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50 COCKTAIL BOOKS EVERY BARTENDER MUST OWN
Curated by leading cocktail book authorities, these 50 books comprise the essential library for any professional bartender. Including both beautifully rendered facsimile reproductions of rare texts and the latest from contemporary mixologists, this collection of books brings together the distilled knowledge on American cocktails spanning over 150 years. And, they could be yours by clicking here.
HOW TO MIX DRINKS OR THE BON-VIVANT'S COMPANION
By most accounts the first recipe book for bartenders, this seminal work announced the arrival of the American craft of the cocktail. From house-made bitters to flair bartending with pyrotechnics, many modern movements owe a tribute to “The Professor” and his theatrical bartending style.
THE MODERN BARTENDER'S GUIDE
One reason The Modern Bartenders’ Guide continues to increase in value is that it is one of the very few that has directions, formulas or guidelines for the manufacture of imitation cordials, brandies, liquors, syrups, and more. Reminiscent of the old DuPont Chemical Co. motto: “Better living through chemistry.”
RECIPES OF AMERICAN AND OTHER ICED DRINKS
This book refers to “American Drinks,” as it was published in London, where the new style of combining spirits was still an exotic idea at the time. The illustrations alone speak to the burgeoning craft, depicting all sorts of new contraptions, both practical and Rube Goldberg-esque, expressly for the purpose of mixing the new-fangled drinks.
THE FLOWING BOWL
Even among the small circle of 19th-century bartenders, “The Only William” was an eccentric character. The inventiveness of William Schmidt, a German immigrant who plied his art in Chicago and New York, rivals that of any bartender of today, with drinks that include a dozen ingredients, many of them only now being rediscovered.
MIXICOLOGIST OR HOW TO FIX ALL KINDS OF FANCY DRINKS
Aside from its peculiar name, Mixicologist is admirable for the way in which it elevates the importance of the bartending profession, described by the author as “among the more elegant employments of life.” The book also marks the spread of cocktails beyond major cities and into the American heartland, as it hails from Cincinnati.
MODERN AMERICAN DRINKS: HOW TO MIX AND SERVE ALL KINDS OF CUPS AND DRINKS
GEORGE J. KAPPELER
Many vintage bar guides consist of regurgitated recipes or outright plagiarism, but as the man behind the bar at New York City’s Holland House, George Kappeler acquired a taste for the original. This volume contributed dozens of new recipes to a still modest cocktail lexicon while emphasizing the detail and precision that great drinks demand.
HARRY JOHNSON'S BARTENDER'S MANUAL
Harry Johnson long maintained that he wrote a bartending guide that predated Jerry Thomas’ of 1862. While none has ever been discovered, today Johnson could take certain pride in this contribution, a volume that nicely chronicles the recipes of the late-19th century while also offering insight on the business and profession of bartending from a dedicated craftsman.
WORLD'S DRINKS AND HOW TO MIX THEM
WILLIAM T. BOOTHBY
Even before the modern divide, East Coast and West Coast mixologists had their own circles and styles; “Cocktail” Bill Boothby was San Francisco’s answer to New York’s Jerry Thomas, with his own thoughtful and successful recipes. Originals of this book are exceedingly rare, in no small part because the plates for early editions were destroyed in the “great quake” of 1906.
Before the iPhone, bartenders relied on the pocket guide to fuel their creativity and provide a clandestine consultation when needed. Jacques Straub was probably the first to recognize the need for a convenient and comprehensive reference for the bounty of new cocktails, and started the genre of the pocket recipe guide with this handy volume that saw great popularity.
RECIPES FOR MIXED DRINKS
This rare book offers a final glimpse into the golden age of cocktails just before the advent of Prohibition. It includes many new and trendy ingredients just reaching American shores at the time. And, in addition to being a source of recipes for The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), it includes the first appearance of the Aviation cocktail, a classic with a devout following today.
COCKTAILS: HOW TO MIX THEM
Robert Vermeire, of London’s Embassy Club, is among the first to duly credit other bartenders for their creations, such as the Sidecar, which he says was “introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bartender of Buck’s Club.” The book is a great repository of recipes, printed while American cocktail creativity was suppressed by Prohibition.
