Our new series, Reasons to Travel Now, highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day. Today, three spirits-centric books provide boozy inspiration for your next trip.
If you’ve ever hauled a bottle of Genever home from Amsterdam or flown to Scotland in pursuit of a choice single-malt, you’ll want to read these upcoming releases about some of our favorite spirits and the regions where they were born.
Here’s a primer on three new boozy books, plus recommendations from the authors for how to enjoy these spirits on location and at home.
“Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico with 40 Cocktails”
Artist Ron Cooper founded Del Maguey Mezcal as a way to import small-batch mezcals from single village distillers while supporting traditional Zapotec production methods. This book, co-authored by spirits writer Chantal Martineau, is packed with essays, photographs, and recipes for mixing Mexico’s smokiest agave spirit. June 12; Ten Speed Press.
Travel for mezcal: Oaxaca is to mezcal as Jalisco is to tequila. Cooper suggests pairing a glass from the lengthy mezcal list at Oaxaca city's Marco Polo with wood-fired fish dishes like butterflied red snapper. For a postprandial flight, stop by the Del Maguey Tasting Room in the Centro Histórico.
Get it at home: As a stand-in for gin in a negroni, Cooper loves using Del Maguey Vida ($34) — an organic single-village mezcal that’s an accessible intro to this spirit.
Pre-order: amazon.com, $30
“Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit”
In his new book, journalist Brian Ashcraft digs into the short but colorful history of the Japanese liquor and the process that differentiates Japan’s labels from their Western cousins. Plus, whisky authority Yuji Kawasaki shares tasting notes for more than a hundred bottles. May 29; Tuttle Publishing.
Travel for Japanese whisky: Ashcraft suggests heading to Osaka Prefecture, the birthplace of Japanese whisky. Start with a tour of Suntory Yamazaki, Japan's first distillery, which was founded in 1924 by a spirits importer and a chemist fresh from studying abroad in Scotland. Afterwards, pop in to one of the city’s hundreds of tiny, lovingly curated whisky bars, like One Shot Bar Keith or Bar, K.
Get it at home: Japanese whisky is some of the best in the world, with prices to match. Ashcraft suggests Hibiki Japanese Harmony ($70) to get the most bang for your buck.
Pre-order: amazon.com, $18
“The New Rum: A Modern Guide to the Spirit of the Americas”
Spirits writer and historian Bryce T. Bauer follows the rum trail from Barbados to Brazil — and even to the Netherlands — in this forthcoming book, which examines the drink’s stormy colonial past and its recent resurgence from the purgatory of faux-Polynesian cocktails. June 5; Countryman Press.
Travel for rum: For Bauer, Jamaica is the best place to experience rum culture. Try the tours at Nassau Valley’s Appleton Estate, run by pioneering master blender Joy Spence, and Hampden Estate, one of the country’s oldest sugar plantations.
Get it at home: Bauer recommends Mount Gay XO ($43). It’s an easy sipping rum that balances fruity notes with an underlying oaky character.
Pre-order: amazon.com, $26