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By Sophie McComas, ContributorISSUE #038 FOR THE JOY OF READING & WRITING | Education

Our Top Ten Spirits Books

The Science of Booze. Girly Drinks. A Good Drink. Drunk. This is not, dear fellow readers, a random word salad (cocktail?) but book titles from our essential reading list for all our spirit aficionados out there. We’ve pulled the following 10 titles together to celebrate our partnership with Booktopia, and they’re all guaranteed thirst-quenching reads.

Before you get stuck in, might we offer you a drink? Craft a literary mood that lingers with our latest special edition sip, The Writers Gin. Conceived together with Michael Williams, the editor of The Monthly magazine, Evi.O Studio and Australian independent bookstore, Booktopia — it’s available online now for a limited time only.

1.The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Kicking off with an essential, the New York Times–Bestselling Guide to Botany and Booze, The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. An exploration of the weird and wonderful lengths humankind has gone to, to transform just about every herb, flower, tree, fruit, and fungi under the sun into alcohol over the centuries.

2.Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis by Kingsley Amis

A compilation of three books, written first as columns between 1971 and 1984, Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis delivers practical know-how, rules and boundaries of a truly good drink with wry humour in place of dry instructions. One for those keen to learn and to enjoy the process!

3. Meehan's Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan

Meet acclaimed mixologist, Jim Meehan's magnum opus. An exhaustive list is ticked off here: the history of cocktails and bartending, service, hospitality, menu development, bar design, spirits production, drink mixing techniques, and all the tools you'll need to create a well-stocked bar. Phew! To summarise, this is a one-stop companion for any lover of the craft.

4. Girly Drinks by Mallory O'Meara

Historically illuminating, with laugh-out-loud footnotes and narrative energy, this is an education in spirits like no other. Mallory O’Meara’s Girly Drinks illustrates the untold history of the female distillers, drinkers and brewers who have helped to shape the evolution of alcohol to this day.

5. On Booze, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who penned Champagne and cocktail-fuelled The Great Gatsby, treats alcohol and drinking almost as its own character in almost every single work he produced. This collection of all his best boozy stories, including unpublished excerpts from diaries and notebooks, will not only pass on a hankering for a stiff Julep, but it’ll make you want to dance like they did in the Jazz Age.

6. Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers

Want to feel smarter than everyone else at the bar/dinner party/Archie Rose Distillery Tour? This one’s for you. Adam Rogers’ Proof is a fascinating, science-steeped deep dive into all things drink, from distilling and deriving to serving and sipping. Every page turned is another trivia question in the bag!

7. Drunk by Edward Slingerland

Why do we humans love to drink? Drunk by Edward Slingerland deep dives into the earliest origins of sauced civilisations through history, entailing several alcohol-fuelled adventures from the Vikings to fruit flies. Slingerhand investigates the theory that some of the most major advancements in our history are, actually, thanks to this deep love of one of the oldest indulgences - fermented grain and grapes.

8. A Good Drink: In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits by Shanna Farrell

Oral historian and San Francisco-based bartender, Shanna Farrel loves a good drink — especially those that do good. In A Good Drink, Farrell goes in search of the bars, distillers, and farmers who are driving a transformation to more sustainable spirits.

9. Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske

Sasha Petraske opened Milk & Honey, a speakeasy cocktail bar in New York, in 2000. Today, it’s remembered as one of the world’s most influential bars and has solidified him as a true visionary and legendary bartender. So! When we found out the man had released a cocktail recipe book, we added it to our collection instantly, and so should you.