A Summer Reading List for Cocktailians

- by Selena Ricks

Summertime is all about lounging, and reading a good book while sipping a cool cocktail is a relaxing way to enjoy the season. By now, you may have read all the novels on your summer wishlist, so if you're looking for inspiration, check out these cocktalian tomes now on bookstore shelves. Best to read them with a drink in hand.

  • "The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry" by Dan Searing (Sterling Publishing, $14.95)

    Dan Searing, founder of the DC Craft Bartender Guild and a partner at Room 11 in Washington, D.C., dives into the history of the ultimate party beverage--punch. With 50 vintage recipes and 25 contemporary recipes to choose from, this book will satisfy party hosts looking to entertain groups large and small. The illustrations bring the recipes to life, and easy-to-follow instructions make this a user-friendly guide for punch-makers of all skill levels.

  • "The Mixellany Guide to Vermouths & Other Aperitifs" by Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller (Mixellany Limited, $12.95)

    If you visited the Tales of the Cocktail bookstore, you may have seen this new release from liquor historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller. Otherwise, look for the book release in September. Brown and Miller delve into the aromatic world of vermouths, amaros and bitter aperitifs, a category they say has been undervalued since the end of Prohibition. The introduction of vermouth had a profound impact on American cocktails, from the Martini to the Manhattan, and is once again captivating imbibers.

  • "DIY Cocktails: A Simple Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Drinks" by Marcia Simmons and Jonas Halpren (Adams Media Corp., $16.95)

    A handy guide from the editors of Drinkoftheweek.com, this book breaks drink-making down to nine easy-to-remember ratios. Written for the novice bartender, the recipes in the book include basic instructions as well as inspiration for readers to create their own twists, and therefore, make their own signature drinks. There's even a notes section for budding mixologists to jot down their own concoctions.

  • "Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation, and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour" by Dan Dunn (Crown Publishing Group, $14.99)

    Dan Dunn reflects on his years as a nightlife columnist for Playboy--and as you can imagine, debauchery ensues. His tales of life as a professional boozehound bachelor are splashed with recipes and advice, such as "Hangovers and How to Beat Them." Self-deprecating and sobering at times, Dunn's memoir will let you live vicariously without the shame--or the hangover.

  • "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" by Ted Haigh (Quarry Books, $19.99)

    You may have read the first edition of this book by Ted Haigh, aka Dr. Cocktail, back in 2004 when orange bitters were not a household ingredient. Recently updated to include more rare drink recipes and an appendix of the movers and shakers behind the cocktail renaissance, this book is worth a new look. His historical facts and expanded anecdotes make for an entertaining read.

Here's a little something to enjoy while reading...

Horse and Carriage Punch by Simon Ford
From "The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry"
  • 5 oranges, peeled; peels sliced into thin strips
  • 5 lemons, peeled; peels sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup fine white sugar
  • 1 750 ml. bottle Plymouth Gin
  • 2 1/2 cups St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 3 1/8 cups chamomile tea
  • 1 2/3 cups lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup blood orange liqueur (substitute orange liqueur)
  • 1/3 cup Golden Honey Syrup (recipe follows)
  • 1 750mL bottle Perrier-Jouet Champagne (substitute sparkling wine)
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Elderberries, optional
**Makes 20 to 30 servings

In a punch bowl, muddle the orange and lemon peels with the sugar. Add the next six ingredients, stirring to combine. Add ice cubes, and top the punch with chilled champagne. Garnish with orange and lemon slices and elderberries, if using.