Not that long ago all the drink books in print could fit on a single shelf. But just as cocktails and spirits have flourished over the last decade, there has also been an outpouring of writing on liquor. Not only are these tomes good reads, they also make great gifts. Here are some of our favorites.
World Whiskey ($25) Edited by Charles MacLean
Giving World Whiskey is like giving a 700-bottle collection of whiskey. The thick, well illustrated book has sections on whiskey producing regions around the world, from the famous (Scotland and Kentucky) to the less so (Scandinavia and India). Each bottle mentioned gets a photo and brief description.
The Cocktail Primer ($20) By Eben Klemm
Since 2003, Eben Klemm has been creating the cocktail menus and training the bartenders for all 16 of B.R. Guest’s restaurants. (He created Dos Caminos’ super-popular Margarita.) Lucky for us, Klemm has distilled his ideas on bartending down to an easy to read guide that’s the perfect gift for an aspiring home bartender.
Mix Shake Stir ($30) by Danny Meyer
Danny Meyer’s mini-chain of restaurants, including the famed Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, changed the face of New York City dining and helped bring back the cocktail. Mix Shake Stir has dozens of recipes for both classics and drinks from his restaurants’ menus, as well as for haute bar snacks.
Bixology ($17) By Eve O’Neill and Doug “Bix” Biederbeck
Bixology goes well beyond just providing classic cocktail recipes. The slender volume is full of interesting tidbits, useful advice and odd lore. (Who knew that Richard Nixon favored rum and Cokes?) It’s perfect info for making small talk at holiday parties.
Lush Life ($25) By Jill DeGroff
The pages of a Lush Life (pictured above) contain a who’s who of the world’s top mixologists, each of whom is immortalized in one of Jill DeGroff’s highly-stylized and vibrant portraits. Many of the subjects have also contributed a signature cocktail recipe and, like any decent bartender, a good anecdote.
Legendary San Francisco barman William T. “Cocktail” Boothby published his mixology guide American Bar-Tender in 1891. The volume is extremely rare but was recently reproduced with a new forward. Full of recipes, vintage ads, advice and even a 10 commandants for bartenders, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the cocktail world of the late 19th century.
The Bartender’s Gin Compendium ($24) By Gaz Regan
Gaz Regan knows a thing or two about bartending (he literally wrote the book: The Joy of Mixology). His latest project is The Bartender’s Gin Compendium, which includes just about everything you’d ever want to know about the juniper flavored spirit, including reviews of every major brand.
Vintage Cocktails ($50) Edited by Brian Van Flandern
This glossy coffee-table book gives more than 120 classic cocktails the star treatment. Brian Van Flandern, the former head mixologist at the gourmet New York City restaurant Per Se, selected each recipe. Flipping through it will make you thirsty.
Modern Classic: Imbibe! ($24) By David Wondrich
Jerry Thomas was the first celebrity mixologist and author of the seminal Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks. While many of the cocktails he created are still popular, up until recently not much was known about the legendary barman. That is, until David Wondrich published his rich and exhaustive biography, which includes 100 classic recipes.
Modern Classic: The Essential Cocktail ($35) By Dale DeGroff
Master mixologist Dale DeGroff shares 100 of his favorite classic recipes and 100 original variations in The Essential Cocktail. The book also includes bartending tips, advice and drink history. Every bartender should have a copy close at hand.
Modern Classic: And a Bottle of Rum ($15) By Wayne Curtis
The history of rum is inextricably tied to the founding of America. Wayne Curtis explores the origins of the popular spirit and the New World in 10 cocktails. The fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable book is about much more than just drinks.