This is usually the time of year when people start making goals living healthier in the New Year. For some of us, those goals for living healthier mean living BETTER. It kind of makes sense, right? Instead of resolving to drink fewer cocktails, why not resolve to MAKE better cocktails? And, bonus: If you invest in a book (or five) and some quality ingredients, you may even save some money because you won't hit up the bars as much. OK, maybe that's just my twisted logic.
Start with a good basic cocktail book like The Essential Bartender's Guide, by Robert Hess ($12.95). In this must-have book, local cocktail expert and creator of DrinkBoy.com tells you the difference between Rickey's, Fizzes and other mixed drinks, how to stock your bar and more. There's a little bit of history and a lot of recipes. You'll find recipes and anecdotes for old cocktails like the French 75 and the Pegu, as well as original cocktails by Robert Hess and other contemporary bartenders. I love that this book is spiral-bound, so it lays flat on your kitchen or bar counter.
As you continue your education on cocktail culture, history and lore, you'll want to pick up Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits, by Jason Wilson ($22.99). Part memoir, part travelogue and part recipe collection, Boozehound recounts Wilson's own education into the world of cocktails. Wilson writes about spirits for The Washington Post and recounts his own drinking stories in Boozehound while chronicling the tales and trials of booze in various form. There are recipes for variations on classic cocktails and chapters focused on spirits like Rum and Aquavit, or ingredients such as bitters. There are also hilarious insider stories like the purported legend of Frenchmen on bicycles, handpicking fresh elderflowers for St. Germain liquor.
Come back tomorrow or Part II of Cooking the Books and recommendations for three more cocktail books.