BARFLIES & COCKTAILS
Every good bartender knows that it requires more than just tasty drinks for a bar to become an institution, and this book celebrates the cast of characters and guests that contributed to the legacy of Harry’s Bar. A delightful comical counterpart to author Harry McElhone’s more didactic recipe book, The ABCs of Mixing Drinks.
SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK
With its 750 recipes carefully curated by Harry Craddock, a New York City émigré who held court at The Savoy Hotel in London, this book includes the best hits of the Art Deco era, made even more palatable by the bold period graphics and Craddock’s imbibing advice. A vital collection of reliable recipes that set the modern standard for many cocktails.
OLD WALDORF ASTORIA BAR BOOK
In this volume, journalist and cultural observer Albert Stevens Crockett captures the powerful figures who rubbed elbows at The Waldorf before Prohibition, recounting politicians and businessmen and the staff that served them. Of special interest are the recipes of 491 “appealing appetizers and salutary potations,” including the story behind many.
ARTISTRY OF MIXING DRINKS
Frank Meier ran the bar at the Ritz in Paris, which remains an influential cocktail bar today under Colin Field. In this guide, Meier flexes his mixological muscle, especially through original drinks like the Bee’s Knees, while also demonstrating a good barman’s breadth of knowledge with dissertations on wine and horse racing.
THE CAFE ROYAL COCKTAIL BOOK
W. J. TARLING
Published by the UKBG, this book captures the cocktail zeitgeist of 1930s London, a boom time for cocktails fueled partly by the preceding years of U.S. Prohibition. Adventurous British bartenders contribute the best and most relevant drinks of their time, including early forays with vodka and tequila.
THE GENTLEMAN'S COMPANION VOLUME II. JIGGER, BEAKER AND GLASS: DRINKING AROUND THE WORLD
CHARLES HENRY BAKER
With his unmistakably opinionated voice and boundless sense of adventure, Charles H. Baker proved himself a bon vivant without equal. In this tale of his globetrotting bar crawl, he captures not just recipes for creative concoctions spanning several continents, but the people and places behind many of them.
THE STORK CLUB BAR BOOK
A writer and bon vivant, Lucius Beebe chronicled a full day of post-Prohibition era drinks at the Stork Club, including recommendations for morning, noon and night. While few in number, the well-documented recipes are the perfect punctuation for Beebe’s anecdotes and reminiscences of the club’s mostly famous drinking clientele.
TRADER VIC'S BARTENDER'S GUIDE
If the number of printings and original copies of this book remaining in circulation are any indication, Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) may have penned one of the Dream Library’s best sellers. With 1,500 recipes, this book transcends the tiki restaurant genre for which Vic remains best known, offering some sound advice on specific spirits and other aspects of bartending.
THE FINE ART OF MIXING DRINKS
While not a professional bartender, to call David Embury a serious hobbyist would be an understatement. Pedantic in every respect, Embury is a professor of cocktail culture, tinkering with ratios, proportions, additions and deletions to arrive at some very refined recipes for classics. Embury is the bar customer that you’d love to hate, but his knowledge wins you over in the end.
ESQUIRE HANDBOOK FOR HOSTS
Culled from the pages of Esquire magazine, this foray into home bartending includes 900 drink recipes along with advice for picking up women, being a sober host and scores of party games. At moments, however, the book is far ahead of its time, recognizing that well-rounded men crave advice on cookware, serving dishes and other domestic affairs.
TED SAUCIER'S BOTTOMS UP
While most recognized for its risqué illustrations of women by 12 leading artists, Bottoms Up is much more than kitsch. Across nearly 800 alphabetically organized recipes, Ted Saucier claims to reveal new drinks from The ‘21’ Club, St. Regis New York and Claridge’s of London, among others. To his credit, he cites the source of many of them, offering a vital record of drinks of the era.
