In the ever-expanding world of cocktails, even a gentleman can use a good book for inspiration and guidance. In this article, we give you 11 book recommendations for the best cocktail books so you can easily find your perfect match – or the perfect gift for someone who deserves a great cocktail…or three hundred.
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Welcome to The World of Cocktails
The world of cocktails is a fantastic place for newcomers as well as mixology experts (and everything in between). With classic cocktails that have been around for centuries and brand new recipes with modern twists, there’s something for everybody. And regardless of your preference, a good cocktail book is a great way to get inspiration, be reminded about old favorites, and learn something new. With this gentlemen’s guide to the best cocktails books, we give you 11 recommendations including all of our favorites. Check out the list below for tips from some of the world’s best bartenders, find out how James Bond likes his drinks, and learn all about traditional as well as new modern cocktails. Cheers!
Even for a busy gentleman, there’s always time for a cocktail!
1. Drinking With the Ultimate Gentleman: James Bond
Since the first Bond movie, Dr. No was released in 1962, James Bond has been known for drinking his vodka martinis “shaken and not stirred”. In this 007 Official Cocktail book, you get insights from the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming as well as recipes, and stunning full-color photos. The 50 delicious recipes are divided into five categories: Straight Up, On the Rocks, Tall, Fizzy, and Exotic. Each recipe is developed by the award-winning London bar Swift and with inspiration from Fleming’s books. We especially like the small book extracts that accompany the cocktails. This is a great tribute to the world’s greatest secret agent and gentleman!
Hardcover: 224 pages
Price: $29.99 USD
2. Drinking With Mr. Schumann at The American Bar
If you’re into classic cocktails and bartending, you need to meet Charles Schumann. As one of the world’s best and most legendary bartenders, Schumann has worked in the iconic Harry’s in New York before opening the Schumann’s American Bar in Munich, Germany in 1982. In this classy book, you get more than 500 recipes as well as an introduction to Schumann’s principles: simple, classic, and with just a few ingredients. We are big fans of the direct and honest approach to classic cocktails. We recommend this book for all cocktail connoisseurs who appreciate an elegant touch and authentic retro feel.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Price: $35.00 USD
3. Drinking Every Day of The Year
Difford’s Guide has been around since 2001 and is one of the biggest names within cocktails and drinking. This book is inspired by a popular section of their website that features “Cocktail of the Day”. Furthermore, it’s a tribute to the traditional display boards found at many old-school bars. You get 365 different cocktail recipes with individual photographs plus, our favorite part, a small story about the history of the date. It’s a fun book that provides lots of inspiration for variation…as well as a nice excuse for a daily cocktail!
Hardback: 224 pages
Price: $25 USD
4. Drinking in Playboy Style – Deluxe Edition
Playboy is the place for male entertainment – which of course also includes cocktails. Since Hugh Heffner founded the company in 1953, the magazine has been home for some of the world’s most beautiful women alongside interviews, cartoons, and other gentlemen content. In this comprehensive bartender’s guide, you get 1,400 mouth-watering cocktail recipes with suggestions for every season, mood, and occasion. In true Playboy spirit, you also get lots of useful tips on bartending and how to present the perfect cocktail. We of course especially enjoy the great tips for throwing swinging theme parties in cool Playboy style. Ps: don’t tell your mom about this book!
Hardcover: 488 pages
Price: $140 USD
5. Drinking With The Old Mr. Boston
Old Mr. Boston is a legend within classic cocktails and bartending – and therefore, this book is also known as the “Bible of Booze”. Behind the name is a distillery from Boston established in 1933 that produced its own label of gin, bourbon, rum, and brandies. The first version of this guide and unique reference book was published in 1935. Still today, it’s a mandatory read for aspiring bartenders and cocktail fans. We recommend this as a piece of history from the days after the Prohibition.
Hardcover: 216 pages
Price: $74 USD
6. Drinking With A 21st-century Michelin Star
While this book might not be the typical Gentleman’s Guide to Cocktails, it’s a cornerstone in modern cocktails with inspiration from a progressive Michelin kitchen. Behind the book is the acclaimed American chef Grant Achatz known from the Chicago restaurant, Alinea. With more than 3 years in the making and a weight of 8 pounds, this is a seriously massive and beautiful tribute to modern cocktails.
We particularly enjoy the great quality of the print, the amazing photographs, and the references to the world of molecular gastronomy. If you are curious about the latest techniques and want to dive into the more advanced cocktails this is a great option!
Hardcover: 440 pages
Price: $85.00 USD
7. Drinking in ‘Mad Men’ Style As A True Gentlemen
One of the reasons we like “The Gentleman’s Guide To Cocktails” is, that it looks like an original prop from the set of Mad Men. With great drawings by Jack Hughes, the 150 recipes for classic cocktails are in great and stylish company. The book is written by freelance journalist and fashion brand consultant Alfred Tong who teaches you how to mix a margarita with mojo, make a gimlet with grace or create a piña colada that packs a punch. If you like cocktails with coolness factor and retro quality and want to be the perfect cocktail party host, this is the perfect option for you. PS: also see Alfred Tong’s Gentlemen’s Handbook.
