The best books for cocktail lovers
The must-have books for cocktail lovers
Words— Kate Dingwall
The world of cocktail books has hit a fever-pitch: no longer are cocktail books simply relegated to recipes of classic cocktail. There are cocktail comic books and intellectual tomes on molecular cocktails. There are books dedicated to both day drinking and nightcaps. There are books dedicated entirely to Rose wine, and books encouraging drinkers to add a little leather to their Old Fashioned (no, really).
Safe to say, imbibing in this day and age isn’t boring. Whether you like your drinks boozy, stirred, and full of obscure ingredients, or if you prefer easy, breezy, no-brainer cocktails, there's a book out there for you. All of the below books make a case for skipping a night out and turning your home bar up a notch.
Just try and resist: this book is about cocktails and comics. That combination alone should sell The Dead Rabbit's newest book itself, but to provide more context, the narrative followers the protagonist, a half-man, half-rabbit, down a rabbit hole of mayhem in New York City (stopping along the way to sip a dram of whiskey or two). Follow him through the chaos, while learning how The Dead Rabbit, an award-winning cocktail bar, concocted their much-lauded drinks. The recipes aren't for green home bartenders (many methods require hard-to-come-by ingredients and syrups), but the book alone makes for a stellar read and a great addition to a home bar.
Dave Arnold's manual to the curious is not for the faint of heart. Described as a"deliciously potent science kit", Arnold thrives on play and experimentation. Think using hot rocks to heat drinks, nitrous espresso, carbonated negronis and heavy usage of centrifuges. While this seems like a call for attention, each treatment is meant to amplify the taste of the drinks. If you don't have a centrifuge on hand (as one may not), Arnold also preaches the school of home hacks; like how to make the perfect blended margarita using ice, a Ziploc bag, and a whole lot of rum.
Veteran bartender Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks is part coffee table book, part useful tome for spirits, cocktails, and perfectly executed cocktails. Host of the Speakeasy podcast, Teague is experienced at weaving narratives and injecting personality into his words, so this book is well worth sitting down and actually reading. In it, he jumps into his experience at the steer of many Manhattan stalwart bars, as well as winds through the history of all your favourite spirits (plus a few you've never heard of). The cocktails are stellar too - they range in difficulty, but run the gamut of everything from simple stirred drinks to uber-fluffy Ramos Gin Fizzes.
Writer Aaron Goldfarb's new book is not your average cocktail book. There are recipes, yes, but the real draw is how Goldfarb turns the world of whiskey on its head. With this guide in hand, Goldfarb will teach you to infuse bourbon with bacon, smoke Scotch with tea, book a game hen with nips of whiskey and infuse whiskey with vegetable leather. Wacky, yes, but strap in for a flavour rollercoaster like no other.
Though it was just released last year, Meehan's Bartender's Manual was build to be the be-all guide to bartending. It touches on the basics of opening a bar—how do you build the layout? How do you design a concept?— to insights and quotes from some of the most famed bartenders in the industry. The cocktail section is incredibly robust: it profiles the most lauded cocktails and provides not only the recipe but the origin, logic behind why the cocktail exists and hacks to crafting this cocktail at home.
You can easily argue that there's no better pairing to a good tune than a smooth drink, best served amongst friends. Booze and Vinyl go beyond that, pairing the canon of classic cocktails with 70 of the best records ever pressed. Sipping a Suffering Bastard while jamming to Johnny Cash, or an ice-cold martini to the tunes of Frank Sinatra is perfect pairings at their prime, and the addition of party planning notes inspired by each genre are the cherry on top.
A great cocktail doesn't need to be complicated. Six, seven-ingredient cocktails are all well and good, but if your bar cart lacks the fixing of a top-tier cocktail bar, The New York Times’ Robert Simonson breaks down that you can craft stellar cocktails with just three ingredients. This tiny book (bring it travelling!) lays out classic and more modern cocktails, all that require three or fewer ingredients.
Planning a party? Serving up craft cocktails is a sure-fire way to guarantee a good time, but as the host, shaking up cocktails can have you stuck in the kitchen all evening. The secret? Batch your cocktails ahead of time, so you can pour, sip, and relax. Maggie Hoffman's Batch Cocktails is filled to the brim with easy-to-prep, batch cocktails. Make them in advance, then enjoy the festivities. There are the traditional punches—in flavours like blood orange and matcha—as well as boozier sips with mezcal and rum.