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The Essential Boozy Bookshelf

If you’ve never spent time behind the stick, but want to learn more about making cocktails, cocktail ingredients, or just about the history of the things that you’re drinking, then cocktail books are the best place for you to go for that information.

Sure, you could just go on the Internet, but what’s the fun in that? When you’re making drinks, chances are you’re making drinks for other people—entertaining, if you will. Not only will cocktail books give you the stuff you need to shake and stir your way to greatness, but they look damn good on a shelf next to your bottles.

That being said, not all books on a boozy bookshelf are created equal. You can go out to Barnes & Noble and buy any old cocktail book out of their bargain bin, and you’ll get what you pay for—crappy drinks with mildly pleasing photos at best. What you need are the best of the best cocktail books. You need the books that are going to be the Holy Grail for you when it comes to bar knowledge. Below, you’re going to find those books. Some, like Savoy and PDT are cocktail books in the classic sense (the majority of the content being recipes). Some, like The Bar Book and Liquid Intelligence are more than that—they provide in-depth looks at what you need to do to up your game and, more importantly, how.

The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
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It’s safe to say Morgenthaler knows what he’s talking about when it comes to writing about drink-making techniques (or anything that even comes close to being described as such). Not only has be won awards for his writing, but he’s won awards for his bartending as well. The combination of those two talents has produced a book that is clear and insightful when it comes to learning the basics of things like shaking methods, infusing liquids, and more.

Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnoldliquid

If there was anyone who would be considered a mad scientist of the spirits world, it’s Arnold. One of the owners of New York’s Booker and Dax and the founder of The Museum of Food and Drink, he knows more about the science of drinks than you didn’t know you didn’t know . Ideas and techniques and carbonation, sugar, acidity, and more are all discussed in a scientific yet engaging and approachable manner. You don’t need a PhD to understand what he’s saying or where he’s coming from, but after reading this book, you’ll feel like you’re well on your way to getting your Doctorate of Drinks.

The 12 Bottle Bar by David Solmonson and Leslie Jacobs Solmonson12-bar

This book is exactly as the title states: a cocktail book that shows you how to craft a wide variety of drinks with only twelve bottles. That may seem like a lot if you’ve not made drinks before, but it’s an easily achievable goal over a couple months to reach that point. From there, you’ll be able to learn a wide variety of classic cocktails fit to impress everyone from girlfriends to parents to bosses and beyond.

Shrubs by Michael Dietschshrubs

Shrubs are an integral part to many cocktails these days, and in his book, Dietsch looks at how combinations of fruit, sugar, and vinegar can yield a variety of liquids fit not just for cocktails, but for consumption on their own as well. If you’re just getting into cocktail additions like bitters, then this is where you want to go next to up your home cocktail game.

The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan
pd

Please Don’t Tell, a speakeasy in New York City, is widely recognized for being one of the best bars not only in the city, but the entire country. One look at The PDT Cocktail Book and it’s easy to see why—owner Jim Meehan’s recipes are insight into what has been and is popular and how various ingredients are being combined in new and inventive ways. This book is great for those looking to see what the “Cocktail Revolution” you may have heard of is all about.

The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddocksavoy-cocktail

Craddock’s 1930 book is one of the first cocktail books to ever be published. Craddock was a bartender at the Savoy in London in the 20’s and 30’s and in that time produced many different classic cocktails, all of which are found within this books pages. With a first-hand look at Prohibition-era drinking, this book is a must for cocktail history buffs, even if you never mix a drink yourself.

Already have these? Still need more? Check these out:

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
What is a gruit, and where can you find one?
Gruit, the beer made without hops that you need to try
Beer snifter chalice glass

Most beers you know and love today have four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. That’s largely due to the centuries-old German beer purity law, or reinheitsgebot, which demanded that beer be made exclusively using these ingredients and set the standard for today’s brews. 
But beer is an ancient beverage — historians believe its story stretches back to 5th millennium BC in Iran and went on to be enjoyed by the likes of Egyptian pharaohs and the Greek philosophers. However, if Socrates or Tutankhamun ever enjoyed a pint in their days, the beer was likely missing one of those four critical ingredients: the hop.
In today’s hop-hungry climate of India pale ales (and hazy IPAs, New England IPAs, as well as milkshake IPAs, and others), it seems impossible that beer could exist without hops. The fact is that many other natural ingredients can serve as substitutes for the bittering, aromatic, and flavoring characteristics of hops. Today, if a beer relies on other herbs to fill the "hops" role, the beverage is classified as a gruit.

Gruit is the German word for herb. Instead of depending on hops, these brews use exotic additives like bog myrtle, horehound, elderflowers, and yarrow to offset the sweetness of the malts and create a more complex beverage.
Thanks to the creativity of modern breweries, you don’t have to travel back to the Middle Ages to find a gruit (though if you can, please let us in on your time travel technology). You can try them right now, but you will have to do some detective work.
“Authentic” gruits can be tough to find in the mainstream marketplace. That’s because some laws require hops to be present for a product to be sold as beer. Not having the “beer” title would limit distribution and sales channels for some breweries.  To illustrate how rare gruits are in the current marketplace, there are currently 32,576 American IPAs listed on the Beer Advocate database and only 380 gruits.
But don’t despair — this list will help you get started on the path toward discovering modern versions of the ancient ale. Start your gruit journey here:

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Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s competing recipes for National Michelada Day
Smokey, fruity, or spicy - there's a Michelada recipe for every taste
national michelada day modelo x dos hombres hero image 1

Today, July 12, is National Michelada Day, so that's the ideal excuse to kick back with this classic Mexican beer cocktail. Beer cocktails aren't the easiest thing to create as beer has such a low alcohol percentage and high amount of water compared to spirits -- but when you get it right, there are few things more refreshing. As the beloved combination of Mexican lager, lime, and tomato juice proves, there's a great way to mix almost any ingredient.

Another fun aspect of the Michelada is its flexibility. You can use clamato juice in place of the tomato juice, pour in an extra shot of spirit, and add whatever combination of hot sauces or umami sauces that your heart desires. As the drink is traditionally served in a glass with a salt rim, you can also add bonus flavors here like making a chili salt or using salt and pepper. And of course you can garnish with anything from fruit to pickles.

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Julianna McIntosh's Fancy Long Island Iced Tea with Boozy Ice Cubes
fancy long island iced tea unnamed 5

Here at The Manual, we love a big bowl of punch for a summer party when you have a bunch of friends coming round and you want to serve tasty drinks to everyone without any fuss. And with a few extra flourishes, like fresh fruit and fancy ice cubes, you can turn any simple punch recipe into something really special.

A new recipe from Julianna McIntosh, aka join_jules, makes use of ready to drink cans of Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea to make creating a punch even easier. McIntosh shows off her punch recipe in a new Instagram Reel, which includes making boozy ice cubes with edible flowers ahead of time. These cool the drink but don't water it down as they melt, which is a genius hack especially for hot summer parties.

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