The best bartenders are also bookworms, constantly researching the latest tastes and trends. But with so many titles to choose from, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of stale prose and sloppy recipes. We flipped through the stack to give you the top liquor books to read this month.
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For bartenders, this traditionally meant face-to-face training or interactions at conferences, cocktail competitions, or other personal activities. Much of it has shifted online during the pandemic, and some face-to-face interactions are slowly returning. But the forced downtime of the past year and a half has led some bar professionals to put their thoughts – and recipes – in book form.
Of course, the following volumes aren’t the first pandemic-era books written by bartenders. Just as traditional publishers stepped on the brakes on cocktail books in 2020, nimble bartenders took up the sluggish, quickly self-publishing books in digital and on-demand print formats, many of which doubled as fundraisers for the troubled hospitality community.
Compared to books that are meant to appeal to a broad audience, most of these bar books have a deliberately narrow focus, whether it’s about delving deep into a regional market or indulging in a quirky point of view. Each of the following publications offers that certain something, from interesting observations to bar techniques to local variations on classic drinks. Since these have bypassed the filter of commercial editing, they are not watered down for beginners, but offered in the language and voice of experienced experts, with more complex recipes than the norm. It’s as close to bartender-to-bartender as possible without actually being in the room or on the zoom.
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