By the book: The best cocktails, wine, beer and cider reads of 2018

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Team Imbibe takes a look at this year’s best cocktails, wine, beer and cider reads that will make for a perfect gift for your booze-loving colleagues and relatives


Cocktails

Batched & bottled: Cocktails to make ahead
by Max & Noel Venning

This stylish book from the Venning brothers might be aimed at daywalkers, but there’s plenty for bartenders to get their teeth into as well. A paean to batched drinks, it contains classic Three Sheets recipes, such as the bar’s exquisite takes on the Stone Fence and French 75, plus original drinks that celebrate fresh produce, like the Apple & Plum. There’s plentiful use of yeasts and alternative acids, infusions and fat-washing, meaning that this book provides a real insight into the Vennings’ style of drinks-making for any admirers wishing to emulate them. (Laura Foster)

£18, Quadrille

 

Kitchen cocktails: Recipes of the London Cocktail Club
by JJ Goodman

By replacing bar spoons with chopsticks and jiggers with baby’s bottles, cocktail hero JJ Goodman presents home cocktail making with a totally new, practical, down to earth approach. He sets out to ‘demystify the art of mixology’, suggesting ingredients that are easy to find in any supermarket, like marshmallows or bacon. Recipes are grouped by the occasion they’re ideally suited to. From daytime summer punches like Watermelon Caipiroska, to aperitifs such as Zaza – ‘her majesty the Queen’s favourite tipple’, finishing off with winter warmers, including a Mince Pie Flip and a Coco Pop Latte. An interesting touch is the cost breakdown given for each cocktail, with the majority of the recipes sitting comfortably below the £2 mark. Although aimed mainly at consumers, there’s plenty of material for bartenders to find the book handy. (Jacopo Mazzeo)

£30, Gutenberg Press

 

Aperitif: A spirited guide to the drinks, history and culture of the aperitif
by Kate Hawkings

Marking the gear-shift moment from work to play (and food), the aperitif is the most eagerly-anticipated and civilised drink of the day. And this book celebrates it to the full. There’s history, a bit of science and most of what you’d need to know about everything, from vermouth and sherry to champagne and mojitos – plus over 30 cocktail recipes. It might be too lightweight for an experienced bartender, but it’s an attractive, easy-to-read offering for amateur cocktail lovers or those just starting out in bar work. Kate Hawkings’ slightly bonkers personality shines through on every page and parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny. (Chris Losh)

£16.99, Quadrille

 

The cocktail guy: Infusions, distillations and innovative combinations
by Rich Woods

After years of running the show as head of cocktail development for Duck & Waffle and Sushisamba, Rich Woods has funnelled his drinks knowledge into tidy book form. As Woods notes, many of his recipes are simple enough for the folks at home, but the chapter titled ‘Iconoclastic’ is one for the professionals. In it, he’s included recipes for some of his signature cocktails (Chocolate & Blue Cheese Martini, anyone?). Each recipe also boasts an anecdotal headnote, often offering insight into Woods’ development process. The book’s short but sweet selection of distillate recipes tucked away in its final pages is a welcome addition to any seasoned bartender’s repertoire too. For menu or flavour inspiration, it’s sure to get the creative juices flowing. (Kate Malczewski)

£16.99, Pavilion

 


Wine

Where to drink wine: The essential guide to the world’s must-visit wineries
by Chris Losh

If wine is all about a sense of place, then drinking it where it’s made is the ultimate vinous experience. And wherever you happen to be, it seems that there are a variety of wineries waiting to be discovered. The number of regions covered here is vast and reflects Chris Losh’s extensive travelling over a 20-year wine writing career, from classics such as Bordeaux and Tuscany to the emerging Ningxia in China and the mysterious Kakheti in Georgia. This is a book that brings the producer and vineyard back under the spotlight; and with his distinctively witty, fluid and entertaining style Where to Drink Wine will please wine enthusiasts and travellers alike. (Jacopo Mazzeo)

£22, Quadrille

 

The sommelier’s atlas of taste
by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay

Wine atlases typically cover the whole world and are full of maps. This book does neither. It’s Europe’s ‘great wine regions’ only, and as much about people and their wine philosophy as geography. It’s full of intelligent insights and interesting commentary – often with a human touch and overlaid with Raj Parr’s peerless tasting ability. Parr seems able to nail a region in a sentence, and as well as ‘top producers’ and asides on things that has caught his fancy (Comté cheese, favourite restaurants or wine shops, for example), there are helpful ‘questions of taste’ to help you tell the difference between, say, Puligny and Meursault or Pomerol and St Émilion. It takes a common sense approach to questions like terroir and minerality, and the interviews with producers are warm and revealing. It’s a great book, informative and well-written, with only one criticism – I wish there were more of it – it’s basically France, Italy and Germany/Austria with Spain as an afterthought. But still, every somm should buy this. (Chris Losh)

$40, Penguin Random House

 

The wines of northern Spain
by Sarah Jane Evans MW

Evans is a hugely respected authority on Spain, and in this book she concentrates on the wine areas north of Madrid, from Calatayud to Txakoli and Rioja to Rías Baixas. At over 300 pages, there’s most of the information you’re ever likely to need about the regions and the producers. A ‘working book’ rather than an armchair read, it’s impressively comprehensive. (Chris Losh)

£30, Infinite Ideas – Classic Wine Library

 


Beer & Cider

Will travel for beer: 101 remarkable journeys every beer lover should experience
by Stephen Beaumont

Building on over 25 years of beer travelling, Stephen Beaumont designed this guide for ‘those who will…disrupt family schedules and cross oceans for beer’, as he puts it. From vintage-beer mecca café Kulminator in Antwerp to the legendary U Fleků in Prague, the greatest jewels of the old brewing world are all there. The  New World must-visit destinations such as Denver, Colorado and Brazil’s Blumenau Oktoberfest are also featured, as well as new destinations like China, Mexico and Japan. Oh, and the Bermondsey Beer Mile is in it too. One for the hardcore beer traveller. (Jacopo Mazzeo)

£14.99, Mitchell Beazley

 

The cider insider: The essential guide to 100 craft ciders to drink now
by Susanna Forbes

As one of the UK’s foremost cider writers and owner of Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery, Susanna Forbes is an ardent supporter of the artisan cider movement and seems to be on first name terms with every player within in. So she is ideally positioned as the ‘cider insider’ to write this guide, covering the top 100 craft cider producers from across the world. With a foreword by rockstar cidermaker Tom Oliver, the book takes us behind the scenes, offering a snapshot of the most exciting ciders being produced today and the new generation of people pioneering this ancient tradition. (Miranda Fitzgerald)

£12.99, Quadrille

 

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