Best Cocktail Books in 2021, According to Professional Bartenders

Best Cocktail Books in 2021, According to Professional Bartenders

Anyone can make a tasty cocktail. You need to have some basic bartending skills. A crash course in bartending will help you dive deeper into the cocktail world at the bar, whether you are a professional or a home bar.

Beginning bartenders need to know several things. It is essential to be familiar with everyday ingredients and terms used in the best bars, cocktail recipes, and essential mixing techniques such as shaking, stirring, and muddling. Although it’s overwhelming, it’s not difficult to digest, and you can do it at your own pace. These are their top picks for the best cocktail books that will help you build your boozy library.

Best Books for Cocktail Making: Vintage and Modern Classics

best books about cocktail

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Best for Beginners

The Drunken Botanist, a New York Times bestseller, is a guide to botany. Amy Stewart, the author, explores the plants, flowers, and fruits that make our favorite spirits, liqueurs, from the rice grain that gives rise to sake to the agave, which turns into tequila.

The Drunken Botanist explains how spirits are made from grains to glass and raw materials to the final spirit. Stewart discusses distilling techniques, including how to grow, what economics is, and how to manage your crops. Part biology, part history, and part mixology, Stewart guides readers through each spirit using a humorous writing style that breaks up complex stories with easy-to-follow cocktail recipes.

The Drunken Botanist
  • Algonquin books

The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock

The Best Classic Cocktails Book

The American Bar was opened by London’s The Savoy in 1889. Since then, it has been a popular spot for cocktail enthusiasts. The bar is still ranked No. The bar is ranked No. 5 in the world. Harry Craddock, the author of “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” was one of its most famous characters. In the 1920s, he operated the bar. He created a variety of classic drinksincluding the Corpse Reviver. 2 (it should be consumed before 11 a.m. or whenever steam, energy, and are required), he said of the perfect drink.

Gaz Regan once called this book the “20th century’s most significant tome of its type.” Craddock includes hundreds of recipes for cocktails, including fizzes, martinis, punches, and other mixed drinks. Many of these recipes are still featured on today’s best cocktail menus.

The 2013 reproduction is a facsimile from the 1930s original. It captures the spirit of that era. This book features full-color illustrations of Art Deco cocktails as well as 1920s patrons at the bar.

The Savoy Cocktail Book Amazon here

The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan

Best books for cocktail lovers

Alex Day, co-owner of Death & Co and Proprietors LLC, believes Gary Regan’s “Joy of Mixology” is brilliant. The text quickly became a guide for modern bartenders after it was rediscovered. Day says, “It’s one of those brilliant works which are timeless in a way that many people aspire to but ultimately will not succeed through the history and evolution of making cocktails, including the methodology, spirit categories, and the classic recipes that have stood up to the test of time.” He also co-authored “Cocktail Codex” and adds, “It’s full of insights that blow me to the day.”

The beloved bartender godfather Gary “Gaz,” who categorizes drinks in families, “Joy of Mixology,” was published in 2003. It was updated in 2019. Day says Gaz changed the way we talk about cocktails. “Breaking down methodically, a means to understand them, demystify and then find your preferred flavors while letting his personality and nuances shine through. You won’t be able to stop laughing, I dare.

Day, who read the book for the first time as a barback at 22 years old, says, “It contributed greatly to my deep dive in the industry and was, without doubt, a foundation of inspiration [‘Cocktail Codex].”

Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan

Best Coffee Table Book

The Cocktail Codex is a new addition to the best cocktail book scene. Alex Day, Nick Fauchald wrote it, and David Kaplan from Death & Co. Ari Daskauskas is Nitecap’s head Bartender. He says the book is essential for bartenders (and cocktail enthusiasts) at all levels.

This guide is textbook-like and outlines six simple templates for creating cocktails. These include six classic cocktails books the Old Fashioned (Martini, Daiquiri), Sidecar, Whiskey Hiball, Sidecar, Sidecar, Whiskey Highball, Flip, Sidecar, Sidecar, Sidecar, Sidecar, Sidecar, Whiskey Highball, and Flip. Daskauskas relies on this book for his creative process. It is my No. He says that it is the No. 1 resource for us when we are developing our menus. “The templates in the book helped me to put my ideas into an exemptible format.

It goes a bit deeper into the theory of cocktail categories. They explain to the reader that there are essentially six categories of drinks based on six classic drinks. They then teach the reader how to make each of these classics and then follow up with lessons about modifying them. You can learn what makes the classics tremendous and how to start making your recipes. —Robert Kidd, head bartender at Le Cavalier at Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, DE


The Aviary Cocktail Book by Allen Hemberger, Micah Melton, Nick Kokonas, Grant Achatz

Best Gifts

 “The Aviary Cocktail Book” Daniel Thomas, bar manager at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, said that it is “the best book ever made.” This book is a masterpiece in terms of science, detail, and presentation.

