This is the fifth part of a GFR holiday tradition: Dean Tudor’s annual list of his favourite new cookbooks and food and wine related volumes in bookstores now. Dean covers some of the big names, but always includes interesting and sometimes overlooked gems from this year. Click here to browse the whole series for 2013, and watch for a new category of book every week. – Malcolm Jolley, Ed.
WINE, COCKTAILS, SPIRITS & BEER BOOKS
HELLO, WINE (Chronicle Books, 2013, 228 $29 CAN paper covers) is by Melanie Wagner. She tells us the most essential things you need to know about wine. It’s delivered in point form, a good idea, and relatively quick to memorize. There are also recommendations for the US market, illustrations, and party menus for tasters.
THE ESSENTIAL SCRATCH & SNIFF GUIDE TO BECOMING A WINE EXPERT (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 22 boards $24.99 CAN) is by Richard Betts, a Master Sommelier. His belief is that wine is a grocery, not a luxury. It comes complete with a map and aroma wheels. As a scratch and sniff book , it has aromas of pears, stone fruit, red fruit, vanilla, black fruit and assorted spices and herbs (dill). It is a great evening’s entertainment.
BORDEAUX LEGENDS (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013, 288 pages, $62 CAN hard covers) is by Jane Anson, a wine writer and educator specializing in Bordeaux wines. It’s a 500 year history of the five First Growths as listed in 1855 – Chateaux Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, and then Mouton Rothschild more than a century later. There are notes on how the wines are produced and sold in the marketplace. And it is also loaded with anecdotes, historical data, and great photos (from Isabelle Rozenbaum).
COCKTAILS FOR A CROWD (Chronicle Books, 2013, 96 pages, $22.95 CAN) is by Kara Newman, and features 40 recipes for making popular drinks in party-pleasing batches. So bring out the pitchers! Here she scales upwards for punches and cocktails, such as a litre of margaritas (one of my faves). There’s the usual primer on equipment, ingredients and garnishes. But of course – beware of leftovers!
THE BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS & BARTENDING WITH FLAIR (Page Street, 2013, 224 pages, $21.99 CAN paper covers) is by Jeremy LeBlanc and Christine Dionese. The main chapters include party drinks and punches, classics with a twist, exotic cocktails, and a collection of syrups-infusions-elixirs. There are also an enormous series of tips and tricks and advice for enhancing your bartending experience. Try The Crawling Milan or a Rhubarb Syrup or Sangria Manzana. Of particular value: the book is constructed so that the pages nicely lie flat.
WINTER COCKTAILS (Quirk Books, 2013; distr. Random House Canada, 2013, 160 pages, $24.95 CAN) is by Maria DelMar Sacasa. She presents 100 seasonal recipes for mulled ciders, hot toddies, punches, pitchers, plus cocktail snacks. You can re-create hot buttered rum, English Christmas punch, pumpkin-bourbon egg nog, coquito, and salted caramel hot chocolate. She’s also got a whack of entertaining and food ideas, plus bar set ups.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE COCKTAIL (Race Point Publishing, 2013, 144 pages, $18 CAN hard covers) is by Amy Zavatto. She tries to construct the perfect cocktail from the bottom up: should it be stirred or shaken? In which order do you pour ingredients? How many ice cubes to be added? What stemware is appropriate? Mixing and straining? It is a tech book, designed to appeal to the male techie who drinks. There are blueprints for each cocktail (about 75 of these) with recipes for classic and contemporary drinks. It is a very handy size for keeping at the bar.
APOTHECARY COCKTAILS (Fair Winds Press, 2013, 160 pages, $23.99 CAN spiral bound) is by Warren Bobrow. He’s collated many restorative drinks from the past, with some contemporary spins. We used to call these things “snake oil”, as charlatans would tout them from a wagon. But pharmacies did prepare tincture, butters and herbal remedies with an alcohol base for curative benefits, usually poor digestion. Now they have appeared in trendy bars. Bitters and vermouths fly off the shelves of liquor stores. Bobrow gives a history (Chartreuse, Peychaud’s Bitters, etc.), and goes on to discuss herbs, flowers, extracts, and spices. Oh, would that we had Everclear in Ontario (it’s in Alberta) – 196 proof distilled spirit, perfect for infusions – so that we can make our own at home. Nevertheless, this is a delightful book, made all the better with a spiral binding so that it can be flat on the table.
diffordsguide GIN (Firefly Books, 2013, 350 pages, $39.95 CAN hard covers) is a bartender’s bible by Simon Difford, an award-winning spirits writer and consultant. Here he spotlights the craft gin distilling movement, as well as the larger boys. It is the story of juniper infusion, the travel from Netherlands to London, the penny gin, the G & T, the G & French and G & It. There’s a chapter on how it is made, 18 profiles of the big distilleries (e.g. Tanqueray and their Rangpur), some classic gin cocktail recipes, and a directory/tasting notes for about 175 gin brands from around the world (BC’s Victoria Gin is here).
GIN, VODKA, TEQUILA (Duncan Baird Publishers, 2013; distr. Random House of Canada, 208 pages, $20.95 CAN hard covers) is by Brian Lucas. It has been extracted from Duncan Baird’s The Big Book of Cocktails. There’s a short primer on bars, followed by a long chapter on gin, then vodka, and then tequila (shortest chapter). If you love white spirits, this is the book for you. Preps listed in both avoirdupois and metric forms of measurement. A large typeface also helps.
INSTANT EXPERT WHISKEY (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013, 144 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) is by John Lamond, and is one a series labelled “Instant Expert”, a sort-of Dummies guide, but more compact for traveling or shopping. Lamond takes us through the tech process and ends with tasting notes, featuring single malts and bourbons plus some blends. There’s a glossary, but its main importance is its portability and thumbnail sketches.
DRINK MORE WHISKEY (Chronicle Books, 2012, 176 pages, $24 CAN hard covers) is by Daniel Yaffe, with the subtitle “everything you need to know about your new favourite drink”. It is meant for consumers who are looking to drink better whiskey from Canada, US, Scotland, Ireland, and other places. To this end he’s also got 20 recipes for cocktails scattered throughout. For example, there are three from Canada – Scofflaw, Court Jester, Saskatchewan Punch (do these suggest Duffy, Ford and Wallin?) – along with descriptions of how they came to be.
Last year I mentioned a book DRINKING GAMES. There’s an update – a kit of beer mats (DRINKING GAMES PACK, Ryland, Peters and Small, 2013, $16.95 CAN). Here are 15 beer mats (3 each of 5 designs) with the rules for 25 drinking games. A necessary accompaniment to beer…
WORLD BEER (DK Books, 2013, 300 pages, $40 CAN hard covers) details over 100 different styles of beer from 800 craft and classic breweries with nearly 1000 different brews. It covers Unibroue’s Maudite and Vancouver Island Brewery’s Hermannator Ice Bock through to Belgian Achel beers. It’s arranged alphabetically by brewery, with great thumbnail sketches and 750 full-colour photos (mostly label shots). Canadian breweries are limited to just 33.
Dean Tudor is a Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus, The Treasurer of The Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada and creator of Canada’s award-winning wine satire site at fauxvoixvincuisine.blogspot.com. Visit Dean’s websites at deantudor.com and gothicepicures.blogspot.com. His motto: “Look it up and you’ll remember it; screw it up and you’ll never forget it.”