Culture

Best New Cocktail Books to Read This Fall

From an in-depth look at Japanese whisky to cheeky illustrations of distillery cats, we created your go-to fall reading list.
From an in-depth look at Japanese whisky to cheeky illustrations of distillery cats, we created your go-to fall reading list.

What better time to start a new book than the fall? With colder temperatures and a cozy aesthetic, the season is essentially an open invitation for people to curl up with a big blanket, a cup of tea (or something stronger), and a good book. If you managed to complete your last reading list during a summer of beach-reading, there's no need to panic: here are eight of the best fall cocktail and spirits books that are perfect for filling that list right back up. Whether you're looking for regionally specific recipes, or the history of a certain spirit, or just need gift inspiration for the upcoming holiday season, our recommended reading list is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

For Whisk(e)y Enthusiasts

Great Drams by Greg Dillon

If you’re a true whisky lover, you likely already know about Greg Dillon. His blog (also entitled “Great Drams”) is packed with endless content on any whisky-related thing imaginable, covering everything from product reviews to articles on the subtleties of barrel char. In his book debut, Dillon spotlights the storied history of Scotch whisky, taking readers on a journey that begins in the 15th century, as well as highlighting 28 distilleries that contributed to Scotch’s celebrated reputation.

The Way of Whisky: A Journey Around Japanese Whisky by Dave Broom

It’s common knowledge that Japanese whisky is among the best whisky in the world: since its market debut, it has consistently received international recognition and awards for its superior quality and taste. However, not many know about the history of Japanese whisky, or how the traditionally Western spirit meshes with Japanese culture. In an effort to shed light on these topics, whisky expert Dave Broom shares his numerous experiences touring and studying the whisky distilleries of Japan, punctuating his observations with a selection of stunning photos from Kohei Take.

Dave Broom visited Japan 25 times in the past 12 years, studying and learning about its whiskies. Dave Broom visited Japan 25 times in the past 12 years, studying and learning about its whiskies.

For the Culture Connoisseur

The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails by Sara Camp Milam & Jerry Slater

Ah, the South. Specifically, the drinking culture of the South. While some might associate the region with religious-based prohibitions on alcohol sales, and others conjure up images of backwoods moonshine, these things (for the most part) couldn’t be further from the truth. Determined to de-vilify the South’s drinking reputation, authors Slater and Milam rounded up more than 100 recipes to showcase the region’s rich drinking history, accompanying them with a variety of authentic Southern cocktail snacks. What’s more, each chapter is punctuated by a selection of essays written by some of the industry’s most well-respected historians, lending this book a dose of educational flair.

Authors Slater and Milam and their cocktail cabinet of contributors bridge the gaps between the culture, history, and practice of drinking in the South. Authors Slater and Milam and their cocktail cabinet of contributors bridge the gaps between the culture, history, and practice of drinking in the South.

By the Smoke & the Smell by Thaddeus Vogler

Less of a spirits book and more of a travel memoir, Thaddeus Vogler takes readers across the globe on his relentless search for “grower spirits” (traditionally made, often family-owned spirits companies). Peppered throughout with personal anecdotes and professional observations alike, this book manages to educate readers on an extremely niche topic without falling into the realm of pretentiousness.

Recipes with a Twist

The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy by Andy Heidel

Make no mistake: while the title might make it seem like it’s just for sci-fi fans, this book covers every aspect of nerd culture, ranging from classics – such as Conan the Barbarian – to newer favorites like The Walking Dead or Guardians of the Galaxy). Filled from cover to cover with geek-friendly cocktails like the “Close Encounters of the Third Lime” and “George R.R. Martini,” this is an absolute must-read for anyone who’s ever sent an angry email to Fox for cancelling Firefly (15 years later, and it still stings).

Road Soda: Recipes and Techniques for Making Great Cocktails, Anywhere by Kara Newman

Disclaimer: no, this book isn’t about drinking and driving – that’s illegal. Instead, you’ll find tips and tricks on how to get a decent drink when you’re on the road and just happened to forget to pack the entire contents of your liquor cabinet. From lessons on how to become a minibar master, to instructions on how to make a cocktail in a soda can, this book is perfect for those times you find yourself craving a well-made cocktail on a camping trip.

Noted cocktail writer Simonson gathered some of the greatest drinks in history, all of which conveniently feature only three ingredients. Noted cocktail writer Simonson gathered some of the greatest drinks in history, all of which conveniently feature only three ingredients.

3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in the Cocktail Canon by Robert Simonson

If there’s one thing bartenders and customers can agree on, it's that simply-made, classic cocktails are never a bad idea. As fun as it is to mix up a concoction with a half dozen spirits and a myriad of techniques, the best drinks can often be made with as few as three ingredients. At least, that’s what author Robert Simonson thinks, and he’s determined to prove his point with a carefully curated selection of more than 75 classic and modern cocktails, each containing just three elements.

Featuring hand-drawn portraits and card-style stat sheets, Parsons profiles 30 cats who happen to call a distillery home. Featuring hand-drawn portraits and card-style stat sheets, Parsons profiles 30 cats who happen to call a distillery home.

For Cat & Cocktail Lovers

Distillery Cats: Profiles in Courage of the World's Most Spirited Mousers by Brad Thomas Parsons

Cheeky, colorful, and informative: this book has absolutely everything a cat-loving spirits enthusiast could hope for. James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons traces the historical role cats have played in distilleries throughout the centuries, featuring profiles and “interviews” with more than 30 of today’s most adorable distillery cats. As if that weren’t enough, the book also includes a comprehensive “stat sheet” for each cat, as well as fifteen tasty cocktail recipes to really round things meow-t.

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