Happy Hours: The Penguin Book of Cocktails, Bhaichand Patel, Penguin,

Rs. 499.

Barrister Bhaichand Patel draws on his hours behind the bar as a bartender to put together this heady array of cocktails that opens up a whole new range of possibilities for the tipplers while engaging the teetotaller. In fact, he has thrown in some mocktails for teetotallers; convinced as he is that innovative blends of various beverages and garnishes make a more interesting drink to nurse than say a non-alcoholic beer.

Given that social drinking is picking up in India, this book could be a godsend for those who need to entertain but don’t know where to start. Patel gets down to the basics; right from the essentials for a bar, the kind of glasses that go best with different drinks, how to measure, shake, stir or blend a drink… Besides listing over 600 cocktail recipes, Patel throws in briefs on the origins of each alcohol, scans the Indian market to rate the brands available here, lists the dos and don’ts, and provides tips on how to choose wine in view of the Indian market just opening up. For good measure, he throws in a chapter on local brews including bhang and toddy and some hangover cures; thereby turning this book into yet another essential for a well-stocked bar.

Sangh liturgyBy Anita Joshua

India Battles to Win, Tarun Vijay, Rupa,

Rs. 495

Curiously, the brief introduction of Tarun Vijay on the jacket of his book India Battles to Win makes no mention of his stint as editor of Panchajanya — the weekly magazine of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Wonder why or is it a candid admission on the part of the author and publisher that this linkage could affect sales of the book given that India has demonstrated its preference for `secularism’, a word the RSS is allergic to.

Admittedly, Vijay acknowledges his Sangh links in the acknowledgements but that’s a section most people ignore unless the author is a celebrity. Be that as it may, the book is a reiteration of the RSS line; viewing everything that has happened in India through the prism of religion and lamenting the inability of Hindus to think and act as one collective against the wrongs that have been done to the majority community in the name of secularism.

For anyone familiar with literature that has come out of the saffron stables, this book repeats the litany of complaints against the Indian State which is seen as soft on terror because it is yet to hang Afzal Guru, an accused in the Parliament attack case; appeases minorities while going after Hindu godmen and women; celebrates M.F. Husain just because he denigrates goddesses…

Lyrics with a life of their ownBy Anita Joshua

100 Lyrics, Gulzar (translated by Sunjoy Shekhar), Penguin, Rs. 499.

100 Lyrics, Gulzar’s collection of songs in translation, shows him penning something — seemingly poetry — with the Oscar he bagged for his song “Jai Ho”s in the film “Slumdog Millionaire” on his side. Surely, the Oscar — he’s the first Indian lyricist to ever bag one — is not his only claim to fame. His lyrics — be it the maiden “Mora gora ang lai le”, “Musafir hoon yaaro”, “Humne dekhi hain un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo” or “Naam gum jayega” — still play on radio programmes decades after they were first heard while the Oscar-winning number seems to have dropped off the charts.

This is the first time Gulzar’s come out with a compilation of his lyrics and poetry; having religiously kept them separate. His curiosity piqued by Sting’s observation in his book of lyrics that music and lyrics are dependent on each other, Gulzar “undressed” his lyrics to find that they survived on their own and in some cases took the form of poetry.

Translated into English by Sunjoy Shekhar, this bilingual venture could prove a delight for all those who like to sing these evergreen numbers but fumble for the words. And, to lend it wider appeal, Gulzar has thrown in some anecdotes related to the making of some of the songs; switching in his meanderings from English to Hindi to Urdu with equal ease.