With the holidays approaching, there are all sorts of reasons to want a cocktail book. You might be looking for a recipe to impress your guests or maybe you’re in search of a coffee table book to gift your cocktail loving friend. Perhaps you’re just anticipating needing a drink after spending time with certain family members.
Whatever the reason, here are five local cocktail and bar books to dive into this season.
“Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em” by Neal Bodenheimer and Emily Timberlake
Neal Bodenheimer’s bar Cure has racked up awards for its craft cocktails. Also a co-owner of Cane & Table, Peychaud’s and Vals, Bodenheimer in October released this collection of drink recipes from his bars organized by type with several variations, like cocktail family trees.
There are original recipes including “Charm Offensive” and “Ante Up,” concoctions by bartender Nicholas Jarrett.
But the book is more than a series of drink recipes, it also busts some myths in New Orleans cocktail lore; it includes bar food recipes; and there’s an essay on the city’s Black-owned bars by L. Kasimu Harris.
“Cocktail Dive Bar” by T. Cole Newton
The recipes in T. Cole Newton’s “Cocktail Dive Bar” may not be as categorized as in “Cure,” but the book is full of good stories and focuses on a goal he has for his own bars 12 Mile Limit and The Domino: making good cocktails casual and approachable.
Over the years, Newton has learned a thing or two about running a bar and offers advice on how to do so responsibly, including training employees to look for signs of sexual misconduct and violence.
There are also black and white illustrations in lieu of photos by Bazil Zerinsky and Laura Sanders that readers can color in.
“Craft: The Eat Fit Guide to Zero Proof Cocktails” by Molly Kimball with Ethan Scaggs
With 50 visually appealing recipes from a bevy of local bartenders and chefs, “Craft” shows that you don’t have to deprive yourself just because you’re alcohol-free. Nor do you have to be alcohol-free to enjoy the creative recipes within.
While the sober alternatives to alcoholic beverages have historically included sugary, headache-inducing sodas or just water, a growing alcohol-free movement in New Orleans is giving zero-proof drinks a makeover. The book also includes practical tips on barware and glassware as well as a guide to bitters and other drink embellishments and ingredients.
“The Cafe Wedding” by Sue Strachan
Sue Strachan explores the history, lore, and evolution of the café brulot, a New Orleans classic with French origins. The warm, aromatic coffee-based beverage incorporates flamed brandy, orange liqueur and a blend of spices. Many of the city’s grande dame restaurants serve the drink, including Galatoire’s, Antoine’s and Arnaud’s, where it is typically offered after a meal. Strachan’s book, published by LSU Press, incorporates recipes and other fun facts about the iconic drink.
“Local Spirit: Neighborhood Bars of Orleans Parish” by Rick Dobbs and Ken Murphy
Growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi, photographer and Bay St. Louis bar owner Ken Murphy has been checking out New Orleans bars since the ’90s. He and book designer Rick Dobbs spent nearly four years putting together this photo collection of more than 120 bars in Orleans Parish. The 196-page book highlights local favorites rather than those catering to tourists, but the bars range from the one at the Columns Hotel to the dive Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge.