French 75 _lowres

 

“Gin: The Manual” by Dave Broom, Mitchell Beazley, $19.99, 224 pages, hardcover

People have plenty of excuses for raising a glass — or more — of spirits before Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10 brings a more sober note. They can celebrate Carnival season’s crescendo plus Super Bowl Sunday, and if that’s not enough, there’s Chinese New Year on Monday.

Those who favor their cocktails with gin might want to take a look at a new book by award-winning author and whisky expert Dave Broom. He has turned his attention to gin, its complexity and what he says is its second Golden Age.

In “Gin: The Manual,” Broom delves into gin’s history. He explains how juniper berries, used for thousands of years for an herbal remedy, and other ingredients came to be distilled into what we now know as gin. He also looks at the rise of cocktails, new gin styles, trends and production. The latter gives an idea of how difficult it is to make gin and how botanicals and essential oils impact the flavor.

“There is more to drinking gin than just sloshing in tonic,” he writes, noting that gin works with many mixers and in cocktails. To help the reader maximize enjoyment of drinking it, he explains how to taste gin and the differences among gins. He covers 120 gins — both new-style and old-style ones — and scores them on how they work in four different preparations: with tonic, with Sicilian lemonade, in a Negroni and in a Martini.

Lastly, Broom provides a selection of classic drink recipes. Among them is the Ramos Gin Fizz. Writing about the drink’s history, Broom says, “Where would the world be without New Orleans drinks? — infinitely poorer though probably slightly clearer-headed.”

“Gin: The Manual,” illustrated with color photographs throughout, is an interesting and well-researched book for the cocktail buff.

Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnierfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.