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19 Top-Rated Cocktail Books To Add To Your Bar

Mix up impressive cocktails at home with these bartender’s guides and mixology books.

Whether you are new to cocktails, or an experienced professional, there is always more to learn about making tasty alcoholic drinks. While many people may usually look up a cocktail recipe on the internet, there is nothing quite like opening up one of the best cocktail books to gain some cocktail knowledge. 

Beautiful view on glass with bright cocktail books.

Not only are cocktail books well thought out, but they are also easy to store at a bar, and make a great conversation piece.

But what exactly qualifies a book as a fantastic cocktail book? There are quite a few factors to consider when assessing a cocktail book in terms of quality. 

The best cocktail books provide fun and easy-to-follow recipes, and often they offer some context and history about the background of the cocktail.

Plus, great cocktail books often become popular and receive high ratings from readers.

Best Cocktail Books

Read on to learn about the fourteen top-rated cocktail books that you need to read. 


The Joy of Mixology

The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan is the ideal cocktail recipe book to add to your library if you want an intelligent accounting of several classic and modern cocktails.

While the recipes in this book are useful, a big benefit of the tome is how much it teaches about the history of cocktails. 

I love this cocktail book because it provides useful tips for remembering cocktail recipes, and it provides you with guidance for making your cocktails.

This book is perfect to have on hand if you are hosting a party and you want to be able to whip us some delicious cocktails. 


Cocktail Codex

This cookbook is ideal for experts and newbies alike: Cocktail Codex by Alex Day and Nick Fauchald.

Rather than forcing you to memorize countless recipes if you want to make cocktails for your friend, this book roots all of the cocktails in six simple recipes.

Those recipes, the old fashioned, sidecar, martini, daiquiri, whiskey highball, and flip make up the six types of cocktails. 

With this simple foundation, you can develop your knowledge about making cocktails. I learned so much about the fundamentals and art of making cocktails from this book.

Thanks to how concisely everything breaks down, I am confident in my ability to make simple adjustments so I can make simple but sophisticated cocktails. 


Imbibe!

Imbibe! By David Wondrich brings the history of American cocktails to life and provides delectable recipes.

It also talks about the life and legacy of Jerry Thomas, who is responsible for the American bar.

Before reading this book, I had never heard of this cultural icon, but now I always think of him when I enter a bar. 

The first edition of this book won the James Beard Award, and later editions provided even more information about cocktails and American history.

This book will give you more appreciation for the cocktails you know and love. Plus, the book will teach you some handy tricks for carrying on the American cocktail tradition. 


The Savoy Cocktail Book

Choose The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock if you love a classic.

This book, which describes the beloved cocktails of The Savoy hotel in London, was first published in 1930.

The author was one of the most prominent barmen of the 1920s and 1930s. Several classic recipes reside in the pages of this fascinating book.

I love getting a peek into history with this book almost as much as I love getting a taste of these perfectly balanced cocktails.

It is always fun to try a new drink or ingredient that may have lost some popularity since the early 20th century. 


Meehan’s Bartender Manual

Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan gives you a comprehensive look at the bar industry as we know it today.

While the book contains 100 recipes for cocktails, it also offers information about menu development, making spirits, laying out your bar, the art of hospitality, how to mix drinks, and more.

This book is also a James Beard Award winner. 

My favorite thing about this book is the details about why the author makes each cocktail. This information helps to flesh out why a drink works the way it does.

As a result, this book is a lovely option for the amateur bartender and the seasoned professional alike. 


Spirits of Latin America

As much as I appreciate the books on this list that provide broad strokes about cocktails and spirits, I also greatly enjoy diving deep into spirits in a specific region of the world.

That is where Ivy Mix’s Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture and Cocktails comes into play. 

As much as I always enjoy spirits from Latin America, gaining historical and cultural context makes me appreciate those spirits even more.

This book offers recipes for well-known cocktails, such as the Margarita and Mojito, and lesser-known cocktails like the Sonambula. 


Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails

If you need a Caribbean vacation at home, this book is the one you should pick up.

It offers great recipes and knowledge related to tiki drinks. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails will talk you through the background on rums, instructions on procedure, and information about juices and syrups. 

My favorite thing about this book is its ability to balance age-old knowledge about tropical cocktails with modern cocktail sensibilities.

It also has recipes from several modern tiki-cocktail experts. You may think that this cookbook will be for advanced cocktail makers only. Luckily, it offers instructions that everyone can follow to make tropical rum cocktails and more.


The Drunken Botanist

When we drink alcohol, it can be easy to forget where our beverage came from.

Luckily, The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart is here to teach you about the botanical origins of your favorite cocktail.

Thanks to the multidisciplinary approach in this book, you can learn about the science, etymology, and cultural history behind all sorts of alcohol.  

This book is a bit different from other options on this list since it offers you some instructions beyond drink mixing.

The Drunken Botanist also provides instructions on growing your cocktail ingredients. So, if you want, you can grow and drink your creations from scratch. 


The Essential Cocktail Book

The Essential Cocktail Book comes from the Editors of PUNCH, including Megan Krigbaum.

This book is a solid choice if you are looking for a simple book that will give you classic recipes and modern recipes.

It also offers some information on what you need to know about bar etiquette. 

This one is a book that I like to keep close to my bar, since I know I can grab and use it very quickly.

It offers comprehensive information about making essential and delicious cocktails while providing room to play with different ingredients.

Thanks to the number of recipes in this book, it is difficult to get bored.  


The Ultimate Bar Book

The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails by Mittie Hellmich is a James Beard-nominated book that provides a look into all kinds of cocktails.

This book includes classic and modern recipes, and information on basics, such as barware and technique. 

