20 New Cocktail and Spirits Books to Read in Fall and Winter 2022
This season brings a huge selection of books to read or to gift.
In general, it takes two years to write and publish a book, from concept to printing to shipping the book out to stores.
That’s an important statistic to know, because it means that the majority of the books coming out in fall and winter 2022 were largely commissioned and penned during the depths of the 2020 bar closures, when bartenders realized they weren’t getting back behind the stick anytime soon and publishers saw consumers stuck at home mixing endless Quarantinis.
If some of these books seem similar to each other or even repetitive, be kind: Remember how we all were siloed back then. 2020 was a year of extremes.
And yet, many writers conjured books worth buying and gifting. The best are the ones with a distinct point of view, ranging from an audacious look at “60-second cocktails” to love letters to the bars of NOLA and NYC and a deep-dive into modern classics of the last three decades.
These books also reflect how drinking culture has shifted over the past couple of years, including ongoing interest in non-alcoholic drinks and a sense that cocktails are more than merely ingredients but also a way to reflect culture, from the art world to the pop-culture realms of books and music.
Meanwhile, this crop of books is conspicuously light on round-the-world distillery romps, a staple of the booze-book canon and another casualty of the pandemic, when dust gathered on even the most ardent road warrior’s luggage. Even a notable exception, focused on Scotland and its whisky, bears traces of the social-distancing era, with distiller portraits captured largely outdoors—although there will be no complaints about extra glimpses of the stunning natural scenery.
The point is: It’s impossible to avoid viewing these books, released in staggering quantity, except through the lens of these pivotal years. The intended readers, who honed their cocktail making skills during the pandemic, surely raised their bar as well.
60-Second Cocktails: Amazing Drinks to Make at Home in a Minute
Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley (Princeton Architectural Press, $25)
As breezy as the title promises, this book reminds that cocktails don’t have to be insanely complicated. Case in point: a Mocha Martini made with cooled coffee, rum, and Nutella. It was penned by a pair of UK drinks writers and released on both sides of the Atlantic.
A Sense of Place: A Journey around Scotland’s Whisky
Dave Broom (Mitchell Beazley, $50)
This book examines whisky from the point of view of terroir—the land, weather, history, craft and culture—enhanced with stunning photos by Christina Kernohan. Pair it with a bottle of scotch for a generous, thoughtful gift.
Behind the Bar: Gin: 50 Gin Cocktails from Bars Around the World
Alia Akkam (Hardie Grant, $25)
Because so many of the world’s favorite cocktails feature gin—think Martinis, Negronis, and G&Ts—Akkam gives a guided tour of bars around the globe and their gin cocktails, including plenty of eye-popping newcomers like the frothy Lavender Meringue Pie, from Hong Kong’s Quinary.
Brand Mysticism: Cultivate Creativity and Intoxicate Your Audience
Steven Grasse and Aaron Goldfarb (Running Press, $28)
This book is where to learn everything you never knew you needed to know about booze-brand marketing, from spirits savant Steven Grasse, the mind behind brands such as Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, and New Hampshire’s quirky Tamworth Distillery.
Cheers! Cocktails & Toasts to Celebrate Every Day of the Year
Philip Greene (Union Square & Co., $30)
Drink historian Greene offers cocktail recipes along with a backstory connecting the recipe to a particular day (think sports, history, entertainment, and literature references) and scholarly toasts to offer in celebration.
Cheers to Today: 365 Cocktails Because Every Day Is a Holiday
Chris Vola (Countryman Press, $25)
Think of this as a drink-a-day calendar—there’s even a monthly grid within the paperback—with cute, cartoony illustrations and on-trend cocktails. It was penned by Chris Vola, the head bartender at NYC neo-speakeasy Little Branch.
The Cocktail Cabinet: The Art, Science, and Pleasure of Mixing the Perfect Drink
Zoe Burgess (Octopus Publishing, $25)
The focus of this sleek, bright-red volume is on the flavor of drinks, as well as how to make them—which makes sense coming from Burgess, the founder of UK flavor consultancy Atelier Pip. More than 80 cocktail recipes are included.
Cocktails, A Still Life: 60 Spirited Paintings & Recipes
Art by Todd M. Casey; written by Christine Sismondo & James Waller (Running Press, $24)
If you believe the saying “We drink first with our eyes,” this book full of beautiful, moody oil paintings and classic cocktail recipes is for you. This is one to keep on the coffee table (or bar) to leaf through, drink in hand.
Cocktails in Color: A Spirited Guide Through the Art and Joy of Drink-Making
Sammi Katz and Olivia McGiff (Union Square & Co., $20)
This approachable book was written by a pair of NYC bartenders and illustrated with inviting watercolor images of drinks to accompany instructions for making a wide range of classic cocktails.
Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em
Neal Bodenheimer and Emily Timberlake (Abrams, $30)
Simply put, this is a love letter to New Orleans and its drinks. Bodenheimer is the proprietor of Cure and other NOLA bars, and he makes for an authoritative guide around the city’s deep history and cocktail lore. This is not a Cocktails 101 book; although it’s still plenty accessible, there’s plenty of deep-dive info here for experienced cocktail geeks and pros to absorb.
Drink Like a Local New York: A Field Guide to New York’s Best Bars
Amanda Schuster (Cider Mill Press, $17)
Let drinks expert and NYC native Schuster be your witty guide: This well-researched guidebook hits the highlights in all five boroughs, with drink recipes from the city’s venues peppered in as boozy souvenirs. The compact volume fits easily in a pocket or travel bag (or gift bag, hint hint). Note that this is the first book in a series—look for guides to Miami and London coming soon.
Free Spirit Cocktails: 40 Nonalcoholic Drink Recipes
Camille Wilson, Jennifer Chong (Chronicle Books, $20)
From author Wilson and photographer Chong, this book of zero-proof drinks has parties and other occasions in mind and seeks to provide a “more inclusive drink selection” for party hosts.
How to Drink Like A Rock Star: Recipes for the Cocktails and Libations that Inspired 100 Music Legends
Julia Abramoff (Apollo Publishers, $20)
The follow-up to “How to Drink Like A Writer” pairs 100 of history’s greatest rock stars with their iconic drink of choice. That includes Motörhead’s Lemmy (Jack and Coke) and Madonna (Dirty Martini), plus special sections dedicated to epic rock clubs noted for drinking, dancing, and performing. Pair it with a Spotify gift card or a favorite vinyl album for a perfect holiday present.
The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails
Bryan Paiement (University Press of Kentucky, $15)
Forty classic cocktails featuring whiskey, from the Old Fashioned to the Paper Plane, plus 10 original cocktails (like the Scotch Smash) fill out this volume, ideal for those who already love whiskey and are ready to start mixing it into drinks.
Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks
Robert Simonson (Ten Speed Press, $20)
The joy of this book is learning about the people who created our favorite drinks and the stories behind each cocktail. Focusing on the cocktail revival of the past 30 years, this is one book that pros and consumers alike will want to have within easy reach of their bar. It’s guaranteed you’ll learn something new within these pages.
New Mocktails Bible: All Occasion Guide to an Alcohol-Free, Zero-Proof, No-Regrets, Sober-Curious Lifestyle
Anne Schaeffer (Fox Chapel Publishing, $18)
The book includes more than 250 recipes with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, aspiring to be the everything-you-need guide for adult beverages that exclude booze.
Pour Me Another: 250 Ways to Find Your Favorite Drink
J.M. Hirsch (Voracious, $27)
Although we might dispute the publisher’s claim that this is the first “choose your own adventure”-style book, there’s still plenty of room for more books of that type, and we love this one’s visual approach and welcoming concept to helping readers find their new favorite drink.
Raising the Bar: A Bottle-by-Bottle Guide to Mixing Masterful Cocktails at Home
Brett Adams and Jacob Grier (Chronicle Books, $25)
The thoughtful concept: Build a basic cocktail pantry. Each chapter introduces a new bottle and explains how it opens new possibilities for cocktails. Each builds on the one before, so readers never encounter recipes calling for unfamiliar spirits or ingredients. Now, what do we do with that bar cart full of weird liqueurs we bought and only used once?
Twist: Your Guide to Creating Inspired Craft Cocktails
Jordan Hughes (Page Street Publishing, $24)
The dynamic image on the cover—a question-mark-shaped arc of liquid rising from a coupe glass—suggests that maybe this book won’t be quite the same as all the other “cocktail 101” books out there. Written and photographed by Hughes, creator of the High-Proof Preacher drinks blog, each section starts with a classic cocktail and riffs from there. So if you like an Old Fashioned, maybe you’ll also like the autumnal Spiced Apple Old Fashioned or the vibrant purple Oaxacan Indigo variation.
The Unofficial Hogwarts Cocktail Book: Spellbinding Spritzes, Fantastical Old Fashioneds, Magical Margaritas, and More Enchanting Recipes
Bertha Barmann (Ulysses Press, $20)
The original Harry Potter generation is now coming of drinking age. This addition to a fast-growing branch of pop-culture cocktail canon includes themed drinks such as the “Headmaster’s Lemon Drop” and “Boozy Knickerbocker Glory.”