The Best Drink Books of Spring/Summer 2016

From the bar book from tiki icon Smuggler's Cove to two odes to aperitivo hour, these are the best new drink books hitting shelves this season.

Spring Preview New Drinks Books 2016

This spring and summer bring with them an almost overwhelming abundance of excellent drinks-focused books of all types: recipe-rich cookbooks, encyclopedic reference books, history tomes on drinking culture and more. There’s the retro-hued Spritz, from our very own Talia Baiocchi and former PUNCH deputy editor Leslie Pariseau, which translates sprezzatura into both recipes and guidelines for living the #spritzlife; the much-anticipated Smuggler’s Cove from the tiki god himself, Martin Cate; a memoir about a Red Hook bar that felt like home to so many; more than one thorough reference and history book on the likes of gin, whiskey, Southern drinking and distillers past to delight our inner nerd; and a bounty of stunning cookbooks with substantial drink sections. Here, our picks for the best drink books of the coming seasons.

Smugglers Cove Spring Preview 2016 Books

Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki
by Martin Cate & Rebecca Cate

Behind an unmarked glass door that looks like the entrance to a walk-in clinic is the bar that helped define modern tiki. Smuggler’s Cove is not only the manifesto of that bar and its drinks, but a chronicle of the tenets of tiki and, most importantly, the exotic compulsions of its die-hard devotees. Martin and Rebecca Cate have managed to create an irresistible shrine to the magic of Polynesian pop culture. Beautifully designed and dripping in kitsch by way of photos by Dylan + Jeni, this is set to be the cocktail book of the summer. June 7, $30 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation (Revised)
by Christian DeBenedetti

In the revised edition of the Great American Ale Trail, DeBenedetti continues to uncover the nation’s best craft breweries in every region—from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, down south to Texas and Florida and back up the east coast to New York City. He’s cut some of the now corporate-owned spots published back in 2011 and whittled thousands of potential new additions down to a still-formidable catalog totaling nearly 500 breweries. A travelogue at first glance, The Great American Ale Trail tells the larger story of how widespread the craft beer movement has become and the people who are working to shape it. April 26, $22 | Running Press [Buy]

Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes
by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau

The editor in chief and former deputy editor of PUNCH dive deep into the history of the spritz—that bitter, bubbly, low-alcohol cocktail that’s become become a cultural imperative in Italy. From its roots in ancient Greece and Rome to its different permutations in northern Italy, Baiocchi and Pariseau offer up a 360-degree view of the drink and its modern counterparts, both in Italy and here in America. With more than 50 recipes for cocktails and traditional Italian aperitivo food—alongside gorgeous photography by Dylan + Jeni and illustrations that channel the iconic Italian liquor ads of the 1920s and ’30s—Spritz is both a recipe book and a convincing argument for the golden-hued #spritzlife. March 15, $18.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Eat Your Drink Culinary Cocktails Spring Preview 2016 Books

Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails
by Matthew Biancaniello

Matthew Biancaniello’s “cocktails” are what you might imagine drinking in some fantasy rendition of the year 2100 (one that that still miraculously contains fresh produce). Biancaniello has conceptually rejiggered the West Coast cocktail—which is defined by an almost taunting reliance on the West’s bounty—to something more culinary in nature. Hence why the book is organized by “courses” and drinks are served in vessels that range from the standard coupe to a tomato (it’s injected with tequila) to a holed-out finger lime to test tubes. This is a collection of drinks (NB: most of them not for beginners) that stretch the very notion of what a cocktail can be. March 15, $23 | Dey Street Books [Buy]

Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy
by Marisa Huff

Italian cocktail culture is, historically, not merely an appropriation of an American pastime, but a culture of drinks and drinking unto itself. In her book, Aperitivo, Marisa Huff travels through north and central Italy to uncover the drinks that have come to define Italian cocktails, both past and present, alongside the foods that act as their sidecar. Part cookbook and part cocktail book, Aperitivo is a beautifully photographed, city-by-city look at that all-important sliver of time between work and dinnertime and the culture of drinking that has proliferated within it. April 19, $35 | Rizzoli International Publications [Buy]

Dead Distillers: A History of the Upstarts and Outlaws Who Made American Spirits
by Colin Spoelman & David Haskell 

With each chapter concentrating on a dead distiller (and beginning not only with the year of their death but also with the location of their internment), the morbidity of this book is hard to overlook. But by outwardly embracing their newfound graveyard fascination, Colin Spoelman and David Haskell—the duo behind Kings County Distillery—weave together a narrative that celebrates famous distillers (among them, George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle), their role in spirits history and their place in early American drinking culture. May 17, $24.95 | Abrams Image [Buy]

Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, with Recipes
by Robert F. Moss

Four hundred years of drinking distilled into almost as many pages, Southern Spirits looks at the history of a culturally rich region through the lens of its drinking habits. Lest you write it off as just another book about bourbon, Moss is quick to clear up the myth that Southern drinking is limited to the brown stuff, with the likes of rum, Madeira, brandy, cider and more all seeing starring roles. History buffs and cocktail nerds alike will delight in the thorough tome, which is sprinkled throughout with recipes that have stood the test of time. April 12, $24.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Food and Beer Spring Preview 2016 Books

