We’re all for buying bottles for our loved ones during the holidays, whether they’re beginner-friendly bourbons, blancos for agave geeks, or stellar Syrahs. But we’re also keen on sharing the knowledge that makes their contents special, and that’s where the best new drinks books come in.
There are all types of drinkers, and for the list below, we’ve found the right handbooks, history lessons, and how-tos for everyone. Among them, you’ll find a deep dive into French wine, a love letter to one of the world’s most underrated spirits, foolproof methods for nailing cocktail techniques every time, and much more. And, if nothing else, all of our picks look handsome on any bookshelf or bar cart.
Here are some of the best drinks books to gift in 2023.
With tequila booming stateside with no signs of a plateau, there’s never been a better time to learn the ins and outs of agave spirits straight from the source. To capture the history, diversity, and innovations of the centuries-old category, restaurateur, founder of Tequila Interchange Project, and VinePair Next Wave award winner, David Suro Piñera, and acclaimed ethnobotanist, Gary Paul Nabhan, journeyed to eight Mexican states and spoke with their producers. What they found and detailed will captivate agave newbies and connoisseurs alike.
A cocktail is never just a cocktail — there’s always a story behind the build. Through 100 recipes, James Beard Award-nominated author and drinks writer Robert Simonson offers readers a comprehensive rundown of the places and faces transforming the modern bar industry.
Unless you’re partying with a very specific crowd — or vacationing with one highly ambitious Brit — chances are that gin isn’t dominating any alcohol-adjacent conversations that arise. But good news, gin enthusiasts: Award-winning drinks writer Anthony Gladman gets you, and he created a stunning 200-plus page love letter to prove it. It’s a top-to-bottom guide to the oft-misunderstood spirit and all its nuances, including its murky history, distillation practices, innovations, and a cocktail section that goes beyond — yet still celebrates — the iconic G&T.
Any home bartender can have the right ingredients and barware, but if their technique is off — or they have no idea why they’re using their tools — it can make for a disappointing cocktail. This elegant yet easy-to-understand handbook takes the guesswork out of drink-making by breaking down the builds and methods used by professional bartenders everywhere.
Consider this brand-new release your comprehensive tour through the rich history of Black mixology. Crack it open to meet your tour guide, James Beard Award-winning author and culinary journalist Toni Tipton-Martin, highlighting and modernizing cocktail builds from Black cookbooks spanning two centuries. With more than 250 pages and 70 recipes, this deep dive is essential reading for those interested in the evolution of African American drinking history.
Oysters and alcohol have an epic love story, and their relationship takes center stage in this hedonistic how-to from Brooklyn institution Maison Premiere. Its pages are filled with recipes, techniques, and lush photos that capture what the cocktail and oyster bar’s team does best: Sazeracs, absinthe, mollusks, and immersing guests in the sensual glamour of New Orleans’ and Paris’s historic drinking scenes.
Consider this a masterclass of Caribbean rum in all its glory. This book’s 850 pages are covered in gorgeous imagery from the islands, and will provide both new enthusiasts and long-time rum geeks with new insight. Historian, educator, and author, Matt Pietrek, and designer Carrie Smith cover everything there is to know about the spirit, from its history and misconceptions to its distillation and the business it cultivates.
When dining out, there’s often someone at the table who enthusiastically flips straight to the section of the wine list labeled “France.” If that person is in your orbit, look no further than this two-book set written by James Beard Award winner Jon Bonné. The duo itself is the perfect pairing: The first book dives deep into the soil, geography, and winemaking practices specific to each region, and the second focuses on France’s producers and the wines they create. And hey, looks aren’t everything, but this is arguably the most coffee-table-friendly setup we’ve ever seen.
For the friend who always wants to grab “just one more round” — or the one who just loves their brown spirits — this book offers a new bedtime story. With dozens of cocktails that span from sturdy to sweet to slumber-inducing, it’ll keep any giftee dreaming of the last calls to come.
The green thumb of your social circle will fawn over this botanical beauty. And whether they’re just an entry-level home bartender or a seasoned homebrewer, the tips and tutorials created by ethnobotanist Danny Childs will have them feeling entirely equipped to pickle, ferment, and forage their way through the seasons and the drinks they demand. The book also makes a perfect cocktail companion for your local plant parent.
For beginners, cocktail-making isn’t the most intuitive practice. But once you’ve nailed the basics of building flavor in the glass, almost anything is possible. Industry veteran Cara Devine proves this in her new book, where she educates readers on the Flavor Triangle — strong, sweet, and bitter — and how to use it to strike the perfect balance in their drinks. Beyond the fundamentals, Devine shares tips for hosting guests for at-home cocktail soirées.
Anyone who falls firmly in the center of the history-buff-beer-geek Venn diagram will appreciate this deep dive into traditional Trappist beer-making. This second-edition release also shares new details about the next generation of brothers carrying on the practice.
If you’ve ever visited Brooklyn’s Scorpion Bowl-slinging, shipwreck-themed cocktail bar Sunken Harbor Club, you may have seen this handbook proudly on display. That’s because bar manager and industry veteran, Garret Richard, co-wrote this lesson on craft with cocktail writer Ben Schaffer. Tropical drinks can be complicated — as is their history — but “Tropical Standard” breaks down and reimagines the techniques that make them great. With 84 recipes including vintage classics and new takes on the style, this is a colorful and comprehensive prize for that friend who can’t turn down a Mai Tai.
We’re social animals, and for better or for worse, that can dictate which wines thrive and which go the way of the dodo. Sommelier Grant Reynolds explores this complicated intersection of culture, politics, technology, and wine in his sweeping new book. Its pages zoom out, zoom in, and calibrate to give readers a 360 view of why we reach for the significant bottles we drink.
The article The 14 Best Booze Books to Buy This Holiday Season (2023) appeared first on VinePair.