Whether you’re new to mixing drinks and looking to start with the classics, need a refresher or seeking drink inspiration, cocktail books are an invaluable source of information. We’ve put together a collection of the 10 best cocktail books for the home bartender, with tomes we refer to time and time again.
This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small compensation without any additional cost to you if you make a purchase using the links.
10 Best Cocktail Books for the Home Bartender:
1. Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1862 Reprint: How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion
It pays to start at the beginning with the very first published cocktail book. The 1862 is the first version of the tome known as How to Mix Drinks. If you’re after the origins of some of the cocktails you know well and you’d like to discover some obscure recipes, this book is one for time travel and reference.
2. The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
If you’re a fan of classic cocktails, this cocktail book makes essential reading. The author, Harry Craddock was an American bartender who left the US to work at London’s Savoy Hotel. The book was originally published in 1930 and features many classics as well as cocktails he was credited with creating such as the Corpse Reviver #2 and supposedly the dry Martini. This is one cocktail book that the home bartender and cocktail enthusiast will refer to for inspiration.
3. Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
Once you’ve mastered the classics, and you’re seeking inspiration to create your own, it’s time to delve into Death & Co’s Modern Classic Cocktails. The book is authored by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day of the highly influential Death & Co bar in New York. In our review of Death & Co cocktail book, we called it an inspiring go-to reference book on craft cocktails. Some of the spirits may be a little unusual or difficult to source but it will inspire you to start creating.
4. The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
Not a cocktail book per se, but The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit is a reference book on flavour you’d want to have on hand. What pairs with white chocolate? What goes well with cardamom? The book is an alphabetical listing of around 100 popular ingredients with suggestions of flavour matchings.
5. Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons
Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas is everything you want to know about the world of the bittersweet liqueur category. Highly informative, it covers everything from popular brands to lesser known amari along with cocktail recipes.
6. The Book of Vermouth by Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus
The duo behind Maidenii vermouth, bartender Shaun Byrne and winemaker Gilles Lapalus have combined their expertise in a book dedicated to vermouth. From detailing the history of vermouth around the world, the grape varieties and the regulations, to offering practical information on How to Drink it, there are over 100 cocktail recipes that make The Book of Vermouth an essential tome for bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts and home bartenders.
7. Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day
As we’ve said in our review of Cocktail Codex, the authors state that there are only six cocktails, namely the Old Fashioned, the Martini, the Daiquiri, the Sidecar, the Whisky Highball and the Flip; the rest being modifications on these templates. For anyone looking to expand their cocktail repertoire and create their own signature drinks, the book is an invaluable resource and reference book.
8. Smuggler’s Cove by Martin and Rebecca Cate
Penned by founders and owners of Smuggler’s Cove Tiki bar, the book covers the story and rise of Tiki culture, from its beginnings as escapism to modern day Tiki revival with over 100 exotic cocktail recipes to take your taste buds on holidays.
9. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
If you’re into edible gardening, you’d love this book. If you’re not, it may even convert you. Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist is a wealth of knowledge about plants and how they can be used in drinks and spirits. The book is easy to to use as a reference guide and does not read like a dry botany book.
10. The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails by Mittie Hellmich
On occasions where you simply want to make a drink and can’t remember the specs, The Ultimate Bar Book is a user friendly and comprehensive guide to over 1,000 cocktails including classics, variations and new drinks.