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Drinking can be as much of a status symbol as it is fun. Whether you own your own establishment or your own little at-home bar, there are plenty of ways to make your bar area bougie enough for your guests. One way, of course, is making the finest cocktails known to man.
While you can, obviously look up a fair share of recipes online, there is no understating the value of a great bar book. Whether it's an extensive cocktail guide or just a fun little book about the history of some popular drinks, there are plenty essential bar books for the hobbyist drinker. So let's take a look at the ones you should own—for your own pride's sake.
The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
We'll start with one of the most acclaimed bar books in modern history—The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff. DeGroff, a master mixologist, begins the book with some history on cocktails, before transitioning into the cookbook-esque portion of the book. It's filled with a bunch of high-quality photos and fully fleshed-out recipes, providing the reader with an aesthetically pleasing and interesting cocktail guide. It won't be long before you're making some of the hardest cocktails to make with relative ease.
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Henry Craddock was originally published back in 1930, but it has withstood the test of time and remains one of the most essential bar books for mixologists. Craddock goest over recipes for a number of different bar essentials—cocktails, virgin drinks, wine, egg nog, coolers, the list goes on. No alcohol aficionado should be devoid of this Craddock classic.
Bartenders Guide 1862 Reprint: How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas
Jerry Thomas' How to Mix Drinks is perhaps the most famous bartender guide of all time. Despite being written in the 1800s, the recipes and principles discussed in the book remain just as relevant as ever. Rarely will you ever find a such a comprehensive and complete book about the concoction of cocktails, so you better jump at the chance of acquiring this timeless classic. You'll be surprised how much there is to the history of the cocktail.
Drink Like a Man: The Only Cocktail Guide Anyone Really Needs
Drink Like a Man: The Only Cocktail Guide Anyone Really Needs was published by Esquire in 2016, thanks to the help of Ross McCammon (Editor), David Wondrich (Editor), and David Granger. This slightly more up-to-date cocktail guide covers 83 years of drinking protocol. The book includes over 125 recipes, 100 photos, and 13 "essential" recipes for the man's man. This might not be the best book for all genders, but if you know a self-proclaimed "alpha-male" with an elite taste when it comes to adult beverages, this could be the perfect niche book. And before you know it, you'll know all about cocktails tailor made for the modern "man."
Meehan's Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's Meehan's Bartender Manual was only released in 2017, but it has quickly skyrocketed up the ranks of essential bar books. Meehan is widely considered one of the premier mixologists in today's bar scene and his recently published book proves only further proves that notion. What separates this books from others, is Meehan's own detailed explanation of the modern bar scene. So if you're in the market for a more contemporary bartender's guide, this most definitely fits the mold.
The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale DeGroff
Another DeGroff instant classic, The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks gets into the nitty gritty of making a truly great cocktail. DeGroff expectedly goes over some of the classics, but also provides readers with his own little twists and tricks.
During his hey day in the 1980s, DeGroff was considered by many to be the premier mixologist in all of New York City. The New York Times even went as far as to declare that DeGroff was “single-handedly responsible for what’s been called the cocktail renaissance.” Clearly, no harm can be done by reading at least one of DeGroff's signature works. Especially if you consider yourself a true "mixologist."
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Amy Stewart's The Drunken Botanist takes a distinctive turn from some of the other entries on this list. As opposed to just a straight-up book about cocktails, The Drunken Botanist also supplies its readers with some background on the actual substance their drinks are made of. Stewart literally gets to the root (Nailed it) of tons of popular drinks, and includes over 50 drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners in this multi-faceted tool disguised as a cocktail guide.
The Bartender's Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks and Everything You Need to Know to Set Up Your Bar by Gary Regan
Gary Regan is another prominent bartender with an extensive history dating back to his beginnings as a pubtender in Lancashire, England. His book, The Bartender's Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks and Everything You Need to Know to Set Up Your Bar is an essential if you're planning to start a career behind the bar. The book includes shot-by-shot recipes for more than 1,000 cocktails and mixed drinks, advice on wine and beer drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, and tropical drinks. It also includes a bunch of funny anecdotes and history lessons, making for quite the engaging read for fans of all alcohol.
Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl by David Wondrich
David Wondrich made an appearance on this list for his collaborative effort on Drink Like a Man, but the Esquire and Wine and Spirits contributing editor gets a solo spot with his historically-driven book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl. This well-rounded book includes historical anecdotes, fun recipes, and industry observations from one of the most eloquent writers in the mixology field.
Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson
For our final entry we have Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson. This multi-faceted bar book is a combination of stories, recipes, history lessons, and travel all blended into one. If getting yourself to be a little more "cultured" in the world of spirits and cocktails, this unique read is definitely worth checking out, as it's one of the essential bar books published in the last decade.