4 Bartending Books to Help You Make Your Fave Drinks at Home

Our resident bartender gives us the scoop.

October 30, 2020
Photo by Elliott Clark of Apartment Bartender

Apartment Bartender is a column by Elliott Clark, Food52's Resident Bartender and an avid at-home cocktail enthusiast. Elliott's here to help us bring our favorite bar-worthy sips home—and with his spot-on guidance and expert tips, you'll soon be stirring, shaking, and garnishing like a pro.

There are a ton of great books and resources out there that focus on the basics of crafting great cocktails, and beyond. But if you’re looking to take a deeper dive, or to refine your drink-mixing skills at home, I’m sharing a few of my favorite must-reads.

This is by no means a full list of all the amazing drink-related books out there, but rather a handful of the best books to start you on your journey to becoming a better home bartender! Let me know of your favorite cocktail and bartending books in the comments.

1. The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

This was the very first cocktail and home bartending book I purchased when I first starterApartment Bartender, and I can’t recommend it enough. Morgenthaler is a leader in the bartending and hospitality industry, so this book is backed by years of expertise and credibility, yet it’s very approachable. It dives into the basics of making cocktails at home. From techniques and tools of the trade to homemade syrups and great drink recipes, this book has you covered.

2. Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by Alex Day, David Kaplan & Nick Fauchald

This is the first book put out by the team behind world-renowned cocktail bar, Death & Co. It is an absolute must-read for both experienced bartenders looking to refine their craft and those new to the game. The book is filled with the basics, advanced techniques, and cocktail recipes you need to know.

3. Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, David Kaplan & Nick Fauchald

This James Beard Award-winning book is the second book from the Death & Co team. If you are someone who really wants to take their drink skills to the next level, this is a great place to start. The premise of the book is that all cocktails derive from six core cocktail recipes: the old fashioned, the martini, the flip, the Sidecar, and the Tom Collins. This book takes such a vast topic and synthesizes it in a way that will have you understanding cocktails in a way you never thought you would. Plus, this book—along with the first volume—looks stunning on a coffee table.

4. The Flavor Bible by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

I reference this book a lot across my channels, and for good reason: It really is the flavor bible. It is my not-so-secret weapon when it comes to creating unique cocktail recipes. It’s a very comprehensive exploration of flavors, ingredients, and how they work together; a must-have for anyone looking to create their own cocktails at home and beyond.

All four of these books will provide a very well—rounded understanding of cocktails and home bartending. They also make for amazing gifts too, so don't hesitate to pick one up for your favorite cocktail-loving friend.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Because it's a classic, it doesn't require the massive number of ingredients that a book like Death & Co does. And it's great for reading through like a regular book and not recipe list.”
— M

What's your favorite cocktail book? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ermoorman
  • Dave
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  • Apartment Bartender
    Apartment Bartender
Elliott Clark, also known as the Apartment Bartender, is a well-respected tastemaker, cocktail creator, spirits writer, and photographer in the spirits industry. What started out as a hobby for making cocktails at home has developed into a full-blown career that takes Elliott all over the world mixing drinks for some of the world’s most notable brands, and making the world of spirits more accessible to the at-home cocktail enthusiast.


ermoorman July 6, 2021
Great recommendations! :)
Dave October 30, 2020
Imbibe! by David Wondrich should absolutely be on your shelf. Half history, half biography, half encyclopedia.
Apartment B. November 6, 2020
Also a great recommendation!
M October 30, 2020
The book that came before Codex: Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. It teaches you how to understand cocktail structure and recognize what classic cocktail most modern mixes are based on, well before Codex. Because it's a classic, it doesn't require the massive number of ingredients that a book like Death & Co does. And it's great for reading through like a regular book and not recipe list.
Apartment B. November 6, 2020
Thanks for the recommendation! Sounds like a great addition as well.