I have yet to try every recipe in this book thanks to the sheer length of it. However, I enjoyed everything I tried.

The classics are solidly conveyed, and modern advances are nicely laid out. I also love learning about cocktail elements like garnishes, infusions, and rims.

The illustrations in this book provide an explanation of which drinks you should serve with which glassware. 


The Dead Rabbit Mixology & Mayhem

The Dead Rabbit Mixology & Mayhem: The Story of John Morrissey and the World’s Best Cocktail Menu by Sean Muldoon describes cocktails from New York’s The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog.

It features the grocery’s graphic novel-inspired menu uniquely and fittingly. This book is ideal for those who have some experience with cocktails. 

I love this book because it offers amazing and unique cocktail recipes. While the recipes themselves are amazing, the story surrounding them makes you look at the recipes differently.

It helps you appreciate how much thought goes into the development of cocktail menus. 


The Ideal Bartender

The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bullock is another book from the earliest 20th century that holds up.

This thin book was originally published in 1917. It offers almost 200 recipes from the author, who was a very well-known bartender at the St. Louis Country Club. 

I love this book, both for the history it provides and the clever cocktail recipes. Some of the recipes are a bit more inscrutable than others, but that just adds to the fun.

It is also fascinating to see which ingredients are in these recipes. Some ingredients are no longer fashionable, but they are delicious to try.  


The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

Nominated for the 2022 James Beard Foundation Beverage with Recipes Award, The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig provides amazing knowledge about Japanese cocktails.

Urushido is the mixologist at New York’s Katana Kitten. This book explores Japanese cocktails in general, as well as the bar’s recipes specifically. 

I also found it fun to learn a bit about the mixologist’s history. The recipes in this book provide an amazing balance between upscale ingredients and casual and delicious cocktail-making.

This book is also ideal if you miss any cocktails that are no longer at Kata Kitten. The book likely contains those recipes. 


The New Craft Of The Cocktail

The New Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Master Mixologist by Dale DeGroff is the kind of book you want if you only want one book about cocktails.

It was originally published in 2002, and an updated version came out in 2020. 

This book has everything you need to know to become an expert on cocktails.

Beyond providing plenty of recipes, the book offers cocktail histories, tips, tricks, and liquor recommendations.

I love having this book as an all-purpose reference for everything bar-related. 


Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking

This book by Elva Ramirez makes it easier to entertain any non-drinking guests – and anyone who enjoys a tasty drink without alcohol!

Any of the drinks in this booze-free book prove that a nice cocktail doesn’t have to be reserved for individuals who consume alcohol.

These innovative recipes will make sure nobody is left out, with premium non-alcoholic mixes from the best bars across the world.


Road Soda

Finding a good drink on a plane might be tricky, but Road Soda has you covered for that and more. With the help of this book, you can have a great drinking experience wherever you go.

Kara Newman offers advice and recipes for making cocktails while you’re on the move, including how to deal with a hotel mini bar’s limited choices.

This book makes it easy to make cocktails on the go, or for those without a fully stocked bar, you can still make something tasty.


Gin & Tonic

It will be a hard sell to find a more quintessentially preppy drink than the infamous gin and tonic. 

Frédéric Du Bois and Isabel Boons explore which of the tonic brands goes best with which of the gin brands. The authors also explore which garnish is most suitable and explain the history of this classic cocktail.

They describe more than 60 gins and 20 different tonics in detail and offer their suggestions for recipe pairings and must-visit bars around the world.


The Martini Cocktail

Robert Simonson’s —a James Beard award recipient—first award-winning book is a classic in every cocktail lover’s library.

Naturally, his most recent award-winning book on martinis is a staple too.

In the Martini Cocktail book, you’d find 50 recipes, and a gem—the first martini recipe ever to be published. This recipe dates back to 1888, but the book will provide you with traditional variations as well as modern twists from famous bartenders.


The Aviary Cocktail Book

One of the most gorgeous cocktail books ever published is The Aviary Cocktail Book.

This book is breathtaking in terms of the amount of detail and technique that goes into developing and presenting drinks.

The brains behind the cocktail bar The Aviary have created this 440-page glossy book of recipes and procedures. The exquisite design of this 8-pound book merits a place on your coffee table, and it is a great present for cocktail fans.

Every page has color pictures paired with remarks by Nick Kokonas, the co-owner, and Micah Melton —the beverage director‘s recipes. 

It also features observations from Grant Achatz, the chef behind The Alinea and the Aviary. However, keep in mind that this book is more of a display than a recipe book.


Best Cocktail Books

  1. The Joy of Mixology
  2. Cocktail Codex
  3. Imbibe!
  4. The Savoy Cocktail Book
  5. Meehan’s Bartender Manual
  6. Spirits of Latin America
  7. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails
  8. The Drunken Botanist
  9. The Essential Cocktail Book
  10. The Bar Book
  11. The Dead Rabbit Mixology & Mayhem
  12. The Ideal Bartender
  13. The Japanese Art of the Cocktail
  14. The New Craft Of The Cocktail
  15. Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking
  16. Road Soda
  17. Gin & Tonic
  18. The Martini Cocktail
  19. The Aviary Cocktail Book

Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of cocktails you like, there is at least one book that will help you build your knowledge and recipe repertoire.

Some books evoke memories of classic cocktails through history, while others focus on a specific type of cocktail or area of the world. 

These cocktail books are the best around because they provide well-thought-out recipes and interesting historical context. These recipes are fantastic because they are easy for beginners to follow, and can be beneficial for expert bartenders.

So, the next time you are hosting a party, or you could simply use a cocktail, open one of these books and try out some new tricks. 

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.