We’ve learned a lot over the last few years by reading books by great bartenders and writers in the cocktail industry. Below are a few of our favorites, with links to purchase each from Amazon.
The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique by Jeffrey Morgenthaler – An excellent resource for the home bartender, which some drink recipes but a lot of information on making things like syrups and other ingredients. For the more advanced home bartender.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh – A great collection of classic cocktail recipes, many of which are no longer considered “obscure.”
The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy by Jim Meehan of PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in NYC – A comprehensive list of cocktail recipes from one of the first new cocktail bars of this new cocktail era.
The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft by Gary “Gaz” Regan – This was our original cocktail bible when we started out. Still a great resource with a ton of recipes.
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons – For the more experienced home bartender, if you’re ready to tackle the challenge of making your own bitters at home, this book is essential. It is also a great resource with a bunch of excellent recipes. And he starts the book with a quote from the ’90s alternative band Pavement, and Scott is a huge fan of Pavement.
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki by Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate – Husband and wife owners of the bar by the same name in San Francisco, this book which was released in 2016 is a comprehensive guide to all things tiki. Essential for the tiki lover.
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day – I don’t know of a more comprehensive cocktail guide than this book. Death & Co. is a FANTASTIC cocktail bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and these guys have put together one helluva book. If you buy only one book in this list, or if you are starting out, start here. Tons of cocktail recipes, tons of info on setting up your home bar, tons of info on making various homemade ingredients, this is a great one. Granted, some of the recipes have obscure ingredients, but overall, the recipes are approachable for the home bartender.
Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar by David Wondrich – This is a great mix of cocktail history and drink recipes from one of the greatest cocktail writers alive today. We love the historical nature of cocktails and the interesting old stories, so we’re suckers for this one.
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel in London – Reprint of the 1930 version chocked full of great recipes.
The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa – Updated and re-released in 2016 from the original 1930s books by Albert Craddock The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, this version tweaks many of the original drinks and provides unique stories about many. We’re still diving into this one and have already made several great old, classic cocktails from its pages.
Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson – More a collection of cocktail and travel essays than pure bar book, this is a great romp through several years and countries of drinking with the drinks writer of the Washington Post. Each chapter ends with a round of drinks and a handful of recipes in each.
Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1862 Reprint: How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion – Reprint of the original 1862 version that started it all. If you want to go back to the original source, this is it.
Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur – Another classic from 1937 that has been reprinted, this contains several drinks home to New Orleans including the Vieux Carre, Pousse Cafe and the Ramos Gin Fizz.
Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal!: A Complete Guide from Agave to Zapotec by John “Mezcal PhD” McEvoy – If you’re into mezcal (and we are) this book has some terrific information on how and where mezcal is made, info on many of the small producers and an excellent list of mezcal cocktails.
New Mexico Cocktails (American Palate) by Greg Mays – Our friend Greg wrote The Book on drinking in New Mexico. He mixes in a history of the state with info on various categories of spirits, with original recipes in each chapter.
The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore by Robert Simonson – If you’re a fan of the Old Fashioned, this book is for you. Enlightening history on this cocktail and cocktails in general along with some fantastic Old Fashioned recipes, this is a nice little book from one of the drinks writers at the NY Times.
If you’re into home bartending, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about it. Imbibe is an indispensable resource for us, and we look forward to receiving our copy every month.
Chilled magazine is a little less thorough but has some good information nonetheless.