Fifteen years ago, when I was undergoing my course in hotel schooling in Calcutta, any assignment in food and beverage would send me scurrying to the British Council Library. Back then it was the one place in the city where I could lay my hands on the best books on the subject, and perhaps the most updated ones.
Cut to today: things are very different. Access to information is a lot easier thanks to smart phones with blazing internet speeds. Also, bartenders today spend more time researching their menus, topics and drinks than we did back in the day.
This means that there is always a need to put out good and updated content by writers, bartenders and drinks experts. So which are the ones you should perhaps look up the next time you need solid information? Here are my top five drinks websites:
This is my go-to website (www.diffordsguide.com) for all things drink. Be it recipes with correct specifications, history and a note on the drink profile, or booze categories, brands and even bartenders.
It is perhaps the most encyclopaedic collection of liquid data available in one place. Established in 2001 by Simon Difford, the guide is on the top of my list for the depth of research for the content put out, the way it is structured and the sheer amount of information available. Go check it out!
Most bartenders I know are great with anecdotal knowledge about the brands or categories of alcohol they work with, or cocktail history. But almost all of them fall flat on their faces when it comes to knowledge of wines. It is a vast topic that can take up an entire lifetime.
One can’t blame most bartenders in the country for running away from this topic, partly because of the way the subject is structured and taught in most hotel schools. But look no further if you want a one stop shop to increase your wine quotient.
Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette (www.winefolly.com) is undoubtedly one of the best online resources available. The language is easy to understand, the subject is excellently structured and uses a lot of infographics to explain the topics.
In fact for many sommeliers under training for their MS (Master Sommelier) courses, Wine Folly is a top read. Madeline’s second book, Wine Folly Magnum, was awarded the 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the beverage category.
The brain child of my all-time favourite authors and custodians of drink history, Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller, the EUVS digital library (www.euvslibrary.com) is a repository of historical bar books in digital format, one that allows you to click and read books that you like.
From the most well-known books like Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual and Jerry Thomas’s Bartender’s Guide to the little known Louis’ Mixed Drinks, the site has it all!
Jeffery Morgenthaler is undoubtedly one of the most influential bartenders in the world. His book, The Bar Book, is a keeper for anyone with a keen interest to tend a bar. His blog (www.jefferymorgenthaler.com) is a high quality, content-driven online resource which at its heart has the work of a seasoned professional with decades of experience. This should be on your list of blogs to bookmark.
Camper English’s blog (www.alcademics.com) is about cocktails, spirits, bars and bartenders. So what’s new, you may ask? And why do I recommend it? Simply because of the credentials of the guy and the amount of research he does on the simplest of bar techniques to better them.
His technique of ‘directional freezing’ to make clear ice and creating dehydrated liqueurs, are just two of the methods widely implemented by bars across the world. Camper is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and has traveled to over 140 distilleries in more than 25 countries. Doesn’t that explain why his work is so damn good?!
These are my pick of the top five websites or blogs that should be on every beverage professional’s bookmarks. There are many more equally good sites that you will find as delve deeper into these topics: www.imbibe.com, www.liquor.com, www.punch.com, www.vinepair.com – and don’t forget to log into www.tulleeho.com to keep a tab on what’s happening in India!