Spring brings an avalanche of new barbecue and grilling books each year. The green smoothie and kale brigade arrives just in time for New Year’s resolutions. And judging by the contents of our inboxes right now, autumn is clearly cocktail book season. Who knew?
The timing is certainly good. The long pandemic shutdown has rendered us shaken and muddled. A little stirring, with or without booze, might be just the ticket. This trio of cocktail cookbooks should appeal to a diverse crowd.
There’s Dale DeGroff’s update on his famous cocktail bible, “The New Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Master Mixologist, with 500 Recipes” (Clarkson Potter, $35). The father of the craft cocktail movement, DeGross was the first bartender to use 19th-century cocktail recipes to create hand-crafted modern sips. Now he’s updated his 2002 tome to reflect the changing times, adding new recipes and tales. This one’s for the serious cocktail connoisseur looking to up their game.
Colombia-based mixologist and gin distiller Vincent Pollard teamed up with Brooklyn comic book illustrator Shawn McManus for a book inspired by Al Capone, Tony Soprano and their colleagues. “Behind Bars: High-Class Cocktails Inspired by Lowlife Gangsters” (Prestel, $15) makes a fun gift for fans of DC Comics, “The Sopranos” and, of course, boozy sips.
And then there’s the colorful “Delish Ultimate Cocktails” (Hearst Home, $25). Subtitled “Why Limit Happy to an Hour?,” this cocktail book from Joanna Saltz and Delish, the popular recipe and food site, offers 100 splashy recipes for mimosas, martinis and other cocktails with a twist. The book is a riot of color, snappy patter and Insta-worthy snaps, much like the website, and the recipes include an assortment of tempting mocktails.
Some drinks are aimed at the 20-something crowd. Yes, Flamin’ Hot Bloody Mary, we’re looking at you. Rimmed with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and lime zest and garnished with more of the spicy snacks, it should wow the tailgate party crowd. If we ever get to tailgate or party again.
Other recipes will have wider appeal, including a Blackberry Faux-jito that adds crushed blackberries to the muddling mixture along with a minty homemade limeade, as well as three easy variations on the Mojito theme — with rum.
Mojitos, 3 Ways
Makes 3 cocktails
½ cup lime juice
3 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided use
1 bunch fresh mint
¾ cup fruit of choice (see below)
6 ounces white rum
12-ounce can seltzer
Divide lime juice evenly among 3 glasses. To each glass, add 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 mint leaves and ¼ cup fruit. Using the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint and fruit.
Fill each glass 2/3 full with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces rum and top with seltzer. Garnish with lime slice, mint and matching fruit.
Pineapple Mojito: Use chopped pineapple in the drink and garnish with a small wedge.
Strawberry Mojito: Quarter the strawberries before muddling, but save the prettiest whole strawberries for garnish.
Blueberry Mojito: Use blueberries in the drink. To garnish, skewer blueberries on a cocktail pick to make them look fancy!
Makes 4 mocktails
Mint Simple Syrup:
½ cup packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup fresh lime juice
Two 12-ounce cans seltzer
Make mint simple syrup: In a small pot, crush the mint leaves using a wooden spoon. Add sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 3 minutes. Let cool, then strain out mint leaves, pressing with a wooden spoon to help release the liquid.
Mojitos: In a small bowl, combine the blackberries and 1 teaspoon sugar, using a wooden spoon to crush the berries. Divide mixture among glasses, and add 2 tablespoons simple syrup and lime juice to each glass. Fill glasses with ice, top with seltzer and garnish with fresh mint.
— Courtesy “Delish Ultimate Cocktails” by Joanna Saltz and the editors of Delish (Hearst Home, $25)