2008 has been another great year for cocktail literature. From the digests that study history to flavor reference guides and all the advice you could want about using fresh ingredients, this year's book releases cover the gamut of mixology. Narrowing down the year to ten bartending guides was a difficult task because there were so many worthy options and I've attempted to find quality books that show off the full range of topics and specialties.
Dale DeGroff (aka King of Cocktails) is back in another essential hardcover that should be in every cocktail enthusiasts' library. DeGroff is one of the masters of modern mixology and his last book, The Craft of the Cocktail was spectacular, but the new book has a twist. In The Essential Cocktail DeGroff dissects 100 cocktails, showing us how to make them perfectly, then throws in a variation of each with an equal amount of valuable mixing advice. Add this to your wish list because it is the best individual books released this year.
Scott Beattie's book is a big hit, especially among slow food/drink and local ingredient enthusiasts. Artisanal Cocktails includes 50 seasonal recipes from Beattie's experiences at the Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg, California (Sonoma County) and uses the plethora of fresh ingredients available there. Although the Californian seasons are prominent in the recipes, there are lessons for mixologists in all regions to utilize fresh and local ingredients available to them in their own market.
The subject of the year is fresh and no other book highlights the universal freshness of ingredients than Bridget Albert's Market-Fresh Mixology. This miniature bartending guide is perfect for anyone who wants to know what produce is in season when and find a few original drinks to impress anyone you're entertaining. Your next trip to the farmer's market will not be the same after reading this book because you'll see a drink in everything from avocado to rhubarb.
The Flavor Bible is designed for cooks as well as bartenders and is the ultimate thesaurus of taste and pairing for anyone who wants to perfect their flavor matching skills. Written by the authors of What to Drink with What You Eat, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, have included every possible flavor combination in this awesome reference guide including flavors that work with the most popular spirits. If you're planning a full-course meal with a matching cocktail menu or simply trying to create a new drink you need this volume in your library.
Mocktails are not limited to the Shirley Temple and "virgin" varieties of this and that and Natalie Bovis-Nelsen has proven that in Preggatinis. This is the most enjoyable and entertaining bartending guide I've seen that is mostly about the non-alcoholic drink and should be the first gift you think of for any woman you know who is trying to get pregnant or already is. Preggatinis is fun and includes non-alcoholic drinks that follow all of the stages of a pregnancy. Ladies, you don't have to feel like a kid just because you're going to have one and guys, there are tips for you to spike the same drinks your wife is having so she doesn't feel left out and everyone is happy.
Anyone interested in finding the best whiskey or exploring the array of tequilas on the market now needs to own Kindred Spirits 2. The value we found in the first edition of this book has not been lost in F. Paul Pacult's newest collection of over 2,400 distilled spirit reviews. This is a welcome addition to the library because the liquor market has increased in so many areas over the last 11 years and Pacult's expertise in tasting is an invaluable guide to navigating this vast world.
Forget those store-bought margarita mixers and learn how to make the best with fresh ingredients that will blow people's minds. Cheryl Charming has created another fun bartending guide, this time filled with frozen drinks of every kind - over 800 of them. Not only will you find Margaritas, Daiquiris and all your favorite frozen treats and more, but Charming also gives her time tested advice for creating the best blended cocktails. This is one of the best frozen drink compilations available yet and she's not stopping because in 2009 Charming's newest book, Knack Bartending Basics will be on the shelves (and you can pre-order it now).
The third edition of one of the most valuable professional bartending guides was released in April of this year. Author Lori Marcus has updated Bartending Inside-Out to include information about the newest spirits and beers as well as some of the more recent challenges for bartenders. Not only will the aspiring bartender learn drinks, how to make them efficiently and the myriad of tricks pros use, but there is a wealth of information included about the other parts of the job: managing customers, legal issues, tipping and more.
This is a handy little book that is filled with nothing but Martinis and it is a great introduction to bartending that anyone can understand. Written by James O. Fraioli (with Vincenzo Marianella), there are a lot of "Martini" drinks including everything from an Apple Streudel Martini to Smoked Salmon Martini and, of course, all the favorites. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Martinis is like looking at one of those martini lounge menus with 100+ martinis and it's pretty fun.