The Bartender’s Library

Where do I turn for inspiration when I’m not sure what cocktail I’d like to make on any given night? My first stop is not the internet, actually, but rather some of the fantastic cocktail books that I’ve accumulated over the years. Whether I’m in the mood for something old fashioned, newfangled, or a classic with a twist, I can always count on my library of cocktail books for a great recipe. Here are five of my favorites.

| THE BARTENDER’S LIBRARY | A few of the books I keep close at hand on my bar cart. A heady mix of recipes and history. | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

1. Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
This was a seminal book for me in terms of getting into the whole world of classic cocktails and the craft of cocktails. Beautiful photos, informative copy, and a window into an extremely stylish era.

2. The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan and Chris Gall
Very much the modern equivalent of Ted Haigh’s book. Jim Meehan of the PDT cocktail bar—an establishment I’ve still yet to experience—has collected many of his own recipes, classics, and those of other famous modern mixologists into this go-to compendium. The state of the modern cocktail.

3. Imbibe! by David Wondrich
An absolute must-read for any cocktail buff or enthusiast. Not only does Wondrich provide many historically accurate recipes, but he also paints a rich history of the cocktail. If you know his cocktail columns from Esquire, you know how fantastically fun and informative his writing is.

4. The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich
This book is an encyclopedia of cocktail recipes. Pretty much any recipe you could ever want from the classics to all their variations and permutations. I like to search this book by base spirit. I always feel like there’s something I haven’t seen before.

5. 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die by Ian Buxton
Okay, not a cocktail book, but one of my favorites to browse through. It’s like a whiskey bucket list. Some are easily attainable and others are very aspirational. I enjoy checking off the ones I’ve had and dreaming about the ones I’ll have someday.

What are some of your favorite cocktail books?

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • Allan

    The “Vintage Spirits” book is a MUST HAVE as far as I am concerned. I believe you may have mentioned it in a post last year. I think that is how I found out about it. I pick a new drink from it as a special drink for every gathering, party, etc…

    • Brian Sacawa

      I believe so, as well. It was certainly one of the books that really got me interested in the whole movement. I remember when I first got it that many of the ingredients were very hard to find. But now, with the vintage and craft cocktail revival in full swing, many are easily gotten OR there are plenty of places to find recipes to make them yourself.

  • Marielle | High Alpine

    I am a fan of whiskey. Plan on picking up :”101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die.” Interested in collecting the other cocktail books also.

    Marielle | High Alpine