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The Best Drink Books of Fall and Winter 2017

From a “once-in-generation” wine book to a manual that may be the next Bartender's Guide, here's a look at the most important drink books of the season.

This season brings us one of the most robust collections of drink books, many of which have the chops to become fast classics.

Last season’s focus on single-subject books has given way to a more rounded, eclectic mix this season, on topics ranging from how to take your cocktail on the road (Road Soda) to finding, and protecting, true artisan spirits in a booze world dominated by commercialism (By the Smoke and the Smell). In wine, Peter Liem’s epic, “once-in-generation” Champagne, contrasts with Jon Bonné’s slim, bingeable Wine Rules, while in cocktails and spirits, Jim Meehan’s long-awaited Meehan’s Manual finds itself in the same season as Brad Thomas Parsons’ cheeky Distillery Cats. It’s a season for drink’s books that is as varied as it is deep, offering entry points to the world of drinks for just about any appetite.

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

By the Smoke and the Smell
by Thad Vogler

Sourcing spirits exclusively from terroir-driven, sustainable producers, Thad Vogler’s renowned San Francisco bars, Trou Normand and Bar Agricole, boast some of the most tightly curated back bar selections in the country. In his debut book, Vogler recounts his globetrotting journey in search of these true artisan spirits, from calvados in Normandy to mezcal in Oaxaca, revealing a colorful cast of characters along the way. Equal parts memoir and exposé, By the Smoke and the Smell is a book that sets out to challenge the commercialism in spirits, and reshape our understanding of what constitutes artisanshipSeptember 12, $27 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region
by Peter Liem

The world of Champagne as we know it has radically transformed in the past 20 years. Today, the growers making small-production wines are stars, and they have redefined the way we talk about Champagne. Peter Liem, founder of Champagneguide.net, captures all this: real people in real places. Yet with all the beautifully candid photography and meticulously reported detail, gathered during Liem’s years of living in the region, Champagne never falls into geekery. It’s lucid and humane, that sort of once-in-a-generation book that transforms how we think of a wine region. Also, wait, there’s more: Liem secured rights to the most detailed maps ever drawn of Champagne, in the 1940s, and reprints are included in a separate drawer. This renders an already extraordinary book invaluable to any Champagne lover. October 10, $80 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Champagne Peter Liem

Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region | Peter Liem

Meehan’s Bartender Manual
by Jim Meehan

In his second book, Jim Meehan, proprietor of PDT and the forthcoming Prairie School in Chicago, distills his decades of bar-industry expertise into a digestible guide for the aspiring bar owner. Though it includes 100 recipes—both classic and contemporary—the scope of this book is grander than Meehan’s recipe-driven debut, The PDT Cocktail Book. With insights from iconic industry leaders such as Dale DeGroff and Hans Reisetbauer alongside essential techniques, notes on hospitality and bar design, this concise but comprehensive guide aims to be to the second Golden Age of Cocktails what Jerry Thomas’s Bartender’s Guide was to the first. October 17, $40 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft
by Shanna Farrell

“The Bay Area was on the cocktail map long before there was a map,” writes Shanna Farrell in her new cultural history. Right she is. Few cities are so deserving of a separate cocktail accounting of their own. Farrell is an oral historian, and the tone here is academic. She chops up the tale into bite-size pieces: the regional, trailblazing craft-distillers (St. George Spirits, Charbay, Germain-Robin); the pioneering bartenders (Paul Harrington, Marcovaldo Dionysos, Thad Vogler, Julio Bermejo); the “bar that changed it all” (Bourbon & Branch), etc. Some of this will be familiar to those already versed in modern cocktail history, but, even for those, it will provide a thorough deep dive into how the city won itself a world-class drinking culture. September 11, $21.99 | The History Press [Buy]

Bay Area Cocktails

Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft | Shanna Farrell

The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know
by Jon Bonné

The subtitle, in this case, says it all. In a market littered with books promising a crash-course in wine in a slim volume, Jon Bonné is perhaps the first to ever, truly deliver. While all of the basics are covered—from how to talk about wine to how to serve it—the book is also delivers far more: It’s also a humorous, thoughtful manifesto that invites the reader to drink broadly, confidently and, most importantly, well in a wine world that has never been more varied. Beautifully illustrated and compact enough to carry around in a cargo pocket, The New Wine Rules has all the makings of this season’s must-have gift book. November 14, $14.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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

