SPIRITUOUS JOURNEY (Book II) &THE BOOK OF BOURBON
In August, I posted a brief review of SPIRITUOUS JOURNEY: BOOK I the first part of a trilogy cataloguing the history of mixed drinks from the earliest punches and toddies to the modern art of molecular mixology. It is authored by two of the world's great drinks historians, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown.
I have been fortunate enough to hear Jared and Anistatia talk about their favourite subject on quite a few occasions, most recently at an English Gin symposium here in Los Angeles. So, it is little surprise then, that I have found the books almost as enjoyable as hearing them in person. Both installments are written with the same infectious enthusiasm as the pair display when they give their lectures (or should that be performances?) but also contain enough detail to let you know that they are based on impeccable research.
Book II is even more entertaining than Book I and begins as America is hitting its stride as the home of mixed drinks following its development through to the arrival of the disastrous experiment that was prohibition. Along the way, the authors share countless anecdotes (did you know that the first use of the word "cocktail" was in a pub on Downing Street in London in 1798?) plenty of historical recipes (Ramos Fizz and The Blue Blazer to name just two) and interesting sociological discussion (Bartending and drink mixing was one of the few areas in the US where Black workers were able to rise to the same level as their white counterparts without prejudice)
This series is a must have for anyone who is serious about their cocktails and I am eagerly awaiting Book III.
Buy it on Amazon HERE
In the same package as the book from Jared and Anistatia, arrived a another bulkier tome called The Book Of Bourbon: And Other Fine American Whiskeys by the displaced Yorkshire bar legend that is Gary Regan and his wife, Mardee Haidin Regan. The book was first published fifteen years ago and rapidly became the go to book for anyone interested in distilled spirits with that added "e"
Like Spirituous Journeys, anyone who has ever heard Gary talk (and talk and talk and talk) about cocktails will recognise the style of the book immediately for its knowledge and wit. This is a straight reprint. That inevitably means the reader is left wishing that the book could have been updated to cover the considerable developments of the last decade and a half. However, there is still a great deal to admire in a work that was, and probably still is, considered the finest book on the subject.
The Regans not only offers up a history of the spirit, but also a detailed whiskey tasting primer, a guide to the brands and distilleries and even a selection of recipes involving whiskey (like a delicious sounding Bourbon Bread Pudding) Best of all, there is Regan's own recipe for orange bitters, which any serious cocktail enthusiast will definitely want to give a go.
Now, how about an updated version, Gary?
Buy it on Amazon HERE