Hardcover: 144 pages
Price: $29.90 USD
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8. Drinking To Understand The Fundamentals of Cocktails
The Cocktail Codex is based on an understanding of just six fundamental cocktails that can be used as the basis for mastering the art of cocktails. The three authors Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, are the visionaries behind the seminal craft cocktail bar Death & Co. In this book, they reveal their simple approach to mastering cocktails with just six “root recipes” that are easy to identify, memorize and use as templates for all cocktails. We love the simple approach to a world that can be complex and technical and recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand how cocktails and made and e.g. how you can substitute ingredients. Now, that’s a handy skill in the home bar.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Price: $21.40 USD
WINNER OF THE JAMES BEARD AWARD • WINNER OF THE TALES OF THE COCKTAIL SPIRITED AWARD® FOR BEST NEW COCKTAIL OR BARTENDING BOOK • IACP AWARD FINALIST
9. Drinking With An Aspiring Bartender
This book is a great example of learning from one of the best! Author Jim Meehan is a renowned bartender with a past at some of New York’s most revered restaurants and bars, including Gramercy Tavern and Pegu Club. The Meehan’s Bartender Manual contains recipes for 100 cocktails but the real gold is in the bar industry insights. You get information about the modern era of the bar industry as well as input from experts all over the world. What will also interest the aspiring bartender is information on bar design, menu development, spirits production, drink mixing technique, the craft of service, and finally the art of hospitality. If you are looking for personal tips and insights into a top bartender’s creative process, this is the perfect option for you.
Hardcover: 488 pages
Price: $40 USD
10. Drinking According To The Ultimate Bar Book
If you’re looking for a book with both classic and modern cocktails, The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich might be the perfect option for you. In 2008, the book was a James Beard nominee for Best Wine and Spirit Book and it’s loaded with essential-to-know topics such as barware, tools, and mixing tips. You even get illustrated secrets of classic cocktails, glass guides, recipes for garnishes, and much more. With more than 1,000 recipes this is one of the most extensive guides we have come across!
Hardcover: 476 pages
Also available: Kindle, Audiobook
Price: $19.95 USD
11. Drinking With Mr. Known It All
When the Craft of the Cocktail was first published in 2002, it was the first real “cookbook” for cocktails. The awarded book has been updated in a new edition including expertise from the King of Cocktails, Dale DeGroff. You get over 100 brand-new recipes in addition to new photos and up-to-date stories. The book is a great source of information about everything that relates to cocktail creation and drinking culture. You also get DeGroff’s favorite liquor recommendations and information on how to find the perfect gin or bourbon for your mix.
Hardcover: 256 pages
Also available: Kindle
Price: $35.00 USD
Why you absolutely need a cocktail book
Yes, we have heard of Google but no, it’s not the same and the Internet will NEVER beat a good old-fashioned…book! Here are six reasons why:
Reason no 1: Inspiration
A cocktail is a great source of inspiration! When browsing through a book, you might find recipes and tips that you would never find searching online. Marking our recipes to try the next time (if you don’t dare to go A-Z!) is also a great way to keep inspiration right at your home bar.
Reason no 2: Focus on winding-down!
The concept of cocktails is to wind-down, relax and enjoy. Therefore, opening your most beloved cocktail book will help set the mood and open your senses… instead of opening your mailbox!
Reason no 3: Practical for own notes
With a book, you can easily add your own notes and tips for next time. E.g. what tonic you liked the best for a particular gin or what you have tried to substitute with. Think of your grand-mothers cookie recipe and tell us that is not precious!?
Reason no 4: Get wiser as you drink
Even though we love Wikipedia and using the Internet to get wiser, books are exceptionally good for adding background and stories to a certain topic (see which books above). Added bonus: reading to your guests from a book while explaining where an old-fashioned comes from is almost like pointing with a pipe; no-one can argue against that!
Reason no 5: A great gift idea
With the many great cocktail guides available, you can always find something that fits perfectly with your best friend’s interests or skills. From newbie to pro or from Mad Men to James Bond, there’s something for everybody. Also, you can wrap a book, Google is more difficult!
Reason no 6: Looks great in any home bar!
Even though looks are not the most important (!), we also “drink with our eyes”. Therefore, a cocktail book is a great accessory in addition to the mandatory bar set. With different looks from classic to retro and modern, you can find something that fit’s perfectly with your personal style.
*Products in our Buyer’s Guide section are carefully chosen and we recommend only the best for our loyal audience. Bear in mind that this article contains affiliate links and if you purchase via our links – Old News Club will earn a commission.