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The Best Drink Books of Spring and Summer 2017

From an ode to the Bloody Mary to a substantive guide to rosé to a recipe book from one of Australia's most important bars, here are the best new drink books being released this spring and summer.

best drink books 2017

The coming season brings with it a wave of excellent drink books on topics across the board. In particular, single-subject books rule this year, on topics ranging from wine to spirits to cocktails. Among them is The Bloody Mary, a book dedicated to a single, beloved cocktail, told as both love letter and recipe book; Mezcal, a smart primer on one of the fastest-growing spirits categories; and Rosé All Day, an examination of wine pop culture dressed up as an illustrated guide to pink wine.

Other books capitalize on overarching trends in the drinks world, from an accounting of bartenders’ favorite places to drink around the world to a guide to taking cues from the French on how we drink. And still others deepen our understanding of nuanced topics, like Alice Feiring’s exploration of how soil affects wines in tangible, taste-able ways.

Here, our picks for the best books of the coming season.

a spot at the bar

A Spot at the Bar: Welcome to the Everleigh
by Michael Madrusan & Zara Young

What does the Sasha Petraske school of cocktailing look like Down Under? In their new book, Michael Madrusan and Zara Young offer an in-the-round picture of Melbourne’s acclaimed bar, The Everleigh—a place that stands as a testament to Petraske’s influence around the world (Madrusan, who spent time behind the bar at Milk & Honey and Little Branch, opened it in collaboration with Petraske). Petraske’s cocktail aesthetic is tangible in the approach to drink-making—favoring minimalism and exactitude over esoterica. It’s an approach that once again feels novel in today’s cocktail climate. The book also succeeds in establishing what makes The Everleigh a singular bar, in a way that is not only entertaining to engage with, but useful: No other book, for example, has done a better job explaining the methodology behind Bartender’s Choice—guiding the reader in how to communicate what you like and how to ensure you end up with the perfect cocktail you’d never thought to order. It’s also a book that takes chances, forgoing the formulaic structure of many cocktail books today: drink beauty shot, cocktail headnote, cocktail recipe. Instead, each hero drink is illustrated with its specs written on an old business card, coaster or matchbook from a notable bar, and is then followed by an illustration and a page full of recipes inspired by that drink. It’s unexpected, and it works—drawing important connections between classics and their modern counterparts (what they deem their “Cocktail Branches”). In the intro, Madrusan writes that “A Spot at the Bar is an invitation,” and indeed the book’s greatest strength is its accessibility—300-bottle backbar not required. March 7 $29.99 | Hardie Grant [Buy]

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit 
by Fred Minnick

With a foreword by rum and tiki expert Martin Cate, Fred Minnick’s Rum Curious chronicles the spirit as it enters the “fourth century” of its existence, shaped by producers, microdistillers and independent bottlers around the world. After exploring rum’s origins—from the discovery of sugarcane by Alexander the Great to Prohibition and beyond—Minnick outlines the ins and outs of today’s production methods and offers tasting notes on dozens of bottlings. With a final appendix dedicated to “Distillery Production Notes”—which offers a well-rounded, geek-friendly glimpse at a number of today’s producers—this proves to be a useful guide for the bartending set. But there’s something here for the novice, too: a chapter on cocktails, for example, runs the gamut from easy-to-make classics (the Daiquiri and the El Presidente, among others) to more complicated tiki riffs by bartender Max Solano. June 1, $25 | Voyageur Press [Buy]

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
by Bianca Bosker

Bianca Bosker is a talented raconteuse. The one-time HuffPo tech editor quit her day job to pursue a deep understanding of taste. That quest makes for a colorful, well-written tale, as during her excursion to a corporate winery lab in California to learn about the science behind the sense. At times, Cork Dork‘s story remains a bit narrow, relying on sommelier guides that often offer as much pretense as expertise—which can cast an unfair shadow on a generally earnest profession. She does, however, find a willing voice of dissent (Paul Grieco of New York’s Terroir) to round things out, in what is one of the most entertaining drink-related memoirs in years. March 28, $17 | Penguin Books [Buy]

Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit
by Emma Janzen

As one of the fastest-growing spirits categories, it was only a matter of time before we got a single-subject book on mezcal aimed at a more mainstream audience. With Emma Janzen at the helm, the result is a smart primer that is readable without dumbing down its subject—one that offers something for both those brand-new to the spirit and more seasoned fans looking for a non-wonky reference book. Janzen covers the full life cycle of the spirit, from the basics of agave types and production to the evolution of America’s embrace of the spirit (and the sustainability issues that go along with it), with asides throughout serving as quick cheat sheets to of-the-moment topics. In knowing fashion, a chapter on the controversial subject of mezcal drinks is approached with the understanding that cocktails, especially in the hands of knowledgeable bartenders of the likes who contributed to the book, can be a valuable gateway for novices (and unarguably delicious). But the moments Janzen spends on the ground with producers and bartenders are among the book’s best.  July 14, $24.99 | Voyageur Press [Buy]

bloody mary book

The Bloody Mary
by Brian Bartels

Brian Bartels, beverage director at New York’s Happy Cooking Hospitality, devotes the entirety of his debut cocktail book to one of the most universally loved brunch drinks: the Bloody Mary. Raised in Wisconsin—a state renowned for its Bloody Mary culture—and boasting more than two decades of experience behind the stick, Bartels has become something of an authority on the beloved drink. Part history and part love letter, The Bloody Mary delves into the legend and lore of the drink with humor and insightfulness, and includes 50 recipes from top bartenders across the country, which collectively expand the definition of what a Bloody Mary can be. March 28, $18.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

How to Drink French Fluently: A Guide to Joie de Vivre with St-Germain Cocktails
by Drew Lazor, with contributions by Camille Ralph Vidal

