Spike your summer reading list | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Spike your summer reading list

Summer offers a chance to kick back and catch up on some reading.

Whether lounging by the pool or killing time at the airport, summer offers a chance to kick back and catch up on reading. Here are a few new boozy books to consider.

Drinking Distilled: A User’s Manual by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

For years, Jeffrey Morgenthaler has run an excellent website for bartenders, where he sporadically posts about everything from barrel-aged cocktails to the best shoes for behind the bar. In 2014, he condensed all of that knowledge into The Bar Book, a handy overview of key techniques for successful cocktailing. His latest book, Drinking Distilled: A User’s Manual, comes at alcohol from the other side. As the name suggests, Drinking Distilled focuses less on making drinks and more on consuming them, covering topics such as bar etiquette, the perfect drink for any occasion, and what drinking “rules” ought to be broken. Morgenthaler’s style is light and breezy, great for the campground or the beach. And don’t worry — he writes of the perfect drinks for both.

Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion by Drew Lazor and the editors of PUNCH

You’ve likely heard “session” applied to beer, perhaps used to describe a low-alcohol IPA that can be glugged back-to-back in a single session. According to Drew Lazor and the crew at PUNCH (a top-notch online drinks magazine), the term also extends to cocktails. Unlike many classic concoctions, which often contain several ounces of full-strength spirits, drinks in Session Cocktails dial back the booze without sacrificing taste. Leaning on flavorful but lower-proof ingredients like sherry, vermouth, sparkling wine and herbal liqueurs, some of the world’s best bartenders offer refreshing recipes that will keep you upright through the long summer days.

Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine by Jason Wilson

For his 2010 book Boozehound, Jason Wilson told of rare treasures of the spirits world and penned one of the most entertaining travelogues I’ve ever read. Now, the self-described “booze columnist” is back at it with Godforsaken Grapes, which applies the same concept to the world of wine. With his delightfully irreverent style, Wilson champions “weird wines” — obscure varietals that, though less familiar than cabernet and pinot grigio, still deserve our attention. And while you might struggle to find a bottle of Alpine himbertscha in your local liquor store, the book is an entertaining, eye-opening nudge to stray off the beaten path the next time you pop a bottle.