These 440 pages of glossy recipes and techniques are the team behind the high-concept cocktail bar The Aviary, the great cocktail-focused sister to Alinea, which is three Michelin-starred. The book weighs 8 pounds and is a beautiful gift idea for cocktail lovers.

Each page contains full-page color photos, along with insight from Grant Achatz (the acclaimed chef behind The Aviary, Alinea), as well as words and recipes from beverage director Micah Melton, co-owner. This book is not a traditional recipe book but a showcase.

The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Best Cocktail Books for Your Home Bar

Dale DeGroff is the pioneer of modern cocktail culture. He is also known as King Cocktail. DeGroff has had a profound impact on the modern cocktail era. This makes him the ideal person to write “The Craft of the Cocktail,” a masterclass on the cocktail world. DeGroff covers techniques and more than 500 recipes in this book. He also provides a glossary to assist readers who are unfamiliar with drink terminology. All thoughts were derived from DeGroff’s experience behind the bar or his extensive library of vintage cocktails books.

The book begins with a brief history of spirits and how they are made. He covers everything you need to have a well-stocked bar, including key techniques and the community of cocktails. The Craft of the Cocktail offers more than just information about cocktail knowledge. The book also offers a 360-degree overview of the industry and charming stories about industry figures that every bartender should be aware of.

Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Best for Creatives 

Dave Arnold, NYC’s Existing Condition, rethinks classic cocktails by examining temperature, carbonation, and acidity in “Liquid Intelligence.”

The first section explains how to measure ingredients and gives Arnold’s opinions on all available tools and ingredients. The book’s meat is divided into two sections covering traditional cocktails and new techniques: the first discusses how to improve a traditional cocktail, while the second covers modern techniques like hot pokers and nitro muddling.

This book is sure to appeal to the science-minded, but Arnold also lays out simple (and sometimes not so simple!) cocktail recipes for drinkers of all levels.

Sum up: This book is the definitive guide to the science and art of the cocktail. Do you want to learn why cocktails work or don’t? This book is for you. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn the art of making drinks.

Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail
  • Liquid Intelligence The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail

Dale Degroff: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks

“King Cocktail” is known for being the first bartender to revive the art and vintage craft cocktails at Rainbow Room in the late ’90s. His two cocktail-related books on the subject are essential must-reads. They offer practical insight into the way bartenders approached the art of cocktail-making 15 years ago. The Craft of the Cocktail focuses on tools and techniques, while The Essential Cocktail dives straight into the recipes. It is divided by style (highballs, sours, classics, punches, innovations, etc.). Degroff’s work is simple and offers a perspective on the evolution of the cocktail scene since his inception. It’s been a long time since then.

“Imbibe!” by David Wondrich

Best Cocktail History Book

We asked Justin Lavenue (owner of The Roosevelt Room, one of Austin’s top cocktail bars), his favorite cocktail book. The book “Imbibe” is more like a novel and takes you back in time to when cocktails were still being discovered. This book is for you if you are a history buff who loves the food and beverage industry. It includes a vivid description of vintage spirits as well as Prohibition-era classics.

“Imbibe” is a coffee table book that also features neutral colors. It could also look great on an island bar cart. We also try to keep the period intact as our restaurant group includes eateries in different parts of New York. Fee Bakhtiar is the bar manager and general manager at JaJaJa Group, New York City, NY.

David Wondrich is a crucial figure in any conversation about spirits or cocktail books. David Wondrich is affectionately known as the Historical Oracle. He stays up late to research the history of cocktails and spirits.

This 2007 edition of the first book won a James Beard Award because it provides a rich insight into Jerry Thomas’ life and works. He is credited with creating popularizing cocktails in the mid-1800s.

Have you ever wondered where your favorite drinks came from? This book will be a great read.

I’m Just Here For the Drinks by Sother Teague

Best for Bartenders

Even though it was published only a few years ago, Sother Teague’s drinks compendium has become a classic. Teague’s knowledge comes from his many years of owning Amor y Amargo, as well as his extensive experience running bars. He was also awarded Wine Enthusiast Mixologist of Year in 2017.

Teague is a friendly, approachable bartender who can help you navigate a variety of spirits and cocktail recipes with ease. Teague’s original and rejigged classic recipes include milk punches, bucks, Rye Tais, and more. He often calls upon industry friends to share recipes and techniques.

This book will help you with helpful information, no matter if you have been bartending for years or are just starting.

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

Best History

Cocktail lovers know that many of the best classic recipes date back to hundreds of years—for example, the Sour and the Martini. Ted Haigh, also known as Dr. Cocktail delve deeper into the history of cocktails by handpicking 80 rare cocktail recipe, from the Brandy crusta to Alamagoozlum and the Fog Cutter.

He breaks down the recipes with historical facts and anecdotes and full-color vintage ads and illustrations. The fantastic recipes are well worth the effort, but you will also enjoy looking through the pages.

Although some ingredients can be challenging to find, the book covers gin and whiskey and brandy, Scotch, Scotch, brandy, and rye. It’s still an excellent book for all levels of drink makers.

