I’ve often been asked by guests at my bar which books one should get when beginning their exploration into the world of cocktails. Seeing as my bar’s cocktail program focuses on classics and twists on those classics, I assume that they are looking for a book that will reflect my passion for these classics. While many good cocktail books from Prohibition and earlier and not in print anymore and quite expensive, there are some older books that are still in reprint and would be a benefit in any cocktail geek’s collection.
In no particular order, here they are:
1. The Savoy Cocktail Book (by Harry Craddock)
2. Jigger, Beaker and Flask: Drinking around the World (by Charles H Baker)
4. The Bartender’s Guide (by Jerry Thomas)
6. 173 Pre-Prohibition Cocktails (by Tom Bullock)
8. Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century (by Paul Harrington)
10. Imbibe! (by David Wondrich)
11. Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, (by Ted Haigh)
While this in by no means a complete list, it is a good start for anyone who is getting serious about cocktails, and doesn’t want to hurt their wallet too much.
Now, if I were to pick out a book that I think every bar should own, I would have to go with diffordsguide to Cocktails #7. With over 2250 cocktails in between its thick hard covers this book will have a drink recipe for everyone. Not only is it authoritative and encyclopedic, it’s also damn pretty. Each drink recipe has a picture of the finished drink in beautiful glassware, and in the notes each recipe is accompanied by a comment and/or origin of the drink. Simon (as in Simon Difford) was also kind enough to throw in a five-star (circle) ranking system for each cocktail.
As I’ve mentioned, the photography is beautiful, and interspersed throughout the tome are little vignettes with thorough descriptions of drink classes (like the Crusta) or specific cocktails themselves (like the Sazerac).
Overall, I can’t say enough about this book, if you own a bar, this is a great resource and darn cheap at $23. If you don’t own a bar, I would still suggest it, as it is easy to read and it will inspire you to start creating your own concoctions.
That’s all I have for you today. If you’re wondering what brought on this post about books, I’ve recently been interviewed by a magazine that was curious about my collection, and wanted a picture of me surrounded by my library. Below is that picture, with some of my books in the background. That huge book that I’m holding? Well, it’s two months of newspapers from November and December 1933. (That’s right, the year and month that Prohibition was repealed. Interesting reading indeed.)
Good night and happy collecting!