It's almost New Year's Eve - a night for celebrating the past year and looking ahead to a new one. If you found yourself making

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Cocktail Books to Make Your New Year Bright

It's almost New Year's Eve - a night for celebrating the past year and looking ahead to a new one. If you found yourself making some regrettably bad cocktails in 2010, resolve to improve your mixing skills in 2011. We've got recommendations for cocktail books that will inform, inspire and entertain you in your education. Read Part I for more recommendations.

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Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, by David Wondrich ($23.95). Cocktail expert and historian Wondrich has unearthed one of the oldest styles for mixing spirits - the punch. These aren't get-drunk-quick punches you regrettably had when you were younger, but refined concoctions based on historical recipes and record. From Charles Dickens to East Indian traders, punch was the refreshment of choice - whether it was to refresh, revive or survive. Punch includes recipes for various styles of punch (hot or cold) along with their historical significance. Wondrich also describes the "four pillars of punch" you can follow to craft your own punch.

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Absinthe Cocktails, by Kate Simon ($19.95). Absinthe has seen a resurgence in the last few years (thanks mostly to its long-standing ban being lifted in 2007). There are lots of spirit-specific cocktail books and this new one on Absinthe is fun for anyone that loves the "Green Fairy" or the cocktails that include it. Simon - the editor-at-large for Imbibe magazine - writes about Absinthe's history and production, as well as how to buy and serve it. This slim book includes recipes for classic cocktails that include Absinthe, like the Sazerac and Monkey Gland, in addition to recipes for new cocktails from top bartenders across the country.

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Left Coast Libations: The Art of West Coast Bartending: 100 Original Cocktails, by Ted Munat with Michael Lazar ($24.95). In this who's-who of the West Coast bar scene, meet the talents behind the stick at top bars from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. The bio and introduction of each bartender includes their pedigree and anecdotes from Munat. Every bartender contributed recipes for two original cocktails, along with instructions for mixing them properly. The appendix includes bartending basics along with advanced techniques and recipes for making tinctures, foams, infusions, syrups, and even smoked ice.
 
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