2014 has seen a tidal wave of books covering the mighty fine topic of Gin. There is now a gin book to suit all interests with everything from coffee table classics, condensed afternoon reads to more in-depth tomes. Here are five of the best to give you a dash of ginspiration ahead of Christmas…
This is one of our favourite books on alcohol in general here at Gin Foundry. Alcohol has always had a close relationship with botanicals and none other than our main interest, Gin. This book takes it one step further than merely listing what goes into making spirits. The beautifully designed pages are filled with face-grinning anecdotes, fascinating facts and useful titbits for any drinks enthusiast.
The Drunken Botanist explores the botanical history and chemistry of over 150 plants, trees, flowers and fruits. The first part covers the classic alcohol-friendly plants (agave, barley, corn, grapes, potatoes, rice, rye, sugarcane and wheat): the history of their cultivation, explanations of the distilling processes and a few cocktail recipes. Stewart’s passion for horticulture is apparent throughout and in part two, she covers the signature botanicals that lend their unique flavours to spirits bottles: from herbs, spices, flowers, trees to fruits, nuts and seeds.
This teamed with brilliantly written punchy paragraphs makes this a thoroughly enjoyable read, many times over. This book is the perfect gift for people who like to throw cocktail parties and a great way to discover the history and science behind your beloved spirits.
Lesley Jacobs Solmonson’s ‘Gin, A Global History’ offers a concise summary that doesn’t scrimp on details and compact enough to carry on your commute. Her story brings readers through gin’s history at a blistering pace beginning with gin’s dubious medicinal origins through to Genever, the Gin Craze, Gin Palaces, London Dry and onto its modern day renaissance.
Having read almost every book written about Gin and we have found few able to tell the tale in a way that engages us with as much finesse as Solmonson’s whilst also keeping the story abridged and succinct. It’s not perfect nor as complete a story as with other, longer and more specific tomes. However, if you’re looking for an enjoyable and easy-to-read introduction to the history of gin as a whole – ‘Gin, A Global History’ is probably the best place to start.
One of the unique facts of this book is the images, prints and old advertising posters throughout. Very few books have any of of them so to have them all in one place is a treat for those (like us) who like that sort thing. The back of the book is a bonus too, where you can find cocktail suggestions, an gin appendix and a select bibliography that inspires further reading.
In ‘The Spirit of Gin’ author Matt Teacher shares his unique American perspective on Gin, with a large proportion of American gin brands explored along with extensive sections on Prohibition. The book also covers a short history of gin, the art and craft of distillation, historic gin cocktails, popular gin bars and the wider topics surrounding gin including tonic, syrup, bitters, garnishes, bartender toolkits and a catalogue of gin distillers.
The Spirit of Gin goes further than just recounting history and mere descriptions, it includes instructions on how to discover more information off the book’s pages. Given most books on the subject of Gin have been UK centric or based on the spirit’s history (be it in London or beforehand in Europe), the sharp focus on the modern gin revival and innovative American craft-gin distillers makes Teacher’s book both unique and worth seeking out.
Furthermore, the design of this gin book makes it fit for even the most discerning of coffee book collectors. With carefully designed pages that depict everything from the cultural and historical to advertising and branding, it is a feast for the eyes.
The Spirit of Gin is an entertaining and highly enjoyable summary of both Gin and gin based cocktails and with its intricate design and illustrations makes for a fantastic gift for gin lovers.
Olivia Williams leads readers through a brief history of gin, the underbelly of the Gin Craze, Mother’s Ruin, Gin Palaces, Hogarth and Dickens. The story detours through the Empire (with a G&T in hand), to the emergence of cocktail bars in the West End and is brought up-to-date with the resurgence of the category in recent years.
Gin, Glorious Gin is quirky and informative. Whilst ‘from grime to grandeur’ may be the message she presents, Williams delves into the spirit with passion and poise.
For those who have read other books about the juniper based spirit, from Richard Barnett’s “The Dedalus Book of Gin” or Jessica Warner’s “Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason” – Gin, Glorious Gin doesn’t really cover new territory that is unique to the book. That said, it is effortlessly digestible and a thoroughly enjoyable read, possibly more so than the others. It’s a fantastic book for those who are looking for a holistic view, with more than just an intro into the category but without getting bogged down with mountains of historical trivia either.
This book is everything it says on the cover; an encyclopaedic compendium that contains all you need to know about Gin.
With a more generalised overview on the category, there is no other book to date that has provided such an overview on cocktails, the history of gin and an in-depth look into a range of distilleries as brilliantly as Diffordsguide to Gin.
The result is a very precise and informative hardback, detailed but never dull. It’s a must-read for people who are interested in Gin.
Each chapter is broken-up with double page-spreads of enlarged quotes from well-respected names within the industry. The book ends with a catalogue of over 175 gin brands that includes essential information, detailed reviews and tasting notes by Simon Difford himself.
Elegantly designed with block colours and a modern typeface, the book is reminiscent of a contemporary magazine inside which has been upgraded to a more permanent keepsake. Genuinely, if there is one book that is a cut above the rest when it comes to an “overall” Gin book – this is it.
All of these books are now available on the Gin Foundry Shop should you feel like reading a little more offline. Most are also available on Amazon and other global retailers too!
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