STUDYING DRINK: 3 Books to Up Your Cocktail & Spirits Knowledge

LEFT COAST LIBATIONS Ted Munat with Michael Lazar
Left Coast Libations
, which came out September 1st (catch the launch party this Saturday, 9/18, at Heaven’s Dog), is, as far as I’m concerned, a must for the library of any West Coast cocktailian, not to mention drink aficionados everywhere.

Ted Munat clearly displays a fan’s love of drink and the bartenders behind them in his cheeky, delightful bartender bios, Jenn Farrington’s pristine photos give the book a sleek, pure look, and Michael Lazar painstakingly made every recipe to ensure workability for those of us trying these recipes at home. Naturally, San Francisco makes a strong showing with LA, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver bartenders sharing many of their greats, all highlighting the innovation happening in cocktails on the West Coast.

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After meeting attending his Hollywood Cocktails seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, I can say Ted Haigh is one crazy guy… and one of the best resources in the world for history behind drinks (just read his regular column in Imbibe magazine). With a well deserved win as Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book at TalesVintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails feels like the kind of tome that would be a definitive resource in any era. Focused on the classics, it’s rich with historical notes, vintage artwork, and approachable, standard-setting recipes every bartender (or at-home novice) should know. Kudos for the spiral bound presentation, making it easy to use while mixing drinks.

LAST CALL: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition – Daniel Okrent
Last Call is an almost textbook-detailed approach to the history, people and circumstances surrounding Prohibition and how it changed the face of America in issues as far-ranging as personal freedom to organized crime. Daniel Okrent is best known as the first public editor of the New York Times, but is also a Pulitzer nominee. His painstaking research reveals fascinating stories (Carry A. Nation, the temperance “saloon smasher” with a hatchet, for one), and debatable but thought-provoking conclusions. Just delve into the introduction with eye-opening stats on just how much America drank pre-Prohibition, and you’ll be hooked.