The peat bogs of Scotland’s Islay lend smoky, earthy notes to the whisky made there. In “A Passion for Whisky” (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99, Nov. 7), Ian Wisniewski deconstructs malt whisky and profiles 13 distilleries, covering origin stories, expressions, production and the maturation process that makes each one unique. He also provides comprehensive tasting notes.
Bound to be a classic, Amanda Schuster’s “Signature Cocktails” (Phaidon, $39.95) includes 200 concoctions that have made their mark in drinks history. From the Scottish atholl brose in 1475 to contemporary cocktails, each drink is presented in its cultural milieu. Beautiful photography accompanies the recipes and multiple indices make this a valuable, accessible resource.
Steven Grasse and Adam Erace’s “Backcountry Cocktails: Civilized Drinks for Wild Places” (Running Press, $28) is organized by season, and the stunning photos make the reader want to explore the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the geographic heart of the book. Along with ways to make civilized drinks inspired by wild places, the book includes illustrated instructions on such things as how to scare a bear or traverse a beaver dam. It will encourage you to engage with nature, perhaps with a pine Collins or a bark and stormy in hand.
In “How to Make Better Cocktails” (Octopus Books, $19.99), Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, Natalia Garcia Bourke and Andy Shannon explain the “why” to help with the “how” in mixing a drink. And they do it in a straightforward manner, without pretension. You can learn the basic skills, then dive into cocktail sections with no-nonsense instructions and suggestions on variations, batching and maybe adding a chopstick to your bar kit.
Updated annually, “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book” (Octopus Books, $17.99) has been an essential reference on the subject for 47 years. It provides clear, concise information on 5,000 wines, including varietals, vintages, what food to match with a wine to bring out the best in it, as well as what to drink now or save for later. The 2024 edition includes an illustrated, in-depth look at chardonnay.
There’s just something about vinyl records and cocktails. Plan your playlist and accompanying cocktails for holiday gatherings with André Darlington’s “A Booze & Vinyl Christmas” (Running Press, $26). Holiday recipes are sprinkled throughout thematic chapters based on such musical genres as rock, jazz and classical, with drinks to match. There even is a cocktail to pair with a ubiquitous Mariah Carey Christmas tune — made with cognac and sparkling wine.
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