Two years ago, there were perhaps a handful of bars serving punch in the US; now, every city seems to have a few bars where the glittering bowls and dainty cups are an essential, especially this time of year. It's no surprise that the buzz about David Wondrich's Punch: the Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl (Perigee Books) was sped along by the resurgence in the communal drinking style he himself helped create, a sort of viscous circle. A true drink history, with recipes old and new and lots of charm, this one's a must.
Many bar folk write books; few bar owners have the time. Partners Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric seem to have time for every sort of venture, and in their book Speakeasy (10 Speed Press), they give some hard-won advice about cocktails and bar owning mixed in liberally to what is basically a handsome recipe book. Follow whatever advice they give.
Everything is a cocktail ingredient today; kombucha tea, for example, is popping up in Midwest bars. Before taking the endless varieties of tannic temptation, check out Culinary Tea by Boston tea sommelier Cynthia Gold. She clears up much of what's mysterious about tea, offers tea and tea food recipes, and also a large selection of tea cocktails — that part of the book was so well received that she's at work on a a sequel all about tea cocktails.
Finally, two Asian-themed entrants. Kazuo Uyeda is the creator of the "Hard Shake," the mixing technique he believes adds a certain texture to drinks as no other shake can. But his other advice — about service, glassware, utensils, everything about running a bar — is worth the price of Cocktail Techniques (Mud Puddle Books). And our friend Yuri Kato has done us a favor by coming up with sake, soju and Japanese whisky recipes in a slender volume that is as intriguing and sophisticated as she.