For that classy drinker in your life — or for your own enjoyment — here are new eight books about booze that are well worth gifting this holiday season.
By Tim “Swanky” Glazner
Schiffer Publishing, August 2016
The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL, has endured the ups and downs of the Tiki phenomenon since it opened in 1956. This pinnacle of the mid-century Tiki era, renowned for its Polynesian dinner show, celebrates its 60th anniversary with Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant. The book chronicles the tales of people who have been connected to the Mai-Kai. The brash young men who created the Mai-Kai and its iconic elements, the employees who used it as a springboard for fame and adventure, and the loyal patrons who rank among the best known celebrities and playboys of the times, were the inspiration for the book. Author Tim “Swanky” Glazner first visited the Mai-Kai in 2003 when he moved his Tiki-centric Hukilau event from Trader Vic’s Atlanta to the Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale.
By Jeff Cioletti
Turner Publishing, November 2015
$29.95 hardcover, $19.95 paperback
Beverage alcohol journalist Jeff Cioletti challenges adult imbibers to try something new every week for a year. Each of the 52 chapters features the story behind a unique beer, spirit, cider, cocktail or wine, designed to broaden drinking horizons. Some correspond with specific seasons or holidays, encouraging readers to forget the million-dollar-marketing-supported “conventional wisdom” and drink against the grain. It’s Cinco de Mayo? There’s much more than lime-enhanced lager and shots of rotgut tequila. St. Patrick’s Day? Do you really want to be the 700th person that night to order a green-tinted brew or shot of cheap whiskey? The Year of Drinking Adventurously takes readers on a journey into the exciting and unknown—one week at a time.
By Punch Creative and Ralph Vidal
Punch Creative, December 2016
In celebration of the joie de vivre that’s essential to the French identity, How to Drink French Fluently is a “santé!” to everything in life that feels good: from spirited conversation and great food, to beauty and taste, to art and music. Working with top bartenders and tastemakers—including Naren Young, Julie Reiner, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Lynnette Marrero, Ivy Mix, Pam Wiznitzer, Neal Bodenheimer and Brian Griffiths—How to Drink French Fluently shares ways to elevate and savor every moment of the day. From effervescent cocktails at brunch, to the afternoon spritz, to an early evening aperitif, to cocktails paired with dinner, and finally a nightcap, each chapter is a historical exploration of a moment during the day, and is accompanied by dozens of original cocktail recipes and food pairings.
By Reyka Vodka
powerHouse Books, November 2016
Iceland has a tradition called “Drink & Draw” in which bar patrons enjoy a cocktail and draw a sketch based on a particular theme. The sketches are then collected and published in small booklets. Reyka Vodka has produced this book to showcase its homeland through a collection of drawings doodled while drinking, and then photographed by Icelandic photographer Snorri Sturluson. Icelandic culture is celebrated through the drawings and through a look at different elements that are Icelandic—from its music and art, to the country’s food, folklore, and natural beauty.
By Rob Arnold and Eric Simanek
TCU Press, September 2016
Shots of Knowledge is a guidebook for whiskey lovers that’s organized into 58 illustrated essays, accompanied by full-color photos and illustrations. The book samples selected topics in whiskey production through the lenses of science, history and engineering. Essays are subdivided into three sections: From Sunshine to Sugar, From Wee Beasties to White Dogs, and From Barrel to Brain. Inspiration for the book grew out of collaboration between faculty at Texas Christian University and the owners and craftsmen who work of Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. in Fort Worth, TX. Author Rob Arnold is head distiller the Firestone & Robertson, while Eric Simanek is a member of the chemistry faculty at TCU.
By Joshua Bernstein
Sterling Epicure, September 2016
India Pale Ale has captured the hearts and taste buds of beer lovers like few other brews; it’s now the top-selling craft beer style. But not all beers are created equal. Beer expert Josh Bernstein takes readers on a tangy tour of the world’s finest IPAs, from easy-drinking session ales to bitter brews gone wild. Complete IPA showcases the best choices in each category, profiles the brewers who helped innovate the sub-categories, and highlights emerging IPA styles and the most exceptional breweries making them right now. Bernstein is a beer, spirits, food and travel journalist, and beer and drinks consultant.
Assouline, October 2016
The fourth in Brian Van Flandern’s series of cocktail books shines a spotlight on the history and production of quality tequilas. It explores the smoothest, best-tasting tequilas from Jalisco, Mexico, with flavors so refined that no salt or lime is needed. The book, which includes a foreword written by Casamigos Tequila founder Rande Gerber, provides 60 cocktail recipes, from six variations on the Margarita to an Añejo New Fashioned and the Tequila Mockingbird, with fresh watermelon juice and mint. World-renowned mixologist and spirits historian Van Flandern has earned a reputation for his innovative libations using fresh and exotic ingredients. He has created cocktail programs for The Carlyle and The Plaza hotels in New York and the Seabourn fleet of cruise ships.
Simi Winery, November 2016
Simi Winery has released a wine pairing cookbook, Savoring Simi: Since 1876, to commemorate the winery’s 140th anniversary. Inspired by Simi’s history in Sonoma County and food friendly wines, the cookbook features 26 classic recipes from past and present Simi Winery chefs, including Kolin Vazzoler, as well as palate-pleasing wine and food pairings for every meal. The pages of the cookbook provide readers with a unique snapshot of Simi’s 140th years of operation in Sonoma County, as well as simple, tasty recipes for every season and special-occasion entertaining. The cookbook will be available for purchase alongside a bottle of Simi’s 2013 Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon on SimiWinery.com for $39, or on its own for $20.
Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Cheers magazine.