In 1991, as martini culture was poised for revival and renovation, Germany’s Charles Schumann seemed to peer into the future and was compelled to issue this volume, a cautionary guide that sets in stone the classic recipes, devoid of tampering or tinkering—sort of a barometer of good taste. In his stoic style, he declares this guide more than ample, as he’s known to profess that you really don’t need more than 50 drinks.
CLASSIC COCKTAILS (CLASSIC DRINKS SERIES)
Aptly known as “maestro,” Salvatore Calabrese offers his list of definitive drinks in this stylish little volume, sprinkled with stories and anecdotes on great bartenders. Like the man himself, the introduction is inspirational in its eloquence and reverence for hospitality through cocktails.
STRAIGHT UP OR ON THE ROCKS: THE STORY OF THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL
Former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes offers a thoroughly entertaining and authoritative account of the evolution of the cocktail, from the colonial tavern to frozen blender drinks. This well-researched tale demonstrates the ways in which drinks are woven through the rich tapestry of American history and culture.
THE CRAFT OF THE COCKTAIL: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BE A MASTER BARTENDER, WITH 500 RECIPES
By reviving classic drinks mixed with fresh juice at New York City’s Rainbow Room in 1987, Dale DeGroff created a crucible for the contemporary cocktail renaissance. Through his generous tutelage, now shared in this book, DeGroff has inspired bartenders around the world in their pursuit of excellence and restored pride in the profession of bartending.
THE JOY OF MIXOLOGY
A bartender’s bartender, Gary Regan uses his encyclopedic knowledge to classify drinks into families in this volume, lending structure and clarity to a litany of cocktails. At the same time, he lays the groundwork for his philosophy of “mindful bartending,” which prizes hospitality and vigilance as much as good technique with a shaker.
MIXOLOGIST THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL
A thoughtfully edited collection of scholarly works; in this edition, eminent cocktail writers of our time explore subjects such as the genealogy of the Singapore Sling, the complexities of simple syrup and the rise and fall of the Martini. Mixologist is distinguished by its well-researched essays and never-before-published information.
While the original Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas tops our list, that book becomes yet more forthcoming when coupled with the insights of David Wondrich, who explores the man’s life, work and achievements in this James Beard Award–winning biography of America’s first celebrity bartender.
Even within the world of cocktail fandom there exist sub-genres, and Jeff Berry is the authority in the ever-expanding knowledge on tiki cocktails. His research into the category’s history, and its recipes, are shared in a scholarly way, yet without forfeiting the inherent fun that makes tiki a lifestyle among many fans.
Scott Beattie was among the first modern bartenders to embrace a distinctly West Coast aesthetic with his cocktails for Cyrus restaurant, in Sonoma, Calif., placing an emphasis on culinary techniques and the fresh and seasonal flavors of the region. The use of herbs, flowers and other hand-plucked ingredients make this a vital companion for a stroll through the farmers market.
ESSENTIAL BARTENDER'S GUIDE
A Microsoft software engineer guided by a true passion for cocktails, Robert Hess created the Drink Boy forum, one of the earliest online meeting places for like-minded mixers. His bartender’s manual is written for the newcomer, but its thoughtful observations on drink-making are equally essential for pros.
SETTING THE TABLE
This memoir and guide to business by Danny Meyer reveals many of the secrets that make his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants such enviable forces in the hospitality industry. In addressing important tasks such as hiring, managing customers and innovation, Meyer inspires and helps to advance personal skills that go beyond creating delicious drinks.
VINTAGE SPIRITS AND FORGOTTEN COCKTAILS
A self-proclaimed cocktail archaeologist, Ted Haigh takes a concise approach in his exploration of 100 cocktails, mostly forgotten rarities from vintage texts, along with 20 originals. While many of the drinks require elusive ingredients, Haigh’s fearlessness and determination in reviving them has contributed to the rediscovery of many such spirits and liqueurs.
Known for his fanatical attention to detail and for inventing the “hard shake” technique, legendary Japanese bartender Kazuo Uyeda is the cocktail equivalent of a master sushi chef and is an ideal ambassador for the country’s style. Translated from the original Japanese, this book provides a long-awaited window into the world most fastidious cocktail culture.
