Making Cocktails at Home

If the cocktail aficionado can't go to the fancy bar, then the fancy bar must come to the aficionado. Here is a collection of books that will help thirsty readers mix up some libations in their own spaces. All titles are available digitally.

If the cocktail aficionado can't go to the fancy bar, then the fancy bar must come to the aficionado. Here is a collection of books that will help thirsty readers mix up some libations in their own spaces. There is guidance for all levels of mixologist, from those just beginning to explore the wide world of cocktails and mocktails to the advanced bartender wannabe who brews up their own bitters. All titles are available digitally.

GETTING STARTED: EASY SIPPERS

How to CocktailAmerica's Test Kitchen. How to Cocktail: Recipes and Techniques for Building the Best Drinks. America's Test Kitchen. 2019. ISBN 9781945256943. $24.99.
America's Test Kitchen brings its rigorous testing approach to the world of cocktails. Fans of the show will appreciate ATK's approach, which goes beyond recipe development to explaining the hows and whys of formulas and techniques. A great place to begin for any cocktail enthusiast.

New Cocktail HourDarlington, André & Tenaya Darlington. The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks. Running Pr. 2016. ISBN 9780762457267. $22. 
Frustrated with encyclopedic, but poorly organized, cocktail collections, sibling food and drink writers André and Tenaya Darlington offer an approachable and readable guide to making well-balanced drinks at home. Each drink comes with tasting notes and serving suggestions, and there are theme night suggestions as well. 

Essential CocktailsTraynor, Amy. Essential 3-Ingredient Cocktails: 75 Classic and Contemporary Drinks to Make at Home. Rockridge Pr. 2020. pap. ISBN 9781646118595. $12.99. 
One of the challenges of making any food or drink is the availability of ingredients; now isn't really the time for specialized shopping trips. Traynor, of the Moody Mixologist blog, has put together an attractive compendium of simple, but classic, cocktails that anyone will be able to master.

EXPLORING: HAPPY HOUR AT HOME

The 12 Bottle BarSolmonson, David & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson. The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. A New Way to Drink. Workman. 2014. pap. ISBN 9780761174943. $15.95.
Like Traynor above, the Solmonsons know the frustration of cocktail books that call for an over-abundance of obscure, pricey liquors that will only be used once. An offshoot of their blog, 12bottlebar.com, this collection will encourage the expansion of any drink horizons without breaking the bank. A fun design and plenty of historical asides make this an entertaining, as well as useful, read.

Drink What You WantdeBary, John. Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails. 2020. Clarkson Potter. ISBN 9780525575771. $25. 
The beverage director of Momofuku and a former bartender at PDT, has a humorous bent to his writing, but he is serious about teaching people to explore their own tastes and preferences in mixing drinks. In addition to simple and advanced cocktails, deBary offers tasting exercises to better understand one's palate, as well as a section on how to make drinks with minimal ingredients and equipment. 

DryLiardet, Clare. Dry: Delicious Handcrafted Cocktails and Other Concoctions. 2018. The Experiment. ISBN 9781615195022. $14.95.
Not every cocktail has to have alcohol to be good, and this book proves it. While many cocktail books will have a section on mocktails, Liardet goes beyond just omitting the liquor in this collection of creative and delicious drinks. Move past ginger ale and club soda with this refreshing collection that brings craft cocktail techniques to drinks without alcohol.

Drinking FrenchLebovitz, David. Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Apéritifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 Recipes. 2020. Ten Speed. ISBN 9781607749295. $28.
Just as Covid-19 has limited our ability gather for a drink, so too has it limited our travel options. Fortunately, Lebovitz has just come out with the perfect armchair travel solution. Café culture in France has its own drinking traditions, and Lebovitz explores both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including the wide world of aperitifs that make for such excellent sippers. Readers will have to provide their own café chairs for the full experience.

Smugglers CoveCate, Martin & Rebecca Cate. Smugglers Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki. 2016. Ten Speed. ISBN 9781607747321. $30. 
For another virtual travel destination there is the flamboyant world of tiki drinks. While requiring more ingredients than some of the more austere classic cocktails, tiki is as much a culture as a style of drink. The Cates own Smugglers Cove in San Francisco, one of the 50 Best Bars on Earth, and this collection will give all aspiring mixologists a good start.

Berry, Jeff. Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks. 2009. SLG Publishing. ISBN 9781593621391. $29.95. 
Restaurant owner, author, and historian Berry has dedicated his career to tracking down old tiki recipes, history, and bar lore. This book is a revised and updated version of his Grog Log and Intoxica, which are also good picks, but harder to find these days. More than just a collection of drink formulas, Berry seduces with a fantasy of the tropics.

The Essential CocktailDeGroff, Dale. The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. 2008. Clarkson Potter. ISBN 9780307405739. $35.
One of the leaders of the craft cocktail movement, DeGroff pairs down the choices to 100 of the most important cocktails. Chosen for taste and technique, he offers history and notes on each, as well as variations. The photos are as inspiring as the approach; this one is a favorite of many barkeeps while remaining quite accessible to the home mixologist.

GOING PRO: TOP SHELF TIME

The Joy of MixologyRegan, Gary. The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft. 2018. Clarkson Potter. ISBN 9780451499028. $30.
Another big name in cocktail culture is Gary Regan. The original version of this book came out in 2003, and it launched a slew of craft cocktail professionals who utilized instructions not only on drink preparation, categorization of drinks by family, and tips for creating original drinks, but also on how to handle the harder side of bartending: the customers. Regan's elegant writing entertains as well as informs.

Meehan, Jim. Meehan's Bartender Manual. 2017. Ten Speed. ISBN 9781607748625. $40.
Another bartending great, Meehan goes beyond recipes (though there are 100) and into the business of bartending with sections on layout and décor, menu construction, drinks development, and service advice. Anyone considering opening a bar, even if only in a daydream, should read this book.

Death & CoKaplan, David & Nick Fauchald. Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails. 2014. Ten Speed. ISBN 9781607745259. $40.
Another modern classic from a craft cocktail bar, Death & Co not only gives 500 recipes but also information on drink theory, purchasing advice, and how-to techniques. A coffee table book that is actually as useful as it is beautiful.

Thomas, Jerry. The Bartenders Guide, or How to Mix Drinks. 2016. Dover. pap. ISBN 9780486806211. $10.95.
From 1862, this is, purportedly, the first cocktail book published in America. There are several reprints available, including this Dover edition. While obviously old-fashioned in presentation and less practical to modern drinkers, this is the source from which all cocktail books flow.

The Savoy Cocktail BookCraddock, Harry. The Savoy Cocktail Book. 2015. Girard & Stewart. pap. ISBN 9781626540644. $14.29.
First published in 1930, Craddock's tome of hundreds of recipes is another historical source of inspiration for the cocktail revival. Several reprint editions are available. Again, old-fashioned measurements and the expectation of basic mixing knowledge make this less useful for new drink makers, but cocktail nerds will want to look at this foundation source.

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