A recent celebration of the newly re-opened MONO+MONO in the East Village – renowned for its signature ultra-crispy Korean fried chicken – introduced not only a new Soju-based cocktail menu but also 7 spirits-themed books ideal for upcoming holiday gift giving. If the people on your list love cocktails (and romance!), there’s something for everyone on it; and if flower-garnished drinks and classic jazz is your thing, MONO+MONO is definitely worth checking out.
Located on East 4th Street, the space at MONO+MONO seamlessly blends its flower shop entrance with Art Deco design elements of musical antiques and more modern semi-industrial elements, including the 15,000 vinyl records stored along its walls. The new Soju-based cocktails (Korea’s national spirit) are house-infused with a range of tantalizing fruits and herbs and aged over a period of 5-6 years. Created by M.J. Chung, these lower-proof cocktails prove that less is more – and that garnishes can be gorgeous, based on his study of traditional flower arrangement with one of Korea’s top pros. The double-friend chicken (in both soy garlic and spicy options) pair to perfection with the drinks, as does the new rotisserie chicken inspired by Samgye Tang, a traditional Korean soup. Modern tapas including garlic shrimp, grilled artichokes, kale + purslane and oysters round out the offerings, each of which would also pair well with the 7 books featured during the festivities designed with a variety of tastes in mind.
For the home bartenders and the pros.
No bookshelf or bar is complete without Gary “Gaz” Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology” (Clarkson Potter). Originally released in 2003, this updated edition features his celebrated system for organizing drinks, enabling you remember recipes and develop your own. Practice makes perfect, and this guide is the foundation to get you focused.
For the whisk(e)y enthusiasts.
Looking to get your geek on? Then Clay Risen’s “Single Malt Whisky” (Quercus) is your tome of taste. It includes information on the diversity, history and science behind malted whisky, plus a practical buying guide so you can relish a range of examples in traditional distilling. Meanwhile, home distillers can find some inspiration and innovation in Aaron Goldfarb’s “Hacking Whiskey” (Dovetail). It features ideas and timesaving techniques for experimenting with blending, fat washing, smoking and more, so you can practice your own art of mastering whiskey in the confines of your own home.
Photo by Moya McAllister
For the night owls.
Wine Enthusiast Spirits Editor Kara Newman takes the after-hours crowd into consideration in her latest collection with “Nightcap” (Chronicle Books). Whether you want to keep the party going, hit the hay, drink your dessert or calm your over-burdened belly (Side note: remember this for your post-Thanksgiving feast!), there is bound to be a cocktail recipe in here to cure what ails you – in fact, there are 40 to choose from.
For the lit lovers.
Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein and more. In 1920’s Paris, these artists defined the Lost Generation and ending up creating some of the most influential masterpieces of our time. “A Drinkable Feast” (TarcherPerigee), by Philip Greene, takes a look at the cocktails these cultural icons imbibed and imbues them with enough anecdotes, history and recipes to transport readers to their tantalizing table.
For those craving some comedic relief.
Not all nice guys finish last – some get the dream girl and a book deal, proving honesty (even the most brutal kind!) remains the best policy to pursue. “Mr. Nice Guy” (St. Martin’s Griffin), authored by husband and wife team Jason Feifer and Jen Miller, recounts the tale of their courtship as they pursue professional and personal success through some seriously hilarious truth telling. Turns out when you can really be real, working hard is well worth the reward – plus, some well-made drinks.
A born and bred New Yorker, Stef Schwalb's love of everything culinary knows no bounds. Her claim to fame? Her Jameson-infused, dark chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Fun facts! Stef was once a finalist in Dunkin' Donuts' Create Dunkin's Next Donut Contest, and she won a trip to New Zealand based on a 140-character Sauvignon Blanc tasting note Tweet. She is currently communications manager at Gregory White PR, where she writes about enticing food and wine experiences at wineries and wine regions across the globe.