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Kohai

Books About Spirits

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All this discussion regarding the amaro-ness of Campari has got me wondering. Are there any good, authoritative books on spirits? Not cocktail recipes, but actual discussions of the production and history of various liquors? Any good recommendations?


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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I recently read Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink by Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller. Really enjoyed, and learned a lot. This is, as the title implies, a history of spirits. I can't wait for their next book, which is slated to be a history of cocktails.

http://www.amazon.com/Spirituous-Journey-Jared-McDaniel-Brown/dp/0976093790


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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This probably isn't really what you're looking for, but if you haven't read Kingsley Amis' On Drink (now included in a re-issue of his writings on drinking called Everyday Drinking, I think), you should.

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Thank you for the suggestions. These sound good. I'll look into them.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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Anthony Dias Blue's The Complete Book of Spirits is a good one.

The Book of Gins and Vodkas by Bob Emmons, though limited in scope, has a lot of interesting details.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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Another book worth mentioning is The Book of Classic American Whiskeys by Mark H. Waymack and James F. Harris. While it gives an enlightening history and analysis of bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys, it does not discuss rye at all. In fact, the authors pointedly and deliberately chose not to include rye. The book was published in the mid-90s and they apparently felt that rye was on the brink of disappearing altogether, so why talk about it? From the preface:

This book is about classic American whiskeys. First, we don't have much to say about rye whiskey. Since the repeal of Prohibition, rye whiskey has steadily dwindled in importance, and is now marginal. Only two or three distilleries continue to produce rye whiskey, and their production runs are infrequent and small.

Rye whiskey not a "classic" American whiskey? Are they serious? These guys completely missed the boat and a chance to be way ahead of the curve and extol the virtues of rye whiskey. Instead they chose to dismiss it. Epic foresight fail.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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If you're interested in Scotch Whisky then I would heartily recommend Macleans Miscellany of Whisky. It covers production and history in quite some depth, and Mr Maclean has a marvelous way of interspersing little tid bits of trivia like how to drink to good health in a couple of dozen languages or a short piece on the three stages of intoxication. Highly recommended.

Cheers, Na Zdrowie, Prost, Iechyd dda etc (That little section really stuck!)

Matt

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