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13 Beautiful Cocktail Recipe Books

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mental floss

Warm weather is fast approaching, making it a great time to perfect your seasonal cocktails. Break out your shaker and jigger because you’re going to need them: These beautiful cocktail recipe books are sure to yield equally beautiful drinks. 

1. SPRITZ; $11

Few things are more refreshing on a hot day than a bubbly cocktail. This book is dedicated to one of Italy’s favorite aperitivo drinks: the Spritz. The beautiful tome explores the history of the classic cocktail and provides 50 different recipes for drinks and snacks to try at home. Each recipes sits beside a full color photograph and elegantly chosen typography.

Find it: Amazon

2. THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK; $15  

Please Don’t Tell is a popular New York speakeasy known for its creative cocktails. Mixologist and PDT operator Jim Meehan shares some of his favorite recipes and bar secrets in this book, which features more than 304 cocktail recipes—featuring vibrantly colored illustrations by Chris Gall—as well as tips and tricks of the trade.

Find it: Amazon

3. THE DEAD RABBIT DRINKS MANUAL; $16 

Here's another quality New York City cocktail lounge with a beautiful recipe book. Founder Sean Muldoon and bar manager Jack McGarry tell some of the bar's tales and outline its recipes for its cocktails, each of which is accompanied by a detailed history of the drink as well as stunning photographs.

Find it: Amazon

4. THE CRAFT COCKTAIL PARTY; $17 

Author Julie Reiner is often credited with helping revive craft cocktails. She co-owns a selection of cocktail bars in New York and was named one of 2014's Top 10 Mixologists by Food & Wine. With credentials like these, it's no surprise that this is one serious recipe book. With plenty of full color photographs, the tome is perfect as a coffee table book when you’re not referencing it.

Find it: Amazon

5. THE COCKTAIL CHRONICLES; $17 

If books authored by professional mixologists intimidate you, this guide—written by Imbibe! editor Paul Clarke—might be a better fit. This book provides simple recipes that are easily replicated, and small, charming illustrations of tools and drinks are tucked into the columns to keep things interesting.

Find it: Amazon

6. PARIS COCKTAILS; $13 

Save money on airfare by creating lovely Parisian cocktails right in your own living room. This extensive guide comes with more than 100 recipes inspired by the French capital. Along with recipes, the book also gives tips for how to throw swanky Parisian-themed parties and provides reviews of Paris and American bars. The whole thing is housed in a beautiful red book with a martini glass cut-out showing a map of Paris. 

Find it: Amazon

7. AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO COCKTAILS; $14

Illustrator Elizabeth Graeber brings Orr Shtuhl's cocktail recipes to life with playful illustrations of penguins, foxes, and more. Each recipe comes with an adorable cartoon; for example, the Sidecar recipe comes with a drawing of a man in a sidecar while the recipe for Blood and Sand has a picador and bull.

Find it: Amazon

8. COCKTAILS OF THE MOVIES; $13 

Enjoy a White Russian like The Dude or sip on a Champagne Cup like M. Gustave with this helpful guide to cinematic cocktails. Each recipe comes with a history of the drink, some context from the movie, and a full-page illustration of the character who drank it. 

Find it: Amazon

9. THE BARTENDER’S GUIDE; $40

Fall back on an old classic with this reprint of an 1862 cocktail guide, which is considered the first serious American recipe book on cocktails and punches. The reprint from Cocktail Kings comes with a beautiful green hardcover. 

Find it: Amazon

10. BEACHBUM BERRY’S POTIONS OF THE CARIBBEAN; $27 

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry provides some insight into some tropical drinks that capture the tiki bar aesthetic. There are 77 vintage Caribbean drink recipes inside, alongside stories of the people who created, served, and enjoyed the drinks. The fun recipe book is filled with colorful layouts, vintage illustrations, and rare historical photos.

Find it: Amazon

11. HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK; $13

For new parents: Unwind with a cocktail made after the kids are asleep. Each of the 20 recipes comes with a little nursery rhyme and an adorable ‘50s-style illustration by Eda Kaban. The clever book comes with board pages, so it can discreetly hide amongst your children’s books.

Find it: Amazon

12. A VISUAL GUIDE TO DRINK; $19 

Pop Chart Lab, known for their highly detailed posters and glassware, also has a book. This visual guide offers infographics, maps, charts, and recipes laid out in perfectly structured formats. Drinking has never been so organized! 

Find it: Amazon

13. TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD; $9 

This literary cocktail recipe book is perfect for any bookworm. It offers 65 different drink recipes with punny names like “Romeo and Julep” and “A Rum of One’s Own.” Each recipe is nicely paired with commentary about the history of the book being used as inspiration. Along with drinks, the book also details various bar snacks and drinking games to go along with your cocktails. Best of all, there are impressive illustrations throughout the book by Lauren Mortimer. 

Find it: Amazon

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Bibo Barmaid
Bibo Barmaid Is Like a Keurig for Cocktails—and You Can Buy It Now
Bibo Barmaid
Bibo Barmaid

To make great-tasting cocktails at home, you could take a bartending class, or you could just buy a fancy gadget that does all the work for you. Imbibers interested in the hands-off approach should check out Bibo Barmaid, a cocktail maker that works like a Keurig machine for booze.

According to Supercall, all you need to turn the Bibo Barmaid system into your personal mixologist is a pouch of liquor and a pouch of cocktail flavoring. Bibo's liquor options include vodka, whiskey, rum, and agave spirit (think tequila), which can be paired with flavors like cucumber melon, rum punch, appletini, margarita, tangerine paloma, and mai tai.

After choosing your liquor and flavor packets, insert them into the machine, press the button, and watch as it dilutes the mixture and pours a perfect single portion of your favorite drink into your glass—no muddlers or bar spoons required.

Making cocktails at home usually means investing in a lot of equipment and ingredients, which isn't always worth it if you're preparing a drink for just yourself or you and a friend. With Bibo, whipping up a cocktail isn't much harder than pouring yourself a glass of wine.

Bibo Barmaid is now available on Amazon for $240, and cocktail mixes are available on Bibo's website starting at $35 for 18 pouches. The company is working on rolling out its liquor pouches in liquor stores and other alcohol retailers across the U.S.

[h/t Supercall]

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iStock
Is There Any Point in Letting Red Wine Breathe?
iStock
iStock

by Aliya Whiteley

At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.

By this point in the evening, most people don’t want to be told that they need to uncork the bottle and let the wine sit for at least 30 minutes before it becomes pleasantly drinkable. Yet that's (by the letter of the unwritten law) what you're supposed to do.

But why? Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons.

Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in 2011 a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at 5500 years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored.

Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an ... interesting aroma when first opened—the kind of "interesting aroma" that bears more than a passing resemblance to rotten eggs. Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.

It’s also possible that the concept springs from the early 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III asked Louis Pasteur to investigate why so much French wine was spoiling in transit. Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it. In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor.

However, how much of that actually matters today?

Many experts agree that there is no point in simply pulling out the cork and letting the wine sit in an open bottle for any period of time; the wine won’t come into enough contact with oxygen to make any difference to the taste.

However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity. The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine.

Nowadays we don’t really age wine anymore; we make it with the aim of drinking it quickly, within a year or so. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins (compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds) can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste. These include wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, for instance.

If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? Even if you don’t, it's an experiment that justifies opening two bottles of wine.

One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. So remember Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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