Books for bartenders and lovers of drink


curious bartender Mark Ludmon looks at some of the latest books for filling the Christmas stockings of bartenders and other lovers of drink


Top of any bartender or cocktail lover’s Christmas list this year must be Tristan Stephenson’s new book, The Curious Bartender. Within the beautifully designed classic-style covers, he talks about his exploration of cocktail making, looking at the modern and scientific turns in mixology. Tristan is one of the leading experimenters in making cocktails, using innovative techniques at Purl and The Worship Street Whistling Shop, the London bars that he heads with Thomas Aske.

In the book, he showcases a selection of classic cocktails, explaining their origins and the colourful historical characters who inspired or created them. He then talks about how he reinvents each drink in his laboratory, adding contemporary twists to breathe fresh life into them, from a Sazerac to a Rob Roy. He also includes a reference section explaining the modern techniques of cutting-edge mixology. (Ryland Peters & Small £16)

Brown Booze by Michael Butt

Another well-known British bartender, Michael Butt, has published his first book, Brown Booze. As one of the team at drinks consultancy Soulshakers, he has helped to create cocktail lists for bars all over the UK. In this book, he shows how a few simple ingredients can be combined with bourbon, whisky, dark rum, tequila or brandy to create 75 delicious drinks.

Mainly aimed at consumers, the book’s key aim is to explain how to maximise the number of cocktails you can make using only five spirits. By substituting just one or two ingredients, he shows how to make a whole range of different drinks. For example, a classic Manhattan, made with whiskey, vermouth and bitters, can become a completely new drink, called the Harvard, by replacing the whiskey with cognac. The book also demonstrates how a few common fruits and vegetables can transform the number of cocktails you can make. (Dog & Bone £9.99)

nicholas faith cognac

Also new is the fully revised third edition of Nicholas Faith’s definitive book, Cognac: The Story of the World’s Greatest Brandy. It provides an authoritative account of how the spirit is produced and matured and what makes it so complex and fascinating. He includes biographies of major producers and influential figures past and present and also provides nuggets of information on more obscure subjects such as cognac’s influence on rap culture.

Two new sections give tips on the appreciation and mixing of cognac, including a selection of cocktail recipes, and advice on the best foods to enjoy with cognac. This new edition includes a fully updated directory of the producers and their brandies, including tasting notes from the author – one of the world’s leading experts on spirits and recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Bureau National Interprofessional de Cognac. The book is the essential companion for anyone working with cognac. (Infinite Ideas £30)

boutique beer

With the unstoppable rise in craft beer, drinks writer Ben McFarland has followed up his exhaustive and weighty tome, World’s Best Beers: 1000 Unmissable Brews from Portland to Prague, with another compendium focusing on beers from smaller brewers. Boutique Beer: 500 of the World’s Finest Craft Brews takes beer connoisseurs deeper into the world of the contemporary craft beer scene as well as the pioneers of the past that inspired them. He travels from Amsterdam’s Red Light District to the far reaches of the Faroe Islands via ale-making iconoclasts of Oregon, Danish gypsy brewers, law-bending Bavarians and, inevitably, a few monks. There’s even a man who makes beer from his beard.

The award-winning writer talks of the tales and the tastes of more than 500 beers ranging from legendary lambics and hoppy India Pale Ales to session brews, stouts, barley wines, farmhouse beers, sours and saisons, beers made with wild yeast and barrel-aged beers. Written in his authoritative but amusing style, it promises to leave the reader unable to look at their beer in the same way again. (Jacqui Small £25)

For most of us, Haynes manuals are best known for their practical instructions for maintaining and repairing motorbikes and cars. However, their latest publication is The Beer Manual, applying their unique descriptive style to beer, brewing and, of course, how to make your own brew. With plenty of illustrations and practical explanations, it covers beer styles, beer appreciation and the whole brewing process, including case studies. This makes it a useful guide whether you are designing a brew from scratch or just want to have a better understanding of the beer you are drinking. (Haynes Publishing £21.99)

haynes manual beer

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