The new World Atlas of Wine is a true magnum opus.  (photo courtesy of the publisher)

The famed James Beard Foundation Awards gala was among the notable casualties in the food and drink world this spring; it was slated to take over—we mean, take place in—Chicago in late May, but has been postponed until September 25. 

However, the JBF Media Awards were announced yesterday via press release, recognizing excellence in food writing, books, and broadcast media. There were two winners of particular interest to the intrepid cocktail and wine lover.

Little surprise in the “Beverage without Recipes” category: Authors Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson were winners for their much-anticipated The World Atlas of Wine, 8th Edition (October 2019, Mitchell Beazley, $65). This absorbing, internationally lauded reference guide, a tour-de-force compendium of maps of the major (and many obscure) wine regions in the world, also gives detailed descriptions of terroir, topography, production, and top producers. First published in 1971, the 8th Edition of this monument weighs in with 416 pages and 20 new maps, with updated text reflecting the changes in most wine regions since the first edition published nearly 50 years ago.   

Additionally, with little fanfare, Jancis Robison was also named as the 2020 entrant into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.

The winner of the “Beverages with Recipes” category was The NoMad Cocktail Book (October 2019, Ten Speed Press, $30). New Yorkers know that the NoMad Hotel—what Forbes called “New York’s most magical hotel”–is one of the best cocktail spots in the city. Authored by Leo Robitschek, beverage director for both Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad, this cocktail book shows beginners and experts alike how to approximate the style, techniques, and results from a beverage program named the James Beard Foundation’s Best in 2014. Throughout, stylish illustrations illuminate recipes for cocktails you’ll only find sitting in a chair at the hotel’s famed Elephant Bar.

After the announcement, several judges including Philadelphia Enquirer food editor Jamila Robinson and author John Kessler noted that, despite the damage to the industry, the entire food world will benefit from trends we’re seeing with everyone in isolation.

“We are all becoming more vulnerable,” Robinson said, referring to the now-common practice of posting food and cocktail photos on social media—even epic failures. Kessler noted that these channels promote an “intimacy” which connects everyone together as they reveal how real people live. 

Indeed, it’s often been pleasant to get more intimate, kitchen-sink glimpses of the real people behind the world’s best food, wine, and craft cocktails—though the sooner they are employed, back behind actual bars, the better.