You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Thirsting for a good read? Put these 4 drinks books on your wish list


After a fun but often chaotic holiday season, whiling away an afternoon with a good book — transporting you to a new world, perhaps, or revealing something new about your current one — can work wonders for the soul. Here are four books you might consider adding to your Christmas wish list if you want to learn more about the beer, wine, spirits and cocktails that will no doubt contribute to your merrymaking this December.

Wine like a boss

It’s no wonder that Mark Oldman has become one of the most well-known experts on wine in the country. He’s written multiple books on the subject — including “How to Drink Like a Billionaire: Mastering Wine with Joie de Vivre” ($28.95, Regan Arts) — and has been a featured speaker at many a wine festival, including the Austin Food & Wine Fest for multiple years, because he knows how to distill big ideas into informed but pint-size chunks.

That’s no different with “Billionaire,” an engaging guide to just about anything you could want to know about wine: how to pair it with food (“reds can swim with the fishes” while “whites have a beef”), why your enjoyment of a certain bottle isn’t proportional to its price and even how to properly decapitate your Champagne bottle without hurting anyone. It’s a cool party trick, to say the least.

People who love lists will feel particularly at home with Oldman’s book, which also offers his recommendations for different varietals of wine. His 10 Best Alternatives to Pinot Grigio, for example, will introduce you to wines you’ve probably never even heard of, like the peachy, floral white grape Arneis from Italy.

A cocktail renaissance

Though New York Times drinks writer Robert Simonson’s first booze book was about the Old-Fashioned, the cocktail that ultimately turned him away from wine was the Sazerac, and thank goodness it did.

He’s now compiled an engrossing narrative history about the modern cocktail renaissance that brought back the classics and then riffed on them. “A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World” (Ten Speed Press, $27) features the influential people behind the revolution as well as cocktail recipes.

The real-life people who color his tale are so precisely rendered that it’s as if these quirky characters formed straight from Simonson’s imagination. They include, briefly, Austin’s own Jason Kosmas, who helped create New York’s Employees Only in 2004, possibly “the highest-grossing cocktail bar, per square foot, in the country.” The gone-too-soon Sasha Petraske, of the legendary Milk & Honey, is a more prominent pillar of America’s transformed bar scene.

Of the Sazerac, Simonson writes that “it was a seamless, cultivated, elegant whole, and like nothing I’d ever experienced before. It was a drink with a story, a past, and more depth than most people I know. The world stopped.”

You might well feel that sense of wonder about his book — and the people in it — by the end.

Go on a beer adventure

With “My Beer Year” ($16.95, Roost Books), certified cicerone Lucy Burningham taps into the essence of why craft beer has caught on so much. For fans, it’s a deeply personal passion, albeit one shared by a community of people who like to talk about it nonstop with each other and drink their best bottles together.

Her first-person narrative starts at the beginning of her journey to become a cicerone (the equivalent of a wine sommelier), which means readers are learning about beer and the brewers who make it right alongside her. There won’t be any doubt that she’s successful in her quest — her title as “certified cicerone” is on the cover of the book — because you’re meant to relax during the beer-soaked ride.

And it’s an easy one, even if the test to become a cicerone isn’t.

Her breezy writing style and descriptive stories will get you through half the book before you look up and realize you’re about an hour past your bedtime — or your mouth will be watering because you’re thirsty for one of those beers she’s enjoying, such as a wit that smells “like a floral perfume,” a kölsch whose color is “dried-gingko-leaf yellow” or an IPA whose “spike of bitterness ease(s) into warm earth and crushed blossoms.”

If you can use some exotic booze, let’s fly away

Despite the explosion of craft cocktails exposing drinkers to all manner of unusual spirits and liqueurs, there’s one type of whiskey that still remains elusive, even mysterious. Whiskey writer Dominic Roskrow is hoping to change that with “Whisky Japan: The Essential Guide to the World’s Most Exotic Whisky.” The immersive, coffee-table-book-size tome transports us to the perfectionist distilleries of Japan, making malted whiskies similar to Scotch.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking these complex spirits are mere copies of the internationally recognized Scottish whisky. Instead, Roskrow writes, “Japanese whisky has taken a Scottish blueprint and quite deliberately tweaked it to suit a Japanese palate.”

That palate is wide-ranging, “from huge, plummy, sherry-soaked, battering-ram oak, and industrial-strength peaty whiskies at one end, to whispering, delicate, floral, and throat-caressing gossamer at the other. And pretty much everything in between.”

The book helpfully provides information on Japanese-centric bars around the world, including in the U.S., where you’ll be able to find a hearty selection of bottles: everything from the slightly smoky, green apple-forward Hakushu 12 Year Old to the sweet toffee-filled Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel. Seek them out during your travels — they’ll reveal just as much, if not more, about Japanese tastes as the fermented beverage sake already has.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Insight and Books

Liberals wrong to always equate conservatism with racism

The confirmation hearings of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, provided plenty of drama that can help explain why racial tensions never seem to go away in America. This was particularly evident in the concluding panel of the hearings, which consisted of six black men, three opposing Sessions&rsquo...
Commentary: Lawmakers return to putting patients first
Commentary: Lawmakers return to putting patients first

Read, M.D., president, Texas Medical Association With the 2017 Texas legislative session underway, lawmakers will make thousands of choices. Some of those decisions will directly shape the future of Texas health care, how and who offers that health care to patients, and how various parties play a role within the health care system. Decisions &mdash...
Letters to the Editor: January 25, 2017
Letters to the Editor: January 25, 2017

Re: Jan. 17 article, “H-E-B’s Charles Butt pledges $100 million to train school leaders.” Kudos to Charles Butt and H-E-B for stepping up to support beleaguered school districts that are under siege by the so-called “school choice” corporations. If Texas’ millionaires and their corporations followed this lead, Texas...
Jack Hunter: A weekend of Americans talking past each other
Jack Hunter: A weekend of Americans talking past each other

Hunter is politics editor for Rare.us. When Barack Obama was sworn-in, I cautioned conservatives that no matter our disagreements with the new president we should still appreciate the historic moment. “Much of the joy I see in my black neighbors and friends seems to be a sense that a new level of respect, perhaps the greatest respect, has now...
John Young: Listen to the river, Mr. President
John Young: Listen to the river, Mr. President

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. He can be reached by email at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com. “The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too.” Herman Hesse’s line is about an actual mass of water droplets, but it certainly could apply to a stream of people — the one that flowed through the nation&rsquo...
More Stories