Time to up your bartending skills: 5 essential cocktail books to reveal your inner mixologist

World Best Bar

Apr 17, 2020

Time to up your bartending skills: 5 essential cocktail books to reveal your inner mixologist
Whether you’re looking to hone your drink-making skills or just curious to learn more about the fascinating world of cocktails, these 5 must-reads will teach you everything you need to know.

1. Cocktail Codex : Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions

Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan


From the team behind iconic craft cocktail bar Death & Co, this James Beard Award-winning book is based on a simple premise: there are only 6 cocktails. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of these “root” recipes – the Old Fashioned, Martini, Daiquiri, Sidecar, Whiskey Highball, and Flip – and their variations, you’ll understand why some cocktails just work (and why others don’t), when to shake or stir, what you can use as replacements if you’re missing ingredients, and what you can invent if you want to try something new.

2. Meehan’s Bartender Manual

Jim Meehan


This deep dive into the ins and outs of the modern bar industry by star mixologist Jim Meehan covers everything from the history of cocktails and bartending to menu development, service and bar design. You’ll also learn about spirits production, drink mixing techniques, and the tools you need to create a well-stocked bar. The book includes 100 cocktail recipes, including some originals from Meehan himself, and thoughtful input from more than 50 great contributors to global cocktail culture. Without a doubt, this 500-page opus is the definitive modern guide to drink making.

3. The 12 Bottle Bar

David Solmonson & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson


Cocktail lovers and husband and wife David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson really wanted to recreate the delicious cocktails they enjoyed at their local bar, but didn’t want to stock up on rare ingredients and expensive liquors they’d barely use. After much experimentation, they finally found a way to make hundreds of cocktails from only twelve bottles: eight bottles of hard liquor, two vermouths, and two bitters. If you were thinking of taking up cocktail-making but didn’t know where to start, look no further. This book includes suggestions for bottles in every budget, useful tips and fun anecdotes, and more than 200 cocktail recipes organized by spirit and flavor.

4. Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

David Wondrich


In this colorful tribute to Jerry Thomas, the father of American mixology, cocktail writer and historian David Woodrich takes us on a time journey to discover the history of classic American drinks. The book reveals never-before-published details and stories about this bigger than life figure of the nineteenth century, along with historic recipes for more than 100 punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, and more. 

5. The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

Jeffrey Morgenthaler


If you’ve got the ingredients covered and want to perfect your technique, get your hands on this book. The only technique-driven cocktail book out there, this essential guide will teach you all you need to know to build the best drinks in town. Through over 60 recipes illustrated with step-by-step photographs, you’ll finally master the proper techniques to juice, stir, shake, garnish and more, allowing you to achieve show-stopping cocktails every single time.

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