Imbibe! by David Wondrich

Wondrich’s engaging, staggeringly well-researched book Imbibe! does double duty, detailing the rise of “Professor” Jerry Thomas, the colorful innovator and impresario who helped create America’s cocktail culture in the late 19th century, as well as describing, in loving detail, the archival cocktails of the era. This is first book about spirits to win a prestigious James Beard Award, previously given only to cookbooks. $18 from Amazon.