Become a cocktail connoisseur with help from these pros.
WRITTEN BY RUKSANA HUSSAIN
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PUBLISHERS (SEE INDIVIDUAL LISTINGS FOR OTHER PHOTOS CREDITS)
Raise a glass to the new year with a slew of cocktail concoctions to impress. Some of the best cocktail recipe books and classic bartender guides are listed here for your consideration. Try one or all as you up the ante on your mixology skills. And for those not geared for a boozy binge, some mocktail options should get you equally excited to jump on this bandwagon. Cheers!
Cocktails, Cocktails & More Cocktails
Written by Kester Thompson. Published by Charlesbridge Publishing, October 2011
If the terms muddling and layering seem like another language, then this is the beginner’s guide to helping you learn how to mix drinks. Find equipment, glassware, ingredients, and techniques you must know for everything from a bloody mary to a hot buttered rum, a mint julep, or even a caipirinha, Brazil’s delicious national drink. Hundreds of recipes are included, so you will never run out of new drinks to master. Kester Thompson, brand manager for one of Israel’s biggest wineries and a consultant for numerous restaurants and bars, helps you progress from layperson to in-demand bartender using this one book on libations. No matter your spirit choice or the trendy cocktail at your local bar that you want to replicate, this book has you covered. And if cocktails aren’t your preference, the author also has another book, Mocktails, for nonalcoholic mixology and entertaining.
Vodka Distilled: The Modern Mixologist on Vodka and Vodka Cocktails
(Photo by Tim Turner, courtesy of Agate Publishing)
Written by Tony Abou-Ganim. Published by Agate Publishing, February 2013
Tony Abou-Ganim, national ambassador of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild Inc. and one of the leaders of the craft cocktail movement, follows up on the success of his first book, The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails, with this in-depth dive into all things vodka, geared toward those in the trade and those who appreciate imbibing this clear spirit. How different raw materials affect the character of certain vodka, the varying distillation and filtration methods … any questions you have are answered here. This is a step-by-step journey to cocktail expertise from one of the top mixologists in the world, who has worked with food and hospitality legends such as Mario Batali, Steve Wynn, and Harry Denton. Consider it an encyclopedia of knowledge — all pertaining to vodka. Select recipes are included. Rest assured you will have gems aplenty when introducing your handiwork to guests.
The North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar: Real Bartender’s Reviews of More Than 250 Whiskeys
Written by Chad Berkey and Jeremy LeBlanc. Published by Page Street Publishing Co., December 2014
This is the point of no return. The mention of whiskey is the beginning of some serious business — whiskey enthusiasts rejoice! This book will be a comprehensive guide to whiskeys, if you never have gone down that road, and introduce you to more of what you like per your palate preferences if you already are a fan. What else do you expect from a book for which top bartenders blind taste-tested every whiskey? The author, Chad Berkey, is the general manager of the Aero Club bar in San Diego, which offers more than 900 different kinds of whiskey — one of the largest collections of whiskey at any bar in America. The book offers everything from reviews of 250 different whiskeys and their histories to even cigar pairings. If you weren’t a whiskey lover before, consider yourself one now as you try the 30 whiskey cocktail recipes featured here. In good spirits now?
Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist
(Photo credit: Claire Barrett)
Written by Natalie Bovis. Published by Adams Media, April 2012
Move aside farm-to-fork fanatics; garden to glass is more the flow here. You want your favorite food fresh, local, and homemade, so why not your cocktails? Whether you are picking homegrown herbs from your own backyard or going crazy over farmers’ market fodder, be sufficiently inspired to concoct a lavender gin sour or a basil lemongrass drop — they are easier to prepare than you think. Named one of four women leading the liquor industry, Natalie Bovis, co-founder of Om Organic Mixology liqueurs, takes you through planting your own cocktail garden, using seasonal, fresh farmers’ market finds or plucking tasty treasures in the wild, infusing spirits and making homemade liqueurs, and … wait for it … using eggs, dairy, and even meat in your cocktail for modern mixology explorations. More than 100 cocktail recipes beckon. USA Today hailed this, Bovis’ third cocktail book, among its Top Ten Cookbooks of the year in 2012.
Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis, and Other Totally Green Cocktails
Written by Paul Abercrombie. Published by Harvard Common Press, October 2009
Enjoy organic strawberry muddled with organic gin, agave nectar, organic egg white, and a splash of absinthe. Revel in a mixture of organic blackberries, lemon juice, organic simple syrup, organic reposado tequila, Lillet Blanc, and açai spirit. Whip together a tarragon-infused organic simple syrup, organic vodka, and lime juice in minutes. If a green bar is more your style, then Paul Abercrombie had you in mind when compiling this collection of 100 eco-friendly, organic cocktails from the trendiest bars and nightclubs across the country and a few new creations by the author. For the eco-conscious and health-minded, this book provides organic recipes for every occasion. Did we mention saffron margaritas and roasted red pepper juleps? This takes drinking responsibly to a whole new level.
Ruksana Hussain is a Los Angeles-based editor and writer specializing in lifestyle features covering food, travel, culture, and more. Read her work at www.Ruksanawrites.com.