Though the cover promises a lesson on how to “drink French” throughout the day, this little book from Drew Lazor and St-Germain brand ambassador Camille Ralph Vidal, in collaboration with PUNCH’s in-house content studio, PUNCH Creative, approaches ideas that are much more far-reaching, and timely. Written through the lens of using St-Germain (once known as bartender’s ketchup) in cocktails, the book spans the likes of the low-ABV drink trend, America’s nascent aperitif culture, culinary cocktails and more, alongside 35 recipes organized by time of day. June 6, $18.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

The Dirty Guide to Wine: Following Flavor from Ground to Glass
by Alice Feiring

In her newest book, Alice Feiring homes in on how an understanding of soil types can point to through-lines in wines from very different parts of the world. Rather than relying on tasting notes, Feiring attempts to ascertain the ways soil actually transcends a grape, pointing to tangible details like how a specific soil type can lend acidity or power, no matter the region. Limestone, for example: “It is associated with elegance. Limestone is something that you first sense up front in the mouth, on the tip of the tongue, and it betokens a long finish with a linear structure.” Feiring’s sense of humor (as seen in her description of Brettanomyces as smelling like “a small closet stuffed with live sheep”) and cheeky descriptions (“in a wet climate well-drained granite soil saves Albariño’s ass”) are met with a real enthusiasm for the energy that earth can imbue in a wine. What emerges through Feiring’s travels and tastings with her frequent co-conspirator, sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, is that there’s a way to evaluate wine that goes simply beyond taste. June 13, $24.95 | Countryman Press [Buy]

Where Bartenders Drink
by Adrienne Stillman

The third in a series that also includes Where Chef’s Eat and Where to Eat Pizza, Where Bartenders Drink is an insider’s guide to the best cocktail bars, dive bars, late-night haunts and neighborhood go-to’s around the world. Broken out by geographical region, each section begins with a brief introduction to the defining characteristics of different drinking cultures (in New Zealand, for example, the fact that lemons and limes—staples of the cocktail world—are unavailable for much of the year has spawned a notable craft beer movement), alongside practical information such as average drink prices and tipping etiquette. With 700 listings from over 200 industry experts, this guide stands as a testament to, and guidebook for, the “second Golden Age of Cocktails.” February 27, $29.95 | Phaidon [Buy]


rose book rose all day

Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine
by Katherine Cole

Undoubtedly, many of us are feeling rosé fatigue. How many more hats, sweatshirts, beach towels and actual wines can be slapped with a rosé-affirmative slogan? Rosé All Day, it turns out, offers what peak rosé has been missing: substance. Katherine Cole packages a whole lot of wine intelligence in a tone that is as accessible as it is authoritative. Rosé All Day is a guide, yes, but perhaps more importantly, it’s a salient (and witty) examination of wine pop culture. April 11, $24.99 | Abrams Image [Buy]

Vinegar Revival: Artisanal Recipes for Brightening Dishes and Drinks with Homemade Vinegars
by Harry Rosenblum

“If people can eat it or drink it and it has sugar, then it can be made into vinegar.” So begins Harry Rosenblum’s Vinegar Revival, a manifesto for the closed-loop drinker. While a section of the book is devoted to the culinary applications of homemade vinegars, the subject matter crosses over to the drinks world to appeal to avid home brewers, DIY-inclined wine drinkers and home bartenders alike. Brewers may follow Rosenblum in finding the technical aspects of fermentation a new challenge; “Never Ending Vinegar” is the infinity bottle—or more accurately, the solera—of the vinegar world, where wine dregs are reincarnated into their second life as vinaigrette. Citric and acetic acid are kissing cousins, and both can play a role in brightening and balancing cocktails. The section on shrubs and other cocktail-related uses for flavored vinegars spans savory to fruit-forward, and offers modifications for adding vinegars into classic cocktails, toddies and highballs. Vinegar Revival seals its place on the list with its imaginative selection of pickles—including one very choice cocktail onion for your next Gibson. August 1, $19.99 | Clarkson Potter [Buy]


Early fall already promises an array of titles worth anticipating. Here’s what we’re looking forward to.

Meehan’s Bartender Manual
by Jim Meehan

In this sure-to-be-indispensable guidebook to bartending today, Jim Meehan offers up his vast knowledge of the modern cocktail world—covering everything from essential classic cocktails to techniques to lessons in hospitality. October 10, $40 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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

On the tails of A Proper Drink, in which he explored the bars and bartenders responsible for our current cocktail revival, Robert Simonson offers a curated collection of three-ingredient recipes, from historic formulas to modern-day classics accompanied by thoughtful narrative asides. September 26, $18.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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

Brad Thomas Parsons, the James Beard Award-winning author of Bitters and Amaro, playfully profiles over 30 of the most famous distillery cats and offers 15 cocktail recipes to be enjoyed while perusing the “interviews” accompanying each profile. September 19, $14 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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

PUNCH contributor and cocktail expert Kara Newman hits the road in this playful guide to making quality drinks in all manner of transient situations, whether camping, tailgating or simply making the most of a hotel mini-bar. October 3 | Dovetail Press [Buy]

The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks in 150 Recipes
edited by Megan Krigbaum

PUNCH contributing editor Megan Krigbaum selects 150 of the best classic and modern cocktail recipes from PUNCH in a beautifully designed companion to the Essential Bar Book. September 5, $19.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Good Together: Drink & Feast with Mr. Lyan and Friends
by Ryan Chetiyawardana

The second book from Ryan Chetiyawardana demystifies what makes a great party, drinks and all: Recipes from restaurants around the world are paired with cocktails, allowing the dynamic drinks Mr. Lyan is known for to shine through. September 28, $29.99 | Frances Lincoln [Buy]


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