The idea to have the cats illustrated (by Julia Kuo) rather than photographed elevates Distillery Cats above the many books that combine animals and booze. Parsons, the sharp author of Bitters and Amaro, clearly understands that the conceit is what it is, but he’s slyly found meta-stories behind the various cat profiles: brewers and distillers, mensches that they are, are not only willing to adopt strays and shelter cats but could also teach Andrew Lloyd Webber a thing about naming of cats (Daryl Hall, Old Horatio). And you’ll likely discover a lot more distilleries around the country (Port Chester, N.Y., Nashville, Tenn.) than most of us know. Beyond that? Look, it’s a book about cats. But Parsons throws some not-obvious cocktail recipes to sweeten the pot, rendering this a new classic of a very particular genre. September 19, $14 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

New York Cocktails

New York Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Cocktails Inspired by the Big Apple | Amanda Schuster

New York Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Cocktails Inspired by the Big Apple
by Amanda Schuster

From the 20th-century Bronx to the modern-day Penicillin, New York Cocktails delves into the stories and lore behind more than 100 cocktails inspired by or created in the Big Apple. Spotlighting the bartenders responsible for the city’s cocktail revival and their notable creations, this debut book from the editor of The Alcohol Professor acts as both a tribute to the city’s great bygone drinking institutions and a guide to the modern icons that have taken their place. September 12, $19.95 | Cider Mill Press [Buy]

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

In a cocktail world where the eight-ingredient cocktail has become commonplace, Robert Simonson’s explorations of the canon’s most simplistic and enduring cocktails is a welcome reminder of just how baroque things have become. Simonson offers a tightly curated collection of classics (many of them smartly and subtly retooled for the modern era) and essential modern-classics, all beautifully photographed by Colin Price. Beyond its usefulness and welcome accessibility, the book makes good on its promise of opinion by way of essays that examine the history of many of the book’s most important drinks, and Simonson’s modern opinion of them. September 26, $18.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Road Soda Kara Newman

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

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

In her new book, the Wine Enthusiast spirits writer tackles the boozehound’s ultimate First World problem: how to drink well while traveling. Recipes include the Mile-High Vesper and On-the-Go Sazerac; chapters include “Minibar Mixology” and ”Flask-Worthy Favorites.” You get the idea—a hundred ways for the globetrotter to MacGyver a cocktail out of nothing. Even the most practiced of tourists is bound find a witty quick drink fix or two they hadn’t yet thought of within these pages. October 3, $20.00 | Dovetail Press [Buy]

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

A shelf-side companion to Jennifer Fiedler’s The Essential Bar Book (Ten Speed Press, 2014), this recipe collection covers a whopping 150 drinks, sourced (full disclosure) from PUNCH, that span more than a century of cocktail history. Alongside recipes, each of them photographed, The Essential Cocktail Book offers a concise look at the stories behind the most important classic and modern drinks as well as a practical guide to understanding the wide variety of spirits, aromatized bitters and fortified wines on the market today. September 5, $19.99 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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

A follow-up to his first cocktail-focused book, Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends, Ryan Chetiyawardana’s second project explores what makes a great party—food, drink and all. By shifting the focus to the table, Good Together relies on recipes from chefs around the world, including those from Mission Chinese Food’s Angela Dimayuga and Barrafina’s Nieves Barragàn Mohacho. Less rule book and more guide, Chetiyawardana’s second work explores the subject of occasion-based pairing, but keeps it friendly, inventive and adaptable—just what you’d expect from Mr Lyan. September 28, $29.99 | Frances Lincoln

More to Look For:

The Bourbon Bartender: 50 Cocktails to Celebrate the American Spirit
by Jane Danger and Alla Lapushchik

On the tails of Cuban Cocktails, Jane Danger, Alla Lapushchik and Ravi DeRossi offer another single-subject cocktail collection focused on both timeless and modern classics featuring the quintessential American spirit. September 12, $19.95 | Sterling Epicure [Buy]

Pok Pok The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook
by Andy Ricker with J.J. Goode

Pok Pok chef and restaurateur Andy Ricker’s newest book (with repeat co-author JJ Goode) is a hard study of how one eats while drink in Thaliand, alongside Ricker’s recanting of nights out with copious bottles of lao khao (a ubiquitous Thai whiskey made from sticky rice) and ya dawng (lao khao that’s been infused with herbs and roots) and whiskey sodas. October 31, $35 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

Modern Cider: Simple Recipes to Make Your Own Ciders, Perries, Cysers, Shrubs, Fruit Wines, Vinegars, and More
by Emma Christensen

It’s no secret that beer has gotten most of the attention when it comes to homebrewing in recent years. But cider, which has begun appearing on more and more drink menus as of late. But what about making it at home? Gorgeously photographed, Modern Cider lays out a project plan for the homebrewer looking to tackle basic, flavored and advanced cider recipes, not to mention those inspired, fittingly, by beer. August 22, $23 | Ten Speed Press [Buy]

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