Gin & Tonic by Frédéric Du Bois and Isabel Boons

It won’t be easy to find a more quintessentially preppy drink than the famous gin and tonic. Frederic Du Bois, Isabel Boons, and Isabel Boons discuss which tonic brand is best with which gin brands. They also discuss the history and best garnish for this classic cocktail. They provide detailed descriptions of more than 60 gins and 20 tonics and give suggestions for recipe pairings and bars worth visiting around the globe.

Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan

Best for Bar Owners

According to The Roosevelt Room’s Revenue, “Meehan’s Bartender Manual” is essential for anyone who wants to open a bar or run their own business. Jim Meehan is a bartender and journalist who also founded NYC’s Please Don’t Tell. The book covers topics like bar design, functionality, space planning, and building drinks rounds.

The spirit section covers all types of liquors and other liqueurs. It also includes information about how they were made and where they can be found. The cocktail section explains the history of every classic cocktail and provides 100 recipes, including Meehan’s favorite riffs.

Meehan also asks for advice from other industry leaders throughout the book, such as Existing Conditions’ Don Lee, Havana Club’s Rasmus Lomborg, and cocktail historian David Wondrich.

This is a personal favorite of mine and the first book I would suggest for a new bartender. It’s incredibly meticulous and thorough while being surprisingly approachable to newcomers. It goes through everything from building out a home bar or commercial bar to the intricacies of how different spirits are produced and the histories of some of your favorite cocktails. —Troy Ali


The Martini Cocktail by Robert Simonson

Robert Simonson’s James Beard Award-winning recipient, his first award-winning book on cocktails is a classic in any cocktail lover’s library. His most recent book, Martini Cocktails, is also a classic. The Martini Cocktail book contains 50 recipes and the first-ever published martini recipe. The original recipe is from 1888. However, the book offers both traditional and modern variations by famous bartenders.

Smugglers Cove by Martin Cate, Rebecca Cate

Best Tiki Cocktail Book

I love tiki cocktails.

It is possible to argue that they all taste the same, with that combination of citrus and rum and spicy falernum common amongst many.

However, we all sometimes need some escapism. A nice umbrella drink is a great way to get it.

Although Smugglers Cove may not be my favorite tiki bar (that honor goes to Hale Pele from Portland), it’s a great bar.

Their book? This is the only book you will ever need on tiki cocktails.

It not only goes deep into the history and origins of the tiki beverage but also has some of the best classics books you will find anywhere.

Our house is always pleased with their Hotel Nacional.

The New Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Dale DeGroff, King Cocktail’s bartender, wrote one of the earliest modern books on bartending. Dale DeGroff’s contributions to bridging the gap between dark times in adult beverages and the modern cocktail era cannot be overstated.

No one is more influential in New York’s cocktail revival than he. Many of us have been fortunate enough to learn directly from him or his many students. He’s also documented his place in history through this book.

There’s more to cocktails than ingredients: There’s as much recollection as recipe and as much tale as technique. This volume situates modern drinks and drinking culture in personal history. —Rob Krueger, master mixologist at The Loyal in New York City, NY

The Dead Rabbit Mixology & Mayhem by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, and Jillian Vose

This book shows how the top bars create some of the most creative cocktail menus in the world. This book is a must-read not only for bartenders but also serves as a beautiful book for coffee tables that anyone can enjoy.

Honestly, this book has been a massive source of inspiration for me. [It] really has been one of my favorite pick-ups. Bar goals. —Deke Dunne, head bartender and beverage director at Allegory in Washington, D.C.

Market-Fresh Mixology by Bridget Albert

Bridget is a mentor and teacher to many of the current rock stars in the industry. This book is a whimsical and fun way of making cocktails. Bridget Albert is a firm believer in the garden-to-glass approach to creating great cocktails.

A Spot at the Bar by Michael Madrusan and Zara Young

I think this has to be one of the most creative and playful approaches to a bar book I’ve read in a while. The Everleigh team collected recipes from their favorite cocktail bars worldwide and had them written out on napkins, dollar bills, and coasters which they then photographed and printed in the book. I think this book probably has the best recipes for classics and modern classics out there. —Troy Ali

The Bar-Tenders Guide, or How To Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas

It’s like going back in time by flipping through the original go-to cocktail book before Prohibition. It’s incredible how impressive and profound America’s cocktail choices were at that time. The book’s author, Jerry Thomas, America’s first celebrity bartender, compiles a variety of slings and cobblers. This includes drinks like the Mint Julep and Philadelphia Fish House Punch.

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You can learn the art of bartending from various books, whether you are a professional or an amateur, increasing sales and catching people taking alcohol from many bars. To get the best out of these drinks, make sure you use cheap recipes. These drinks make great conversation starters and shelf decorations for your next party.

Are there any cocktail recipe books you’re a fan of in your cocktail library? Drop me a line in the comments. I would love to hear all about them. Thanks for reading these best books to improve your cocktail-making skills!

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Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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