The best vodka books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about vodka and why they recommend each book.

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Kachka

By Bonnie Frumkin Morales, Deena Prichep,

Book cover of Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking

Want a visual primer to all things Russian from the items found at the cured meat and fish counter to helpful phrases when grocery shopping? How about recipes for infused vodkas ranging from tarragon to cranberry and an entire chapter devoted to dishes wrapped in dough? Kachka is a cookbook that will not only teach you to cook Russian food, it will teach you how to eat, drink, and entertain like a Russian in a way that’s quirky, highly visual, and as fun as it is authoritative.


Who am I?

Felicia Campbell is a food writer, editor, and author of The Food of Oman: Stories and Recipes from the Gateway to Arabia, the first English-language cookbook on Omani cuisine. She earned her masters degree in culinary anthropology from New York University with a specialization in Middle Eastern foodways. She has lectured on Omani food and food in zones of conflict at the Smithsonian Institute, Leiden University, New York University, and Arizona State University. She is currently developing a documentary series about endangered cuisines around the world. 


I wrote...

The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

By Felicia Campbell,

Book cover of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia

What is my book about?

Featuring rustic Middle Eastern dishes infused with the flavors of East Africa, India, and Persia, The Food of Oman presents the delicious diversity of the Arabian Sultanate through 100 recipes, lush photography, and stories from the people behind the food in an immersive introduction to a fascinating, little-known corner of the world. It is the first and only book to offer a modern and historical perspective on the food and culture of Oman and the Arabian Gulf.

Downtown

By Michael Musto,

Book cover of Downtown

Once again, personal history meets drink history with this book about nightclubbing in New York’s Greenwich Village during the 1980s. Musto escorts readers through the hotspots that made Manhattan’s nightlife tingle and zing. Fuelled on vodka, vodka, and a side of whiskey and beer, Musto races through the Cat Club, Area, Limelight, Max’s Kansas City, Mudd Club, CBGB’s, Indochine, and other hideouts that kept the pre-cocktail revival night culture alive and kicking. 


Who am I?

I’ve been researching and writing with my co-author husband Jared Brown about spirits and mixed drinks for three decades. After writing more than three dozen books plus hundreds of articles about the history and origins of alcoholic beverages, you could say I am addicted to the topic in a big way. While we’ve travelled and tasted drinks around the world we’ve also amassed a few thousand books on the subject. It’s served as a launch point of our secondary careers as drinks consultants and master distillers for global spirits brands. I'm currently finishing my doctoral thesis on early-modern English brewing at the University of Bristol to put a feather on the cap of my long career.


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Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Book Two

By Anistatia R. Miller, Jared McDaniel Brown,

Book cover of Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Book Two

What is my book about?

The second volume of an award-winning two-part history, Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Volume 2 revisits and revises much of what is generally known about spirits and mixed drink history, covering the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. A few surprises include the earliest known use of the word “cocktail” in a London newspaper in 1798; the Tom & Jerry was not named after or invented by Jerry Thomas; and the true stories behind the origins of both the Bloody Mary and Bloody Cesar. Spirituous Journey reminds readers that the world of spirits and drinks is more than just a shake, stir, or throw. There's pride in a rich history, too.

The Bloody Mary

By Brian Bartels,

Book cover of The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic, with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond

Ending as I began, on the lighter side of things, I think that The Bloody Mary makes for an interesting single subject cocktail book as one can find. From its convoluted origins to its over-the-top renditions, the bloody mary is one of the very few recipes that have been consistently enjoyed from the Prohibition era throughout the 20th century and onward to today. Most proponents of the drink all claim to make the best one, so understanding the nuances of something as fun and all-encompassing as this brunch-time favorite, is bound to keep conversations going. And if nothing else, if you’re going to begin a drinker’s library, you may as well start with the one that’s the first drink of the day. 


Who am I?

