Best Books to Learn Cocktail Making

Learn to make cocktails like a pro bartender

A collection of the best cocktail books will do wonders for your skill, whether you’re a seasoned bartender or love mixing a drink at home. Cocktail books are not your typical recipe books; they include everything from the history of making cocktails to easy-to-follow recipe instructions and beautiful coffee table volumes. 

There are publications devoted to the fundamentals of distillation, as well as a specific type of alcohol. Don’t know where to begin? Keep reading for the best cocktail books to teach you how to make the tastiest and most beautiful drinks, great for wowing your guests at your next get-together.

The Best Cocktail Books to Learn Mixology

There are many cocktail books, and it might seem a little daunting to select the best ones, which is what this list is for. The following are some of the best cocktail books new and old.

The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan

Gary Regan’s book is a masterpiece, and it is one of those masterpieces that will stand the test of time. It’s chock-full of ideas and insight that are mind-boggling to this day. Gary —or Gaz— Regan, the godfather of bartending, categorizes beverages into families in this book.

 The categories assist bartenders in remembering recipes and developing their own quickly. He wrote “The Joy of Mixology” in 2003, and it was revised in 2019. Gaz revolutionized the way we talk about cocktails in the modern day.

Bartender mixing colorful cocktails

The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock

The Savoy originally opened its American bar in 1889, and the hotel’s bar became a paradise for cocktail enthusiasts. The bar is still ranked No. 5 in the world today. Harry Craddock, author of “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” is one of its famous faces. In the 1920s, he worked at the bar and created several remarkable cocktails like Corpse Reviver No. 2.

This drink is “to be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are required”. Craddock’s book includes hundreds of recipes for martinis, fizzes, punches, and other mixed drinks. Many of these recipes can still be found on the most excellent cocktail menus today.

The 2013 edition is quite similar to the original from the 1930s, and it perfectly captures the ambiance of the time. The book is chock-full of pictures of Art Deco cocktails and famous bargoers from the 1920s. 

Bartender making alcoholic cocktail, summer cocktail in bar
Bartender making alcoholic summer cocktails in bar

The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Dale DeGroff, also known as the King of Cocktails, is regarded as a forerunner of modern cocktail-making. DeGroff’s influence in the business spans decades, which makes him the ideal candidate to write this. It’s a lesson on the world of cocktails. DeGroff presents a methodology, cocktail recipes, and a glossary of words to help readers understand drink terminology. 

The history of spirits and how they’re manufactured is the first chapter of this book. Despite this, “The Craft of the Cocktail” contains significantly more than just cocktail knowledge. It also provides a 360-degree view of the industry, along with amusing stories about industry figures for every bartender.

Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking by Elva Ramirez

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.

How to Cocktail by America’s Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen’s Team brings their philosophical perspective to the cocktail world with this educational cocktail book. Not only does it cover all of the essential cocktail skills you’ll need to make traditional and experimental drinks, but it also has tons of recipes for garnishes, syrups. It also contains many tips and tricks to improve your cocktail-making skills.

Road Soda by Kara Newman

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.

Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan

“Meehan’s Bartender Manual” is an essential book for anyone interested in opening a bar and running their own business. The book, written by Jim Meehan, a journalist, bartender, and founder of NYC’s Please Don’t Tell, covers themes including bar design, space planning, functionality, and creating cocktails. 

The spirits part of the book covers all kinds of liquors, how they’re made and where they can be found. The cocktail section takes readers through the history of each drink, the reason behind the drink, as well as 100 basic recipes, including the author’s favorites.

Throughout the book, Meehan solicits input from colleagues in the business, including fellow author David Wondrich, Don Lee of Existing Conditions, and Rasmus Lomborg of Havana Club.

Gin & Tonic by Frédéric Du Bois and Isabel Boons

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 tonics in detail and offer their suggestions for recipe pairings and must-visit bars around the world.

The Martini Cocktail by Robert Simonson

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.

Imbibe! by David Wondrich

This book is excellent for those interested in learning about the origins of many of the drinks we enjoy today. The first edition, released in 2007, won a James Beard Award for its in-depth look into Jerry Thomas’s life and craft, a mid-nineteenth-century bartender famous for popularizing cocktails. 

The book was recently updated, and it now includes new findings and a more extensive recipe collection. Imbibe! will provide you with a solid foundation of information on which to build future cocktail books, making them easier to comprehend.

Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, Devon Tarby, and David Kaplan

Death & Co. authors and mixologists Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, Devon Tarby, and David Kaplan teach cocktail-making in this James Beard Award-winning manual. The book shows readers six classic cocktails; the martini, sidecar, old-fashioned, daiquiri, flip, and whiskey highball. It also shows slight changes to these drinks, providing options for explorers that want to mix drinks at home and professional bartenders.

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart 

The Drunken Botanist, a New York Times best-selling book, offers a guide to the botanical basis of alcohol. From the agave that yields tequila to the rice that yields sake, Amy Stewart delves into the plants, fruits, flowers, and trees that go into making our favorite drinks. 

“The Drunken Botanist” teaches how spirits are manufactured, from raw material to end product. Stewart delves into distillation techniques, horticulture, economics, crop practices, and botany. It’s a combination of botany, mixology, and history. She writes in an entertaining style that guides readers through each spirit and liquor, providing simple cocktail recipes between stories. 

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

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.

Alchemy in a Glass by Greg Seider

In this book, Greg Seider provides over 50 recipes for cocktails, bitters, punches, tinctures, and spirit infusions, alongside lovely pictures by Noah Fecks. His explanation of creating a cocktail titled “Constructing the Cocktail,” including detailed directions on making a perfect drink, is particularly appealing.

The Cocktail Club by Maureen Christian-Petrosky

Maureen Christian-Petrosky, a cocktail and wine connoisseur, put together this guide on enjoying cocktails with a group. It’s a delightful read that’s broken down month-by-month, and it includes drink and food pairing recipes. According to Petrosky, “All you have to do is keep tasting to figure out what you like.” The book’s layout motivates you to get bust and try your hands at creating cocktails. 

The 12 Bottle Bar by David Solmonson & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, married writers and cocktail connoisseurs, began with an original concept. “Is it possible to make a comprehensive home bar using only 12 bottles?” They contend that it is possible in this book and provide recipes for making toddies, sours, Manhattans, and more with just their restricted supplies. There are quite a few surprises in this book, and each liquor gets a chapter to itself.

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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.