FIX THE PUMPS
Lest we forget just how exotic effervescent drinks and soda fountain creations once were, this book includes 450 inspiring recipes. Including the history of the soda fountain and forgotten soda drinks, this book is intended to revive the cult of carbonation, critical for highballs and other fizzy drinks.
Before the individual cocktail, punch was the center of any convivial gathering, and in his inimitable voice, coupled with extensive research, David Wondrich bolsters the trend of communal drinks and the booming punch revival, lending historical context to a practice that already makes great business sense.
JASON KOSMAS AND DUSHAN ZARIC
From their West Village hideaway Employees Only, these authors offer some of the most enlightened updates on classic cocktails. Ripped from the bar’s ever-changing menu, their recipes are successful contemporary interpretations of classics, including upscale spirits or seasonal flavors but always with due reverence for the original.
BITTERS: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF A CLASSIC CURE-ALL, WITH COCKTAILS, RECIPES, AND FORMULAS
BRAD THOMAS PARSONS
This is the authoritative guide to one of the original cocktail ingredients—bitters—from its creation as a cure-all, evolution to a flavoring, and resurgence behind the bar. Understanding and appreciating this potent ingredient is as critical today as it was to the first cocktail ever mixed.
MR. BOSTON OFFICIAL BARTENDER'S GUIDE
With the sting of Prohibition still front of mind, Mr. Boston’s Guide was among the first on the scene following Repeal. Many subsequent editions succeeded in making the book truly ubiquitous, the go-to guide for generations of bartenders. Today, it remains a standard-bearer and a handy gauge of the most popular contemporary drinks.
PDT COCKTAIL BOOK
A media darling and cocktail destination, PDT captured the imagination of New York at the height of the speakeasy trend. Here, Jim Meehan offers 304 cocktail recipes that helped make PDT great, along with tips on the bar design, tools and techniques that helped build an identity for the infamous watering hole.
THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL
Like a snapshot of a day in the life of mixing in America, this book is the result of Imbibe magazine’s request for a local cocktail from 50 celebrated bartenders across the United States. Arranged by territory, these recipes and their stories document how we are truly a nation of cocktail lovers, perhaps now more than ever.
The handbook of farm-to-shaker mixing, this cocktail guide looks at the prime culinary trends of locally sourced and homemade as they apply to the bar. Techniques for constructing liqueurs, syrups, purees and jams are critical jumping-off points for capturing more fresh-picked flavors in your cocktails.
TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FROM A TO Z
JARED BROWN AND ANASTATIA MILLER
Edited by entertaining drinks historians Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller, this collection of recipes celebrates 10 years of Tales of the Cocktail®, still the preeminent New Orleans cocktail event. Like the event itself, the book is a rollicking celebration of cocktail culture and history.
THE COCKTAIL LAB
When practiced by the first modern bartenders, the now commonplace actions of shaking and layering spirits probably seemed scientific and otherworldly. Here, 60 cocktails, many of them classics, get a modern makeover by borrowing techniques pioneered by the leading chefs of molecular gastronomy.
THE DRUNKEN BOTANIST
There is no better way to understand a spirit than by starting at its root—or seed or fruit or leaves. This best-seller, part chemistry and part gardening guide, reveals the ways in which mankind has created alcohol from various plants and how other plants lend diverse flavors to what would otherwise be a very bland bar.
USBG: MASTER ACCREDITATION PROGRAM
Since its appearance in 1948, the USBG has become the leading professional association of bartenders, uniting dedicated professionals in service to the traditions of the trade. This USBG Master Accreditation reference guide is designed for those preparing to sit the USBG Master Accreditation Spirits Professional Exam and the Advanced Bartender Exam, offering comprehensive knowledge on spirits, beer, wine and sake, as well as drink recipes.
In tackling the topic of vodka, Tony Abou-Ganim celebrates America’s most popular spirit while welcoming it back into the fold of serious mixology with his exploration of its history, lore and production. Gearing the book toward vodka lovers and those who serve them, with 58 brand reviews and tasting notes, Abou-Ganim helps us see the reigning king of spirits more clearly than ever.