The 5 Essential Cocktail Books

The 5 Essential Cocktail Books

While it may seem daunting when you're getting started the wave of cocktail and bar books published over the last ten years is greatly responsible for the resurgence of craft cocktails. Whether your work behind the bar, mix drinks at the house or just want to know more about the craft these are the must-have bar books.            


By David Wondrich

#1 Imbibe


The book that helped launch the cocktail resurgence Dave Wondrich's 'Imbibe' chronicles the life and recipes of Jerry (The Professor) Thomas. The book is essential reading and will bring the reader insight into how drinks were mixed in the pre-prohibition era.  Wondrich is the guru of cocktail lore and Imbibe will give you the history and recipes you'll need to understand how to mix a drink.  Resist the urge to buy a bow tie and suspenders after reading and you'll be well on your way. 




By Jeffrey Morgenthaler

#2 The Bar Book


Jeffery Morgenthaler bar manager of the reputable 'Clyde Common' in Portland Oregon made an excellent addition to the bounty of cocktail books with this technique-driven manual. Rather than focusing exclusively on cocktail recipes Morgenthaler instead chose to share the essential elements of cocktail technique. From basic cocktail builds to more practical advice on prep and execution, this was a bar book that needed to be written. After reading any bartender will have a solid foundation in how to execute almost any drink. I really can't recommend this one enough for anyone wanting to get started in mixing drinks. 


By Jim Meehan, Chris Gall

#3 PDT


Released in 2011 I still turn to this book for advice and inspiration. The book is the culmination of Jim Meehan's work at the game-changing PDT bar in New York City. While "Imbibe" will give you a feel for how drinks were mixed a century ago PDT is the bible for modern drink builds. Equal parts classic cocktails and PDT originals this recipe driven book is still utilized at cocktail bars across the world.






By Brad Thomas Parsons

#4 Bitters


Brad Thomas Parsons'  "Bitters" was an essential part of the cocktail boom. The book not only goes over history and recipes of the "bartenders salt & pepper" it has a great selection of cocktail recipes from classics to more modern cocktails. This book is solely responsible for the bitters boom across the cocktail industry. Whether you plan on making your own bitters or not this one is a great addition to any cocktail library. 




By David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, Alex day

#5 Death & Co.

I would recommend making your way through the earlier text before attempting this one. Death & Co. in NYC is one of the top cocktail bars in the world and this book gives insight into how they do it. This one has it all from amazing cocktail recipes, history, and tons of advice on how to think about creating and balancing a drink. No other book on this list will give you a better feel for what it's like to actually work in the industry. 


There you have it, I'll cap this one off by saying that this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bar reading. There are new books coming out every week and the industry is constantly shifting and growing. Collecting these has become a bit of an obsession for me and I think anyone who seriously wants to mix needs to read up.


*If you're interested in any of the books feel free to click the links to purchase on Amazon. 

Three Hour Absinthe & the Power of Hypothetical Distillation

Three Hour Absinthe & the Power of Hypothetical Distillation

The Daiquiri

The Daiquiri