Sep 17, 2013

five more books to booze with in 2013...

It was right after the new years when I posted five books to booze with in 2013. It's been more than nine months since then and I thought maybe it's time for a follow up... Here are another five books about booze I enjoyed reading this spring and summer.


"The Drunken Botanist"
by Amy Stewart

This book didn't see the shelf yet... I don't even remember how many times I grabbed it to check a cocktail recipe, to look for the ingredients of a liqueur or just simply to flip between its pages to find an article to read. It lives on my coffee table all the time where I can reach easily with two other great reference books: Gavin D. Smith and Graeme Wallace's "Discovering Scotland's Distilleries" and Ingvar Ronde's "Malt Whisky Yearbook 2013". The Drunken Botanist explores hundreds of different ways of using leaves, herbs, trees, flowers, vegetables and fruits in drinks, methods to extract, ferment and blend them, history and stories behind the process with pages of drink recipes, gardening tips and scientific explanations. It has a very smartly thought layout, the index at the end works great and the contents list up front also makes sense. You basically never get lost and it takes only a few seconds to find what you are looking for. On the other hand its clean but stylish design makes it very enjoyable to read it like a hip contemporary magazine. And most importantly all the sections are very well written. I learned a great deal of new stuff and still referring it almost daily. A must have book for everybody who is into different kinds of alcoholic drinks and mixing.

"Stillhouse Stories, Tunroom Tales"
by Gavin D. Smith

Gavin is one of my favorite whisky writers of our era. I immensely enjoyed his earlier books and articles he wrote for different publications. This book is more like a sequel to his book The Whisky Men. He interviewed 12 names who spent their entire life in Scotch whisky industry. 12 unique characters with interesting stories from different eras and generations all occupied different roles and positions: A maltman from The Isle of Skye, a stillman from Orkney Islands, a cooper from Perth and a master blender from Glasgow and more. What I really liked is the easygoing style of Gavin letting the interviewees to talk freely and tell their memories without any restrictive or leading questions. There are no interceptions or whatsoever I can remember disturbing the nature of conversations. The whole book is more like listening to those amazing personalities in a pub in Highlands over a few drams next to the fireplace when it's pouring outside... It's an old school storytelling style without any limitations of time and print space. Or it made me feel that way... Even the look of the book is like it is printed in early 20. century. I breezed through the pages in a few days and really wished we had 12 more stories to follow. Heart warming, simple, naive and plain style with quite a lot of information about the near past of Scotch whisky distilleries, blending houses and independent bottlers. I cannot imagine any whisky geek who wouldn't enjoy this book big time.

"Geuze & Kriek"
The Secret of Lambic
by Jef Van den Steen

I love sour Flemish ales and when I first saw this book I knew that I had to have it. So far I know it is the only publication out there solely about Lambic beers. First of all I have to say the book looks absolutely gorgeous. Designed like an artist monograph from its paper quality to its amazing photographs and layout. It has an absolute charming appeal. The introduction section delivers all the information needed to understand the very different nature of instantaneous fermentation, history of Lambic beers, blending Geuze and producing Kriek. After the introduction Jef Van den Steen visits every Lambic brewery and Geuze blending house, interviews brewers and blenders and focus on differences of their brewing techniques and gives us very detailed notes about their product line. Actually this is the book inspired me to visit Leuven, Beersel and Halle and Zenne Valley this summer. It was an amazing journey where I visited two breweries featured in the book and tasted dozens of different expressions from many different brewers and blenders from the same geography. The notes I took when I read the book back in last spring were a big help. If you are drawn to Belgian beer you will adore this book. Guaranteed...

"Rakı"
The Spirit of Turkey
by Erdir Zat

Finally a great book about my country Turkey's national spirit Rakı I can recommend to everybody... Kudos to Erdir Zat, great work..! It is filled with all kinds of know-how about Rakı including the production techniques, its history, the food culture shaped around it and even the music to listen to when sipping. It gives a great picture of how a drink can create its own entire culture in a society and how it can be loved so much by a nation. The book is edited with very well selected archival photographs, quick recipes of mezes (special tapas to accompany rakı) and interviews with poets, singers, actors and artists identified with it. Zat also listed a very detailed and impressive bibliography for his readers who might be interested to reach more information. Literally every time I flip the pages the book makes me homesick. If you already read my post about Rakı a few weeks ago and liked it getting a copy of this book might be fun. It is originally written in Turkish and then translated in English and German with the identical layout and print. It can be purchased from Amazon.

"How to Love Wine"
A Memoir and Manifesto
by Eric Asimov

Eric Asimov is the chief wine critic for the New York Times and a truly wine and food lover. I started to follow his notes after I moved to New York and always appreciated his casual approach to a delicate topic which is usually identified with snobbery, wealth and arrogance. His book How to Love Wine is not a book which will teach you rules about how to taste wine, which wine to buy, what food to choose with different varieties of wine or will not lecture you with pages long of information about terroir, different grapes, fermentation techniques, etc. It is a simple memoir and his very personal intentions and motives about wine and wine tasting. It is an honest, smart and and intelligent book. A great introduction to wine enthusiasts who wants to broaden their interest one step wider and a great weekend read for any wine lover with a couple bottles of their favorite wine.