Now that the January blues are over and the December splurge is mostly paid off, publishers are getting ready to roll out their 2016 releases. We picked 8 books we’re most excited about, plus a bonus one that may be published this year. So get your bookshelves ready: here’s what you need to know about what’s coming up this year in Cocktail Literature.
Who: Talia Baiocchi, Leslie Pariseau
What: Books focusing on a single drink are becoming increasingly common: we’ve had a couple written about the Negroni, including (another) one last year by Gary Gaz Regan, and Robert Simonson authored a great one about the Old-Fashioned in 2014. This year, there are a few more hitting our shelves. To kick things off, Talia Baiocchi, a James Beard Award nominee for her 2014 book Sherry, is taking a stab at the Spritz, one of Italy’s most celebrated export. Expect stories, gorgeous illustrations and over 50 different Spritz recipes.
When: March 15th, Ten Speed Press
Who: Tristan Stephenson
What: This is the latest Curious Bartender book in what is shaping up to be a whole book series. In Stephenson’s 4th book in as many years, he explores the origin of gin, its classic pairing with tonic, the newer styles developed by craft distilleries around the world, plus a dozen of his own recipes. In case you’re wondering, Stephenson is a former brand ambassador for Diageo and owns two London cocktail bars, Black Rock and Whistling Shop.
When: April 14th, Ryland Peter & Small
Who: Philip Greene
What: Greene previously penned the brilliant To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion (2012) and co-founded the Museum of the American Cocktail. This time, he has put his wits into exploring the history and evolution of one the most iconic cocktails there is. Conflicting origin theories, anecdotes, vintage ads and stiff cocktail recipes are on the agenda. Another book on the Manhattan was published last year, but it didn’t have Greene’s penmanship, nor a foreword by Dale DeGroff to give it more credence. This one has
When: May 3rd, Sterling Publishing
Who: Colin Spoelman & David Haskell
What: Follow-up of the Guide to Urban Moonshining (2013), from the fellas behind Kings County Distillery, in downtown Brooklyn. This time around, Spoelman and Haskell delve deeper into the history of American distilling, and recount the lives and times of 50 historical figures and their direct or indirect involvement with hooch, from Jasper “Jack” Daniels to George Washington. Guaranteed to be a page-turner!
When: May 17th, Abrams Publishing
Who: Frank Caiafa
What: If there’s an American equivalent to the Savoy, it’s got to be the Waldorf Astoria. Its bar was instrumental at creating or spreading some of the most famous mixed drinks of the pre-Prohibition era, and served as a launching pad for many bartending careers, such as Joe Scialom and Will P. Taylor. Unlike the Savoy’s American Bar, however, the Peacock Alley Bar has barely changed since it re-opened in 1931, and Frank Caiafa, lead bartender at the Peacock since 2005, had kept things refreshingly old-school and low-key. We can suspect Caiafa will use his book to dust off several drinks from A. S. Crockett’s The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, as well as to share many of his own.
When: May 17th, Penguin Random House
Who: Martin & Rebecca Cate
What: Martin Cate is the man behind this famous San Francisco rum bar that consistently makes the lists of best bars in the world. Cate LOVES everything about rum: he’s got over 500 labels on the Smuggler’s menu, and his cocktail list is a long tribute to rum’s amazing 300 years of history, from traditional navy grogs to the Cuban Golden Age, the tiki years and contemporary tiki revival. His book promises to go over all of it, punctuated with over 100 house recipes. Granted that Beachbum’s Potions of the Caribbean covered a lot of that ground already, but there are so many more stories yet to be told that Cate’s book will undoubtedly bring something new.
When: June 7th, Penguin Random House
Who: Robert Simonson
What: Simonson is a journalist and New York Times senior cocktail and drink correspondent with one solid bar book about the oldest cocktail under his belt. His next project chronicles the revival of the cocktail culture and the main actors, bartenders and bars, behind the movement. Paul Clarke covered some of that ground last year, but our first impression is that Simonson’s book will focus more on the stories rather than the practicalities of mixing liquor. It is said that Simonson interviewed over 200 industry players to properly tell the story of modern bartending. A selection of 40 modern classics recipes will be stirred in.
When: September 20th, Ten Speed Press
8. Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas
Who: Brad Thomas Parsons
What: Parsons’ last book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All (2011), is one of the best-selling bartending books of all time: you’re pretty much assured to find a dog-eared copy on the shelves of your favourite cocktail bar, regardless if you’re in Amsterdam or Omaha. Amaro is its long-awaited sibling, a project that Parsons has been teasing us about for years on his Facebook account with photos his ever-growing amari collection. Forget about bar books: Amaro is one of the most highly anticipated foodie book this year. Parsons will provide us with much-needed research on this misunderstood family of liqueurs that’s just beginning to go mainstream.
When: October 11th, Ten Speed Press
9. The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes from the Award-Winning Bar
Who: Jamie Boudreau
What: C’mon, it’s Canon, arguably one of the best bars on the West Coast. These guys painted the whole bar-top with Angostura bitters. And we can essentially claim Jamie, Montreal-born, and former Vancouver bartender, as one of our own. Nuff said!
When: November 1st, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Bonus: Jim Meehan’s rumored “Meehan’s Manual”
What: After working at the PDT for years, Meehan relocated to Portland OR and has worked ever since on a bunch of different projects, one of them being Meehan’s Manual, a bar book that’s rumored to be as much about points of service as it is about making drinks. Meehan compared his book to a cross between Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual and Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table. No release date listed so far, but last we heard of it, Meehan and his publisher were hoping for a Fall release. Stay tuned!
Fall 2016, Ten Speed Press
To make the wait less excruciating, here’s an oldie but a goodie from the original Waldorf-Astoria.
1½ oz Bourbon or rye whiskey [Widow Jane Bourbon]
¾ oz sweet vermouth [Carpano Antica]
¼ oz Fernet [Contratto Fernet]
1 dash aromatic bitters [Abbott’s]
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
The Fanciulli is to the Manhattan what the Toronto is to the Old Fashioned: a cocktail where fernet replaced the bitters that are normally used to season it. First published in Albert Stevens Crockett’s Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931), ‘fanciulli’ was said by Crockett to be an Italian slang, meaning “the boys.” Others suggest that the cocktail is older than that and was actually named after Francesco Fanciulli, an Italian musician who served as director of the US Marine Band in 1892-1897.
Fanciulli, who previously led to much acclaim New York’s Mozart Musical Union, had the difficult task to succeed the very popular John Philip Sousa as the US Marine Band leader. Sousa left in 1892 after 12 years of service to organize his own band, the Sousa Band. Fanciulli constantly faced an uphill battle in trying to break from the shadow of Sousa, and one of his first tasks as band leader was to face Sousa himself as both bands competed for the Presidential inauguration of 1893. Known to be argumentative on occasion, Fanciulli’s tribulations culminated a few months later during the Memorial Day Parade: Lieut. Draper, commander of the Marine contingent, requested he plays more of Sousa’s music, Fanciulli refused and was put under arrest. He nevertheless finished his 5 year contract, but was not accepted for re-enlistment for it was felt “that Marine Corps discipline might suffer were he to be reappointed”.
In reality Fanciulli got somewhat of a raw deal. He had big shoes to fill, and he had played Sousa’s music in addition to his own at the event in question. That being said, we like to think Fanciulli’s bitter legacy lives on in the Fanciulli Cocktail.