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The 13 Best Cocktail Books To Turn You Into A Pro Bartender
Whether you want to become a professional bartender or just impress your friends, making cocktails can be a lot of fun. Before you start working on your mixing skills you need all the right information and there’s no better place to start than with a good book.
We’ve found an incredible selection here that incorporates the history of cocktail making, some brilliant tips and techniques, along with a vast array of brilliant recipes. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on your journey to becoming a bartending master.
We’ve searched high and low to find the best cocktail books and landed on 13 options that we know you’re going to love. They’re all a little different so all you need to do is choose the one that best suits you. Let’s get started with the most famous cocktail book of them all.
1. The Joy of Mixology - Gary Regan
The Joy of Mixology is a revised and updated edition of Gary Regan’s brilliant 2003 book. Providing a variety of special cocktail recipes as well as a fascinating yet simple system of categorizing drinks, the original book influenced mixologists and bartenders in America so much so that it gained the moniker “the cocktail bible.”
This 352-page revised and updated edition greatly enriches the original. Amongst other things, it includes Regan’s deep insight on the cocktail revolution in the many years that had followed the printing of the first edition.
The recipe section is completely overhauled. Many of the original recipes get smart revisions that’ll put some zing to their taste, and many brand-new recipes are included with which you can wow your customers. It even comes with a great index and glossary that makes referencing easy. Overall, this is the perfect book for the wannabe pro bartender.
2. The Drunken Botanist - Amy Stewart
This 2013 book by Amy Stewart has the subtitle “The plants that create the world’s great drinks.” This amazing cocktail book looks at drinks using a horticultural lens. It takes you on an exciting journey through the origin of drinks and the plants from which they are made.
If you are a curious cocktail fan, this is the book for you, as it can help you unravel why your favorite drinks taste as they do.
It starts off with the classics such as sake comes from rice, scotch from barley, tequila from agave, bourbon from corn and rum from sugarcane. Then it explores a variety of spices, herbs, flowers, fruits, trees, and more that have been fermented and distilled to get alcohol over the centuries.
This 400-pages book will get you marveling at the ingenuity and even desperation of humans in their quest to get liquor. The Drunken Botanist finishes with growing tips for gardeners and over 50 cocktail recipes.
3. The Negroni: A Love Affair With a Classic Cocktail - Matt Hranek
This new book by Matt Hranek is everything that the title says. It is a passionate tribute to one of the world’s most popular cocktails, the Italian Negroni. The relatively short 160-page read includes a fine history of the classic Negroni to open the book, before delving into stories of some of the best Negroni bars the world over.
As everyone knows, making the classic Negroni requires gin, vermouth, and Campari in a 1:1:1 ratio. This simple sophistication balances bitter and sweet to make the Negroni the great cocktail that it is.
However, this book brings versatility into the Negroni recipe, offering different tweaks that lead to over 30 delicious variations and reinterpretations. With the Negroni regarded as a perfect aperitivo (pre-meal drink), this book comes complete with a list of the best snacks to enjoy with your Negroni variant.
4. I’m Just Here for the Drinks - Sother Teague
This is a book from a pro bartender and mixologist that teaches the art of mixing drinks to both pros and amateurs. Without boring you, the book gives you a brief history of some classics as well as lesser-known drinks. Then it offers over 100 recipes that include many straightforward recipes.
It arranges them by the spirit, making it easy to read. You also get tips to improve the drinks. With this 256-page book, not only do you learn special recipes, you learn to create your own. Interestingly, it’s not just the drinks that’ll make you love the book. Throughout, there are enjoyable anecdotes that’ll make you giggle.
5. The Craft of the Cocktail - Dale DeGroff
This is a comprehensive book that covers the entire breadth of cocktails. The subtitle says as much with “Everything you need to know to be a master bartender.” As the subtitle promises, the 583-page tome offers everything.
The start of the book briefly considers the history of spirits and the development of the mixed drink, then quickly moves to how to set up a bar, including choosing the right tools and ingredients as well as important techniques to master. The bulk of the book then goes to the 500 recipes it offers.
The Craft of the Cocktail has everything from beautiful colored photographs to rich underlying stories to interesting facts, and more. With directions for virtually every imaginable mixed drink, The Craft of the Cocktail is the original cookbook for cocktails.
6. Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Apertivo Cocktail - Talia Baiocchi
This 2016 book looks at the history and revival of the spritz cocktail. Spritz is a fine introduction to Italian culture. Making it requires simply adding Aperol, prosecco, and club soda in a wine glass.
The Italian cocktail does more than echo the beauty of simplicity. This book takes you into a journey to uncover the rich meaning of the spritz. It starts with tracing the origins before veering into the evolution of aperitivo in Italy.
It returns squarely to face the spritz. First, it discusses the drink’s revival around the world. Then it offers a variety of cocktail recipes which includes classics and exciting variations. Lastly, it offers recipes for snacks to take alongside the drink. If you like your spritz, this 176-page book is a must-have.