Food & Beer
by Daniel Burns & Jeppe Jarnit-Bjersø

Chef Daniel Burns and brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjersø have been collaborating in their beer bar Tørst and tasting menu restaurant, Luksus, since 2013, so it only makes sense that their book be two-in-one. The Tørst half of the book is broken up into beer flavors or attributes, with dishes from Burns to go with each quality, while the Luksus portion is divided into courses with nuanced beer pairings and brewer profiles for each recipe. The beauty of this book (and it is truly a stunner) is the ease with which both Burns and Jarnit-Bjersø can talk about food and beer—and how they can embolden one another—interchangeably; there’s no partisanship here. Their voices (Jarnit-Bjersø, bold and energetic, and Burns, thoughtful and reverent, ring throughout) are a real triumph on the part of Stein. Some will argue that it’s impossible to find a lot of the small-production beers that are mentioned in this book, an issue that is often encountered with culty brews, but if you follow the wisdom found in the descriptions of each of the beers, it will be easy to discern ideal pairings of your own. May 16, $49.95 | Phaidon [Buy]

Sunny’s Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World
by Tim Sultan

Part memoir, part travelogue of New York in the ’90s and part biography of a bartender who touched many lives, Tim Sultan’s telling of his time at Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is much more than a story about a bar. The book’s leading character is Sunny himself, an outsized and beloved fixture in the neighborhood with a rollicking personal history, who would proffer a drink and a warm welcome to anyone who walked into his namesake establishment. The account resonates beyond those who hold Sunny’s—and its colorful proprietor, who passed away just a few short weeks ago—dear to their hearts by touching on the universality that is the bar that feels like home. February 23, $27 | Random House [Buy]

COOKBOOKS WITH BOOZE IN THEM

Koreatown: A Cookbook
by Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard

Tucked into Rodbard and Hong’s lush cookbook is a brief but vivid illustration of the role drinking and drinks play in Korean culture, from makgeolli to Jameson and Gingers to the (many) drinking games, and the important social bonding that happens over them. February 16, $30 | Clarkson Potter [Buy]

Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City
by Katie Parla & Kristina Gill

A vivid picture of the singular collision of ancient and new that defines Roman food and drink culture, Tasting Rome is essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in Italy. In addition to its extensive collection of Roman food, the book also features a chapter on Roman cocktails, pub culture and the storied prince of Lazian wine. March 29, $30 | Clarkson Potter [Buy]

Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates
by Brian Calvert

Calvert’s cookbook exudes the same quietly beautiful aesthetic as the homey yet elevated dishes at his Brooklyn restaurant, James, and the cocktails are no exception, with both locavore-ized nods to the classics and inventive new takes, like the balsamic vinegar- and cherry tomato-imbued Smith Street Sour. June 7, $30 | Little, Brown and Company [Buy]

MORE COMING THIS SPRING/SUMMER

Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits
by Carey Jones

If you’ve ever asked yourself what, exactly, Brooklyn’s role in the cocktail renaissance is, Carey Jones has an answer for you. This is a look at the famed borough through the bartenders that have shaped its cocktail scene. May 24, $24.99 | Black Dog & Leventhal [Buy]

The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book (Revised)
by Frank Caiafa

The first update to the classic Waldorf Astoria Bar Book since its original publication in 1934, the bar’s current head bartender, Frank Caiafa, offers a then-and-now look at this icon of early 20th-century New York City cocktail culture. May 17, $25 | Penguin Books [Buy]

Varietal Wines: A Guide to 130 Varieties Grown in Australia and Their Place in the International Wine Landscape
by James Halliday

Halliday has a knack for well-researched reference books on Australian wine, and this is no different: Here, he tackles a whopping 130 grape varieties and gives their context and history, first in the world at large, and then in more focused exploration of their place in Australia. May 3, $59.95 | Hardie Grant Books [Buy]

Iconic Whisky
by Cyrille Mald & Alexandre Vingtier

An encylopedic take on the quintessential brown spirit, this guide touches on the history of hundreds of distilleries and tasting notes for their whiskies, in a one-page style that, if it doesn’t overwhelm, will please the whiskey nerd and offer a point of reference for those expanding their knowledge. May 19, $29.99 | Jacqui Small LLP [Buy]

Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright and Dry
by John Winthrop Haeger

In this riesling geek’s dream of a book, Haeger makes a strong case for rieslings that aren’t sweet, through historical research of regions and an impressive compilation of producer profiles from Michigan to the Mosel. March 8, $39.95 | University of California Press [Buy]

The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace
by Tristan Stephenson

While The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace borders closely on a reference book (and is perhaps not meant to be plucked off the shelf for easy reading), there’s tremendous amount of useful information here, especially in the book’s extensive rundown of gin brands, characteristics and styles. May 12, $21.95 | Ryland Peters & Small [Buy]

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