British master of the modern cocktail Tony Conigliaro's The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes bills itself as "a guide to liquid flavor," and it is that. Included are recipes from the simple (a Kir Royale) to the incredibly complex (Conigliaro's famous riff on the Prairie Oyster, which includes an elBulli-style tomato "yolk" served on an oyster shell). Each is tagged with the year it originally appeared in Congiliaro's unnamed Colebrooke Row booze atelier, an explanation of its development, and a quick how-to.
But beyond the drinks, the book itself is a gorgeous object to behold. Conigliaro, an art school vet before he turned to cocktails, clearly put effort into making the book beautiful. From the old-school cover to the still-life photography by Addie Chinn that evokes 70s Gourmet (in a good way) to the pastel sketches of cocktail structure to the hefty, glossy paper, The Cocktail Lab is a book that will age gracefully on the shelf next to cocktail stunners of the past. Books this satisfying to hold and look through simply don't get printed enough anymore. The Cocktail Lab is out in the US on July 16 from Ten Speed (pre-order on Amazon).