7. The Aviary Cocktail Book - Nick Kokonas
The Aviary Cocktail book is definitely one of the most beautiful books you’ll find. It has some of the best photographic shots you’ll see in any book, not just recipe books. From the spectacular pictures, you can tell that the drinks will be amazingly delicious. However, this amazing cocktail book is targeted at high-end lounges and bars. This is because it also provides recipes for very unique cocktails with required niche ingredients and very specialized equipment to make.
You’ll find many funny-sounding ingredients (like huckleberry and xantham gum) which are not easily accessible. You’ll find recipes requiring molecular gastronomy techniques which will require you to buy some equipment. However, the book has cocktail recipes for everyone, as it offers non-alcoholic drinks as well as a home beer brewing recipe.
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8. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails - Shannon Mustipher
Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails is a book for fans of the tropical cocktail Tiki. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cocktail whose sight gets people thirsty as quickly as Tiki does.
The cocktail is made from rum, with loads of tropical fruits and elaborate garnishes thrown in to color it up and layer it with flavor. There are avenues to make the Tiki even more colorful, fruitier, and more flavored. These avenues are what this book explores.
It offers over 90 original recipes for Tiki cocktails. True to the book’s name, the recipes are modern versions of classic Tiki drinks. It also gives techniques and tasting notes for each recipe. With fine recommendations of spirits to use, you’ll be able to create great Tiki cocktails at home.
9. The Ultimate Bar Book - Mittie Hellmich
The subtitle of the Ultimate Bar Book is “The Comprehensive Guide to over 1,000 cocktails,” which gives a hint at its depth. The book is loaded with everything you need to know. Offering recipes for 1,000 cocktails, this comprehensive guide gives you all the classics, as well as many creative new elixirs. You’ll find many creative variations for syrups, rims, garnishes, and infusions, as well as hot drinks and non-alcoholic drinks.
The guide is very detailed. It includes appropriate barware, tools, and mixing tips. There is even a section for hangover remedies. Plus, Mittie Hellmich is a renowned photographer. The recipes come with clearly illustrated photographs. With this book in your hand, you’re not going to need Google to mix a delicious drink.
The Ultimate Bar Book is a strong contender for the title of the bartender bible. If you love The Joy of Mixology, you’ll love this book too.
10. Liquid Intelligence - Dave Arnold
Being a food science writer and running a high-tech cocktail bar, Dave Arnold brings his two loves together in this book. This book takes bartending into the science lab. It takes a scientific approach to making drinks that look better and taste better.
If you think it is just the ingredients or the mixing that makes drinks great, you need this book. Liquid Intelligence looks at many other variables including the shape of ice cubes, the acidity of fruits, and more. To Arnold, measuring and tweaking these variables will enhance classic cocktails and help you create fantastic new creations.
Liquid Intelligence is a book that’ll give you many creative techniques to unearth the perfect cocktail drink. It also comes with thorough explanations of what each process does to the drink. The chapters on liquid nitrogen, gelatin washing, and applications of the centrifuge are particularly insightful and will take your bartending skills to whole new levels.
11. Cocktail Codex - Alex Day
This 2008 cocktail book was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by the Chicago Tribune. It’s easy to understand why. The Cocktail Codex provides a simple approach to mastering all cocktails.
How many cocktails are there? In the world of Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, there are only six cocktails. According to them, these six encompass all cocktails, and by learning them, you’ll be able to create any cocktail drink.
Unlike many cocktail books, Cocktail Codex does not go into cocktail history. Rather, it focuses on helping you understand the fundamentals. Learning the six root cocktails gives you the “why’s and how’s” of each family of cocktails.
With the information, you’ll understand why some cocktails work and why others do not. You’ll know techniques and ingredients to employ to take your cocktail game to another level. This 320-page read comes from the same team that authored the bestselling cocktail book Death & Co.
12. The Savoy Cocktail Book - Harry Craddock
This 2015 edition is a reprint of the 1930 book by Harry Craddock. While working in the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel (London) in 1920, Harry became the most famous bartender of the 1920s and 1930s. The Savoy Cocktail Book was simply Harry sharing his secrets with both aspiring and accomplished bartenders and mixologists.
There are many things to learn from the man. Know that Harry Craddock invented a number of classic cocktails including the very popular Corpse Reviver #2. The Savoy Cocktail Book gives you the timeless work of one of the very best mixologists ever. This reprint reproduces all drawings in the original edition.
This book gives recipes for all the classics but because the book is a reprint of a 1930 book, it does not have recipes for modern cocktails. However, you may find it insightful in comparing our understanding of terms with what used to be.
13. Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails - Robert Simonson
This book is about creating amazing cocktails from spirits that not much is known about. Traditionally, tequila was regarded as a drink for shots rather than for mixing.
Tequila and mezcal have enjoyed a turnaround in status and popularity but still remain behind many other spirits when mixing cocktails. This book aims to change that. It gives you over 60 recipes for agave cocktails. You’ll find many new ways to enjoy tequila and mezcal. If you are looking for what to do with tequila and mezcal beyond margaritas, this 176-page read is the book for you.
Like virtually all cocktail books, the book starts with a brief history. It charts the genealogy of tequila and mezcal drinks. Then it moves into the simple easy-to-do recipes. These come with beautiful photographs that show how amazing the cocktails can be.
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