I was raised in a ‘hospitality forward’ household to say the least. My parents always had family and friends over the house eating and drinking and although no one was in the food and beverage industry, most of the folks all had something to say about food and beverage. It was a fundamental part of the conversation. It carried over to me and became something that I focused on even before I was ever in the service industry. With experience, I became more knowledgeable, and my tastes became wider and a bit more refined, but the seeds were planted long ago.


I wrote...

The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

By Frank Caiafa,

Book cover of The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

What is my book about?

Frank Caiafa—bar manager of the legendary Peacock Alley bar in the Waldorf Astoria—stirs in recipes, history, and how-to while serving up a heady mix of the world's greatest cocktails. Learn to easily prepare pre-Prohibition classics such as the original Manhattan, or daiquiris just as Hemingway preferred them. Caiafa also introduces his own award-winning creations, including the Cole Porter, an enhanced whiskey sour named for the famous Waldorf resident.

Each recipe features tips and variations along with notes on the drink's history, so you can master the basics, then get adventurous--and impress fellow drinkers with fascinating cocktail trivia. The book also provides advice on setting up your home bar and scaling up your favorite recipe for a party.


Beautiful Bad

By Annie Ward,

Book cover of Beautiful Bad

This book is rich in detail and tells the story of Maddie who is a travel writer who meets her future husband, Ian, while abroad. From the beginning during a 911 call, it’s obvious that something has gone badly wrong. This is a wonderfully written book, set in the Balkans, Iraq, and Kansas, to name a few places, and is full of tension. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 


Who am I?

I worked as long-haul cabin crew for many years and I love travelling. I’ve really missed being able to travel (as many have too) and I dream of the places I’ll be able to visit again soon. The Ex-Husband was the book I wrote in lockdown so I loved being able to ‘escape’ to the sunny Caribbean. I had fond memories of a trip to Barbados, so the book is mostly set there. I also travelled a lot as a child and one of my first memories is of being on a plane.


I wrote...

The Ex-Husband

By Karen Hamilton,

Book cover of The Ex-Husband

What is my book about?

Charlotte has an unsavoury past, but she’s on the straight and narrow these days. She was so young then – she married the wrong man, falling for Sam’s sweet-talking charm and charisma, and got caught up in his con artist games. Now Sam is missing. But before he disappeared, he left urgent, cryptic messages about someone threatening him – someone who has been threatening Charlotte too.

So Charlotte takes a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party aboard a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella, to get far away from anyone who means her harm. But as the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations, increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman,

Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I adore a book that manages to be more than one thing at a time, and the way this novel blends the sweetness and charm of awkward humans trying (and failing) to connect, with a mordant, sharp humor, and a backstory that makes you catch your breath is a kind of sorcery. Eleanor Oliphant as a person is not at all fine, actually, but as a character is brilliantly memorable.


Who am I?

I’ve always loved stories about the anti-heroines–messy, brash women who do things in print that I would never dream of doing in real life. I’ve tried to honor the difficult women in my own books, by showing that a heroine’s flaws do not have to be adorable to carry a narrative. My first career was as a reporter for small-town newspapers, during which time I enjoyed confounding my sources who underestimated a petite, baby-faced young woman. Journalism may have been an awkward fit at times for a person raised to be a nice girl (a literal Girl Scout) but it certainly gave me opportunities to practice being an unapologetic woman!


I wrote...

Vivian In Red

By Kristina Riggle,

Book cover of Vivian In Red

What is my book about?

Vivian is a magnetic woman from the past of Milo Short, a famous Broadway producer who thought he had buried her story and memory. But one day, he has a vision of Vivian–impossibly young and beautiful, when she should have been elderly or dead–and the sight fells him on the spot with an apparent stroke. Robbed of his voice by the stroke, the vision of Vivian haunts him while his granddaughter digs for the truth about what he did, and what she meant to him. Vivian Adair was supposed to be polite and demure, supposed to be just an assistant, supposed to respect cultural divides, yet she refuses to be anyone but purely her mercurial, passionate self.

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