If you wish to take your mixology and bartending skills to the next level, the best way to accomplish that is to read bartending books.
what’s so good about books is that they deep dive into specific subjects.
in other words, experts already did the hard work for you.
they laid down decades of experience and knowledge on pages ready for you to pick.
let’s say you wish to learn more about how spirits are made and what techniques are used in the process.
or maybe you want to understand advanced techniques like clarification and nitro infusions.
if so, books are your best bet to accomplish those tasks.
This list of bartending books is based on my personal preferences, books that gave me the best tips and made me a better bartender and mixologist.
I always return to some of those books when I do R&D for new cocktails or menus, or even to do some research for new posts on Jigger & Sons.
This list is my recommendation for every bartender both professional and home bar alike, who wish to level up his skills and get to the next level.
1. The Bar Book – Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Who is it for? every bartender either a beginner or professional – this is the ultimate guide for you.
Jeffrey is a master bartender he started his career back in 1996.
The Bar Book is constructed in the way you’ll normally construct a drink.
starting with juices and syrups moving to ice and finishing with garnishes.
for instance, you have a complete chapter on mixers and soda, a chapter on juices and even one dedicated to ice.
This is one of the first bartending books I have owned and I love it to this day,
I consider it the bible for bartending basics.
2. Liquid Intelligence – Dave Arnold
Who is it for? mixologists that wish to become scientists.
or if you just love cool methods for making drinks.
Dave Arnold is the scientist of the mixology world, he is by far the most accurate one in terms of recipes and methods. with Arnold, everything needs to be weighed and measured to get to the perfect results.
this book will force you to think like a scientist – and you should be glad about it.
If you wish to learn how to clarify juices, using liquid nitrogen to muddle herbs or make crystal clear ice – Dave is your guy.
3. The Joy Of Mixology – Gary Regen
Who is it for? bartenders who wish to level up their service game and learn some cool facts about the classic cocktails.
First of all, this is a fun book to read.
Gary is a wonderful storyteller, the book is full of stories about cocktail history and different techniques.
second, this bartending book contains over 300 recipes – so it’s a great deal.
4. The Drunken Botanist – Amy
As a mixologist, it is really important to know your spirits.
for instance, what are they made of or where they are made?
all of those questions will be answered in The Drunken Botanist.
Amy explains what fermentation and distillation is.
in addition, everything is written in an easy to understand manner.
this book is a must-read for every serious mixologist to learn the basics of the liquors at his disposal.
Who is it for? serious bartenders who respect classics and want notes from an 1882 bar owner (you’ll be surprised).
This book originally published in 1882 bar owner Harry Johnson.
Harry put all of his notes about running a bar, cocktails and more in this bartending book.
this one really gives you some insights about owning a bar, you’ll be surprised how relevant his notes are.
6. A History of the World in 6 Glasses – Tom Standage
A really fun angle about human history through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, and Coca-cola.
from 3000 BC to this day Tom shows how drinks change our history.
although it’s not classified as a bartending book I enjoyed it so much that I have to recommend it to you.
plus it makes some really interesting talks with patrons 🙂
7. The Craft of The Cocktail – Dale DeGroff
Degroff dives deep into different subjects. for instance, he explains every ingredient and spirit in detail.
this book really explains bar techniques well and has 500 recipes.
which makes this book the ultimate bartender’s cookbook out there.
8. The Flavor Bible – Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
If you are taking mixology seriously you need to have this book.
out of all of this list this is the one I use the most.
this book was intended for chefs but, as mixologists, we often need to pair flavors and balance drinks.
The book is constructed like a dictionary of ingredients so its best to have a print copy for future reference.
9. The Smugglers Cove – Martin and Rebecca Cate
I’m a huge fan of tiki cocktails, in fact, rum combined with fresh fruits and spices always get the job done for me.
and above all, living in an endless summer country also adds to my love for tiki cocktails.
If you are sharing the love for rum cocktails with me, you must get your hands around a copy of The Smugglers Cove.
apart from featuring more than 100 recipes, this is also the unofficial encyclopedia of rums.
the smuggler’s cove helped me develop so many drinks that I have a special place in my heart for it.
10. The 12 Bottle Bar – David & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
Who is it for? home bartenders who wish to start with a limited inventory but still be able to make 200 cocktails.
This book is, first of all, a challenge – to build a complete home bar with just 12 bottles.
second, if you are just starting to stock your own home bar this book is perfect for you.
in short, you’ll be surprised how much you can learn from using a limited inventory.
A Word of Advice
If you can peek just 3 books from this list I will strongly recommend The Bar Book, Liquid Intelligence and The Flavor Bible.
those are the bartending books that had the most impact on my professional career.
To this day I always go back for reference when I need some data.
for instance, I use the flavor bible in every R&D session I do for new bar programs or menu development.
If you’re only starting your bartending journey, start with the bar book, it will give you the essential basics you need.
on the other hand, if you are more advanced you should pick up a copy of The Craft of The Cocktail.
Add to your library as you go be curious, take notes and bookmark important information. aim to implement what you learn, experiment and try new things. this is how you improve!
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