Cocktail cookbooks are popular at local bookstores.

No matter where the Bookworm staff stashed their cocktail books over the holidays, readers found and bought them.

“We sold a ton of anything alcohol related,’’ manager Andrea Gunther said. “With younger people, cocktails are huge.’’

Craft beer books were the best-sellers at the Bookworm, but that’s not the case in many other parts of the country, where cocktails are king.

Yes, cocktails and wine are cutting into beer sales. According to the Beer Institute, the Wall Street Journal reported, drinkers chose beer just 49.7 percent of the time last year, down from 60.8 percent in the mid-’90s. Among 21- to 27-year-olds, the decline has been sharper.

That’s no surprise to David Kerr, the owner of The Tavern in downtown Omaha. Cocktails far outpace beer sales at his establishment.

He reads a lot to keep abreast of the current trends. His favorite cocktail book is “The Complete Cocktail Manual.’’

It’s a collaboration between Lou Bustamante and the United States Bartenders’ Guild, which is a trade organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening the professional development of bartenders throughout the country.

“A lot of the recipes, tips and tricks inside the book come from industry professionals,’’ he said.

That meets his criteria for what makes an excellent cocktail book: one that comes from a bar with a good reputation or a good mixologist.

Being from Scotland, anything with whisky from that country is a favorite, too.

But sometimes all it takes is a good title.

“ ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ has been a really good seller,’’ the Bookworm’s Gunther said, especially with book club patrons.

With its play on novels and recipes such as “Romeo and Julep’’ and “Vermouth the Bell Tolls,’’ the book by Tim Federle and its cocktails with a literary twist has proven to be a fun gift.

A cocktail book about a specific place or holiday may strike a chord. Or even one that covers the basics, such as “Drinks: A User’s Guide” by Adam McDowell.

“The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion” by Julie Reiner with Kaitlyn Goalen is popular because it offers the perfect drink for a special occasion such as Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve or even just a brunch. Color pictures, lots of details and uncomplicated recipes make it easy to use, although you may have to make a few unusual purchases.

One of Dr. Lauren Nicola’s favorites is “New Orleans Classic Cocktails” by Kit Wohl.

“I bought this book before making the journey down to New Orleans, so I was prepared,’’ she said. “Tells you not only drink recipes but the history behind them and where is the best place to get them if you were to go to New Orleans. For a cocktail lover, this is a great book.’’

Some cocktails to try:

Beast of Bourbon

Beast of Bourbon

Beast of Bourbon

½ cup fresh blackberries

½ lemon, cut into slices

2 ounces freshly squeezes lemon juice

2 ounces bourbon

½ ounces coconut syrup, recipe follows


Garnish: blackberry and lemon slice

Muddle all but 1 of the blackberries, all but 1 of the lemon slices, coconut syrup and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the bourbon and ice and shake for 10 seconds.

Strain the contents of the shaker into a martini glass, garnish with the remaining blackberry and lemon slice, and serve.

Coconut Syrup

Makes about 1 to 1¼ cup

1 cup filtered water

2 cups coconut sugar

One 1 pint mason jar

Place the water in a medium pot over medium high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Ad the coconut sugar and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 6 to 8 minutes (the mixture will reduce by 1/3). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for an hour. Once it has cooled, transfer the syrup to the jar, ensure the seal is airtight, and store in the refrigerator. (Can last up to 3 months)

“Clean Cocktails: Righteous Recipes for the Modern Mixologist” by Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli

* * *

The Last of the Mojitos

5 fresh blueberries, washed

3 small, fresh strawberries, washed

8 sprigs fresh mint, washed

½ ounce lemon juice

1 ounce agave nectar

1½ ounces light rum

1 (12-ounce) can club soda

Muddle the berries, mind, juice and nectar in a Collins glass. Add 2 handfuls ice and the rum, give it a good stir and top off with the club soda.

“Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist” by Tim Federle

* * *


Makes 1 cocktail

Sugar cube

Dash Peychauds’s bitters

3 ounces rye whiskey

½ ounce absinthe

Lemon curl, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, saturate the sugar cube with the bitters and crush. Add ice, the rye and absinthe and store. Strain the shaker into a chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish by twisting the lemon curl over the drink to release the oil then place in over the side of the glass.

“New Orleans Classic Cocktails” by Kit Wohl

* * *

Fahrenheit 151

Makes about 10 drinks

6 cups apple cider

1 cup cranberry juice

1 cup orange juice

1 cup pineapple juice

6 cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

8 ounces rum (like Bacardi 151)

Pour the ingredients, except the rum, into a crockpot. Warm for about one hour, or until heated through. Unplug the pot and add rum.

“Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist” by Tim Federle

* * *

Pimm’s Cup

Fill a tall, 12-ounce glass with ice and add 1¼ ounce of Pimm’s No. 1

Add 3 ounces of lemonade

Top off with 7Up

Garnish with cucumber

Andrea Gunther from NewOrleans.com

* * *

Rob Roy

2 ounces blended Scottish Whisky

1 ounce sweet vermouth

2 dashes aromatic bitters

1 Luxardo cherry to garnish (the brand of cheery is crucial)

“The Complete Cocktail Manual” by Lou Bustamante

* * * 

Auld Fashioned

2 ounces blended Scottish Whisky (Monkey Shoulder or something similar)

½ ounce simple syrup

2 dashes orange bitters

2 dashes aromatic bitters

Garnish with orange peel (peel it over the glass to capture oils from zest)

1 Luxardo cherry on top

David Kerr

Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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