Nine of our favorite books for spirits, cocktails and cider.

The best of summer cocktail books

Summer has arrived. What goes better with sunshine, dinner from the grill, and cooling off in the pool than a cocktail in hand? Experts have gone all-out this season to help you fill your flask, or sip alcohol-free, with these new cocktail books. Tuck one of these tomes into your beach bag or backpack.

“That’s the Spirit: 100 of the World’s Greatest Spirits, Liqueurs and Digestifs to Drink With Style” by Jonathan Ray (Quadrille, $22.99)

Whether you are a well-versed spirits enthusiast, or someone who wants to know how to set up a home bar, this book is a worthy resource. Spirits writer Ray creates a virtual bar, with 100 of his favorites. From whiskey to grappa, some are familiar, and some more unusual — like single malt from Switzerland. He provides historical anecdotes, cocktail suggestions, and adds fun commentary about distilleries. You’ll gain knowledge on the history of the bloody mary, and which Scotch whisky goes perfectly with salted caramel chocolate. 

“Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? And Other Cocktails for ’90s Kids” by Sam Slaughter (Andrews McMeel, $12.99) 

This cheeky little book takes the reader back to the 1990s with pun-titled cocktails that are adult versions of childhood drinks from the era of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ecto Coolers, boy bands, and fear of Y2K. Slaughter even includes playlists to set the mood for a retro party. Cocktails are easy enough for a beginner to make. Each page has a vibrantly photographed cocktail, with a trivia tidbit. Mix up a Rossi and Rachel with mescal, sweet vermouth and an orange wedge. Then, pivot! 

“The Cider Insider: The Essential Guide to 100 Craft Ciders to Drink Now” by Susanna Forbes (Quadrille, $19.99)

Forbes shares the beauty of cider, so that fellow aficionados can track down 100 of the most intriguing ones. Each pick, in chapters organized by region, includes food pairing suggestions, travel tips for enjoying orchards and meeting producers, and intricate hand drawings of each bottle. A helpful “if you like this” sidebar steers the drinker to a similar cider to try. 

“Cocktails With a Twist” reveals riffs to up your bartending game.

“Cocktails With a Twist ” by Kara Newman (Chronicle Books, $19.95)

This book is as inventive as its many riffs on classic cocktails. With polychromatic pages, Newman takes on 21 classic cocktails. Pages unfold to reveal ways to alter the classic slightly. Make it bolder, smokier or sweeter. A Moscow Mule becomes an Italian Greyhound, a Kentucky Buck, or a Penicillin; 21 classics become 141 great cocktails. Fun musical and literary quotes are sprinkled throughout. Publishing date: Aug. 27. 

“Batch Cocktails” by Maggie Hoffman (Ten Speed Press, $19.99)

Make any gathering better by spending time with your guests, not mixing drinks. From herbal and floral to savory, smoky or alcohol-free, Hoffman divides her recipe book into seven chapters, based on flavor profiles. Most recipes are portioned for a two-quart pitcher, and are very well laid out, with a dedication to detail. Everything needed is on the page, including timing instructions. There is an index for special occasion suggestions, like the Poolside, a citrusy, easy-to-make concoction that goes well with a barbecue. Learn to make the Garden Rambler, featured in “Batch Cocktails,” here.

Sarah Baird teaches how to build a cocktail ready for travel in her book on flasks.

“Flask: 41 Portable Cocktails to Drink Anywhere” by Sarah Baird (Chronicle Books, $16.95)

Anyone can pour whiskey in a flask for a portable potable, but what about a cocktail? In this inventive and graphically stunning book, Baird shows how to build a cocktail in a flask (6- or 17-ounce servings). Some recipes are classics, and some are originals from celebrated bartenders. If you love Ticonderoga Club’s Buckskin Playmate, Paul Calvert instructs how to pour it into a vessel. Available July 23.

“Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails” by Shannon Mustipher (Rizzoli, $29.95)

You can’t talk about summer cocktailing without tiki. Rum and cane spirits expert Mustipher wants you to engage all of your senses for an ideal cocktail experience, with richly layered drinks and fanciful garnishes. The 90-plus recipes inside are for bartenders of all levels, each with a recommended spirit and lots of info for one’s garnish game. Decatur’s S.O.S Tiki Bar even has a cameo, with its mai tai recipe. The dazzling photography makes it a worthy coffee-table tome.

David Hurst's new book celebrates the bounty of your garden in nonalcoholic drinks.

“From Garden to Glass: 80 Botanical Beverages Made From the Finest Fruits, Cordials, and Infusions” by David Hurst (Chronicle $22.50)

Drinks professor Hurst shares his health-conscious take on mixology, laying out nutrient-rich cocktail recipes. He breaks down chapters for cordials, infusions and tonics by fruits, spices and beans (coffee and cacao) to create nonalcoholic drinks. He includes an “add a twist” sidebar on incorporating alcohol, for those who desire a nourishing tipple.

“Floral Libations” by Cassie Winslow (Chronicle, $16.95)

Do judge this pretty little book by its cover. It's as essential as it is lovely. Inside, the pages offer dreamy throwback photo vibes, and 41 fragrant recipes incorporating flowers into drinks, by way of syrups, teas, sugars and salts. While Winslow writes a love letter to flowers, she wants the reader to consider them as more than a garnish —something a drink can be built upon. Make a cocktail, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, a multilayered experience with infusions like lilac simple syrup, orange blossom water or lavender gin. Check out metro Atlanta cocktails that use flowers here.


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