What to Drink with What you Eat
by: Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page
It’s hard not to be impressed with the work of Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. With such industry favorites as Becoming A Chef (1995), Culinary Artistry (1996), Dining Out (1998), Chef’s Night Out (2001), and The New American Chef (2003) you can only expect their latest endeavor “What to Drink with What you Eat” to be a welcome addition to any library.
I was first introduced to Andrew and Karen’s work through “Culinary Artistry”. It was their extremely succinct and detailed examination into what it meant to be a chef that caught me, and it was the expansive and well researched collection of flavor pairings that then held my attention. I have since made it a habit to recommend this book to chefs and mixologists alike.
This new volume continues on with the core pattern set forth in Culinary Artistry. It similarly addresses the concepts of flavor pairings, but with the specific goal of showing how flavors can, and should, be worked together in matching both food and drink. Wine of course is the primary liquid accompaniment that will come to most people’s minds, but they don’t stop there. They expand their reach to include beer, cocktails, coffee, tea, and even how water can play a role in the culinary experience.
While there are eight chapters that make up this book, there are essentially two different roles that this book embodies. The first is reading material that provides insights and suggestions regarding how both food and drink complete one another and how famous chefs and restaurants across the country are starting to expand their culinary horizons to embrace liquid cuisines as well. The second, and perhaps most important, feature of this book is the comprehensive listings of various food products, and their recommended liquid accompaniments. This listing is then reversed, and for various liquids, they list the food flavors that would be best to be paired with them.
I feel that What to Drink with What you Eat is poised to be an important and indispensable resource for anybody in the restaurant industry, as well as for amateur culinarians who wish to expand their horizons.
The Ultimate A to Z Bar Guide
by: Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
I always find it interesting to take a gander behind a bar and see what reference materials might be available for the staff to use. With over a thousand different cocktails that might possibly be asked for, these reference guides can be an important source of information and stress relief for even the best of bartenders.
There is a wide variety of cocktail recipe books on the market, and each bartender and bar manager needs to take a little care at choosing the reference material they want to rely on. Often you will find several different books tucked in some discreet location, but there will almost certainly be one that shows the dog-eared signs of frequent use.
I think it would be difficult to identify the definitive recipe book that all bartenders should be expected to be familiar with, but “The Ultimate A-toZ Bar Guide” would definitely find its place on any short-list of such books that I might compile.
From its highly approachable size, to the easy to read text, this book just feels like a great reference manual, even without actually reading any of it. Once you actually dive into the book, and start looking at the wealth of information that the Herbst’s have compiled, you soon realize that your first impressions are well rewarded. There are over 1,000 different cocktail recipes that are presented in alphabetical order, and scattered throughout these you will find almost as many entries that provide concise but highly informative descriptions for a wide variety of ingredients, processes, and terminology associated with bartending and mixology. And just to keep things a little interesting, scattered throughout its pages you will find a variety of quotes, jokes, and proverbs.
Just as an English dictionary isn’t really the best beginners book for learning a language, neither should this book be considered as a tool that will teach you how to be a bartender. It will however be an indispensable resource for you when you find that you can’t remember how to make a Cabaret cocktail, want to learn some background information about the Margarita, or want to find out what Parfait Amour is. All of which makes it perfect to have nearby at all times.
The Book of Bourbon
by: Gary Regan and Mardee Haiden Regan
Unlike some of the other compendiums of Bourbon tasting notes available, Gary and Mardee provide a view of this spirit that is not only educational, but highly entertaining as well. They bring a lot of their own personal spirit into this volume, with a wry sense of humor that allows you to enjoy your reading every time you pick this book up. The result is what feels like actually joining the Regans as they travel through Bourbon country, not only tasting the spirit, but learning about the history and culture of this classic American product as well.
I was pleased to see that in addition to providing the requisite tasting notes for each of the brands discussed, they also included an entire chapter which describes how the reader can approach the tasting process for their own personal edification and participation.
In the back of the book, they include a wealth of recipes that make good use of the whiskey's they have just introduced you to. In their section on cocktails, they not only include very good recipes for such classics as the Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, and the Sazerac, but they also include a recipe for homemade Orange Bitters, a classic ingredient in many cocktails but almost impossible to find now days. In addition to cocktails, they also list a very enticing handfull of cookery recipes that use bourbon in various ways.
I do however wish that they had made a point of including pictures of the individual bottles or at least labels of the whiskeys being discussed, after all, when you are looking at a crowded shelf in the liquor store, it can often be difficult to carefully read every label.
The Complete Book of Spirits
by: Anthony Dias Blue
Providing a details guide to a wide variety of spirits, this book includes historical details, production methods, tasting notes, as well as a variety of recipes for cocktails and other mixed drinks.
by: Marcia Simmons, Jonas Halpren
DIY Cocktails provides a step by step guide to understanding why the "classic" cocktail recipes work, and then encouraging the reader to try their own modifications in an effort to become more comfortable with coming up with their own recipes.