Spirits Books

As the holidays approach, consumers can choose from an assortment of books devoted to spirits, bartending and the art of the cocktail.

There are specialty books such as Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, by David Wondrich (Penguin Group, $23.95). Wondrich weaves a blend of historical facts, recipes, and observations on ingredients and technique, to provide readers with a comprehensive view of what may be the world’s most social beverage. Also worthy of attention is A Taste for Absinthe (Clarkson Potter, $24.99) by R. Wilson Guthrie and James F. Thompson. Guthrie is an expert who is the author of AbsintheBuyersGuide.com; Thompson is a Manhattan-based beverage freelancer. The authors have compiled 65 recipes for both classic and contemporary cocktails involving The Green Fairy.

Classic cocktails loom large in Speakeasy (Ten Speed Press, $24.99), by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zarac. Kosmas and Zarac are co-owners of Employees Only, a bar in lower Manhattan devoted to the libations of days past. From Washington Post columnist Jason Wilson comes Boozehound (Ten Speed Press, $22.99), a chronicle of travelling the world in search of unique bars and life-changing liquor experiences. Another interesting travelogue is Left Coast Libations (Self Published, $24.95), by Ted Munat with Michael Lazar. Described as “the ultimate bar crawl of the West coast, from L.A. to Vancouver,” the book contains profiles of 50 bartenders as well as 100 cocktails from them.

I’ve already reviewed The Four Seasons Book of Cocktails (Sterling, $17.95), a compilation of recipes from the famous Manhattan restaurant located in the Seagram Building. If you can’t fly up for dinner in the Pool Room, this book is the next best thing. For those into history and nostalgia, take a trip down memory lane with The Savoy Cocktail Book Anova Books, $19.95), by Harry Craddock. First published in 1930, it includes 750 recipes from the legendary American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel.

If you could only have one cocktail book, most Americans would choose Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s and Party Guide (Wiley, $14.95). This classic, originally released in 1935, provides guidance on preparing 1200 of the most popular cocktails, along with tips on equipment and barware. Like the Betty Crocker cookbook, it’s a volume no household should be without.

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