Want to take your love of martinis and margaritas from the bar to your bar cart? If you want to give mixology a try, pick up a few cocktail books, read, practice, and repeat. Try a new cocktail every night or whenever a friend comes over (as if we needed a reason to play taste tester). Once you master all the recipes in your cocktail books, you'll be ready to concoct signature sips of your very own.
Go ahead, check out the best cocktail books, and get shakin'. Cheers!
The Craft Cocktail Party by Julie Reiner
Written by the co-owner of The Clover Club in Brooklyn and The Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan, "Craft Cocktail Party" is an inspiration for aspiring mixologists. This cocktail book is endlessly inspiring and downright delicious. Author Julie Reiner organized her recipes by seasonality and occasion, which will no doubt incentivize you to throw a party. She also shares insider tips such as how to batch your cocktails and the best substitution ingredients. Another perk? The images are absolutely dreamy.
American Bar by Charles Schumann
Want to take your cocktail knowledge to the next level? Check out Charles Schumann's tome. Even if you know the nuts and bolts of mixology, "American Bar" features 500 recipes, so you're bound to pick up something new. Schumann draws inspiration from his very own bars—like Harry's New York Bar—giving this cocktail book a mix master's seal of approval. From a classic amaretto sour to a tropical Flying Kangaroo—which features beachy ingredients like pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut cream— you're a few shakes away from being a cocktail connoisseur.
Vintage Cocktails by Laziz Hamani
Looking for a cocktail book that is equal parts pretty and practical? Laziz Hamani's "Vintage Cocktails" has beautiful photography, charming illustrations, and hand-written recipes. Since this option does a deep dive into classic drinks like the Dark ’n’ Stormy, French 75, and Singapore Sling, it's a great resource for libation rookies.
The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
Dale DeGroff is an unparalleled authority on cocktails, universally acknowledged as the world’s leading mixologist, and this is his manifesto. With 500 recipes, "The Craft of the Cocktail" covers tried-and-true classics, trendy originals, and everything in between, packaging them alongside a rich cocktail history, interesting anecdotes, and more. We'll drink to that!
The 12 Bottle Bar by David and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
As David and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson prove in this cocktail book, you don’t need a crazy-stocked bar to be able to make good drinks. Twelve bottles are a lot, more than the average person may have at home, but you can definitely acquire them over time. Once you have your delicious dozen, you’ll be set to make hundreds of drinks. And then it’s time to restock.
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
This New York Times best-seller really shook up the world of cocktail books with something we hadn’t seen before. Botanist Amy Stewart explores the science behind all the herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that are used to make our favorite spirits and cocktail accouterments. It’s a fascinating read for budding botanists and booze buffs alike.
Bitters by Brad Thomas Parson
At the risk of sounding dramatic, this book by Brad Thomas Parsons was groundbreaking. Unlike most cocktail books, this work focuses solely on the ever-so-important bitters, which are an integral part of many cocktails. In it, we learn about the Prohibition-era history of bitters, various uses for them, and, of course, plenty of drool-worthy, bitter-infused beverages to sip on.
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
Every genre has its string of classics, and the world of cocktail books is no exception. As one of the earliest cocktail reads around, this option is a must for anyone interested in mixology. "The Savoy Cocktail Book" gives you a great sense of cocktail history, drinks that can withstand the test of time, and the origin of some of your favorite beverages. Anyone with a sweet tooth will love the Angel's Tip cocktail, a concoction of fresh cream, and creme de cacao. Want to throw back a stiff one? Try the Aviation cocktail, which is a spirit-forward mix of dry gin, lemon juice, and maraschino.
The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan
After reading about so many “classics," it’s fun to learn about what all the cool kids are drinking these days. From the cocktail gurus who brought you the buzzworthy NYC speakeasy PDT (Please Don’t Tell), this option offers a behind-the-scenes look at running a popular bar—literally. Meehan's book actually boasts an illustrated diagram of the bar, showing readers where and how glasses, bottles, and other accessories should be stored. In addition to insider streets, "The PDT Cocktail Book" features trendy cocktail recipes—304 of them, to be exact. It’s a great reflection of the current cocktail renaissance.
Mrs. Lilien's Cocktail Swatch Book by Kelley Lilien
What's not to love about Mrs. Lilien? The design and blogging maven has reimagined the traditional cocktail tome into a fun swatch book that's compact enough to sit on top of your bar cart. Each page— or, well, swatch—features a recipe, complete with photographs of the ingredients and tools needed. Whether you want to start slow with a spiked lemonade or up the ante with a citrus-centric tequila granita, one thing's for sure: This is a must for any buddy bartender.
Imbibe! by David Wondrich
David Wondrich is a preeminent cocktail writer and historian, and this colorful record of classic drinks is his ultimate mixologist’s guide. With lots of historical details, he brings light to the origins of many of our favorite drinks, and of the cocktail itself.
Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold
For Dave Arnold, who won a James Beard award for his bartending chops, a great cocktail can be whittled down to a science. In fact, Arnold and his team pay close attention to small details like acidity, temperature, and carbonation to make a top-notch cocktail. With chapters on liquid nitrogen and the use of a centrifuge, Arnold applies the same scientific lens to his cocktail book.
Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle
Craving a cocktail and a great story? Feast your eyes—and, okay, your tastebuds—on Tim Federle's "Tequila Mockingbird." Federle paired each of the 65 featured cocktails with a classic piece of literature, ranging from "A Tale of Two Cities" to Stephen King's "Carrie," to "The Catcher in the Rye." After all, who wants a Bloody Mary when you can have a Bloody Carrie?
The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman
Calling all minimalists: This is the cocktail book for you. If the idea of several liquor bottles cluttering your bar cart causes you some serious stress, author Maggie Hoffman proves all you need is just one really good bottle of booze to keep you afloat. It's like "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" of cocktail books. Marie Kondo would be so proud.
The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich
There's a reason Mittie Hellmich's book is touted as the ultimate cocktail read around. With more than 1,000 recipes inside, this option is perfect for beginners and experts alike. Hellmich divides this book by spirit, so all you and your guests have to do is pick your poison. Overindulged on this book's hefty array of cocktails? Don't worry, Hellmich has a section dedicated to hangover remedies.