14 Best Cocktail Books for At-Home Mixology

For all those times you said, "I should be a bartender."

December  7, 2021
Photo by Bette Blau

Are you sick of paying $16 for a cocktail and want to learn how to mix drinks at home? Me too! This sounds like the start of an infomercial, but I promise it’s not. It’s a plea to invest in a cocktail book…well, maybe two. Written by bartenders, mixologists, and bar managers for home bartenders, this lineup of the best cocktail books includes hundreds of recipes, thousands of techniques and tricks for mixing drinks, and pages of fascinating cocktail history. In each book, drinks experts share their go-to spirits for any number of classic cocktails and how to determine what you really like (not what you think you should like).

With a well-stocked home bar and any one of these insightful cocktail books, you’re well on your way to mastering the martini, nailing the Negroni, and feeling victorious with a bottle of vermouth in hand.

The Best Cocktail Books, According to Us

Photo by Rizzoli

1. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, Shannon Mustipher, $18.69

Rest easy with one of our favorite cocktail books from spirits educator Shannon Mustipher. Mix up rum-based classic cocktails like Jungle Bird, Parasol (think a lightened-up pineapple-banana daiquiri. Yum!), and Lake at Night, which is a blue curacao cocktail that is way less sweet and hangover-inducing than most in its category. I appreciate that Mustipher offers a spirit recommendation for every single recipe, which is useful for anyone building out their home bar.

Photo by Penguin Random House

2. The New Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff, $18.69

If you loved school growing up, you’ll love this essential cocktail book from Dale DeGroff. There are more than 100 recipes, but better yet, you’ll learn about the evolution of the martini, discover new tools and techniques for making a better cocktail at home, and will finally be able to master the art of every classic cocktail (and plenty that you’ve likely never heard of).

Photo by Penguin Random House

3. Good Drinks, Julia Bainbridge, $15.49

One of our editors' favorite cocktail books is this mocktail guide. The book is divided into drinks for every time of the day and each recipe notes how difficult and time-consuming it is (why doesn’t every cookbook include this?). “Letting the drink itself drive structure isn’t a bad idea, but I’m more inspired by occasion. My cravings usually start with a situation, a mood, a vibe, an atmosphere,” writes Bainbridge. This book is designed for everyone— or as Bainbridge says “or anyone who is not drinking for whatever reason.”

Photo by Simon and Schuster

4. The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails, Steve Reddicliffe, $21.50

Compiled by Times journalist Steve Reddicliffe, this recipe book features contributions from the likes of Pete Wells, Jim Meehan, Mark Bittman, and yes, our own Amanda Hesser. Bartender Toby Cecchini (who is credited for having created the Cosmopolitan) shares tips for stocking a bar and Melissa Clark explains the merits of simple syrup that go beyond sweetness.

Photo by Rocking Press

5. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, Tim Federle, $7.39

Give the English major in your life this literary-inspired cocktail book with cocktails like Bridget Jones Daiquiri (a blended cocktail made with strawberries, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar), Romeo and Julep (a mint julep with peach schnapps), Lord of the Mai Tais, and Gulp-iver’s Travels (a shaken, not stirred combination of vodka, peach schnapps, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice).

Photo by Penguin Random House

6. The Joy of Mixology, Gary Regan, $24.30

There are several definitive guides to cocktails. Depending on who you talk to, you may hear a few different opinions, however few bartenders will offer a recommendation without mentioning Gary Regan and The Joy of Mixology. “His easy-to-read style demystified drinks-making for the home (and pro) bartender and his ordering of cocktails into various categories made it all that much more accessible,” cocktail author Philip Greene told The Washington Post.

Photo by Bookshop

7. How to Mix Drinks, Jerry Thomas, $19.95

Jerry Thomas is the OG bartender. This book was published way back in 1862 and today’s editions are reprints of the formative text. Originals of the 19th-century tome have been auctioned off for thousands of dollars but fortunately the reprints will only put you back about $10-20.

Photo by Penguin Random House

8. Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way, Rebekah Peppler, $15.29

Apéritifs are wildly underrated stateside, but they're a big part of western European drinking culture. Food writer Rebekah Peppler dedicates more than 200 pages to defending this pre-dinner ritual with recipes for French apéritif-style cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Photo by Barnes and Noble

9. The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan, $17.89

Learn the art of mixing drinks with this essential bartender’s guide from Jim Meehan, the award-winning bartender and founder of Please Don’t Tell, a speakeasy located in New York’s East Village. Except unlike speakeasies, the recipes and teachings in this book are widely accessible: No password needed.

Photo by Chronicle Books

10. A Woman's Drink: Bold Recipes for Bold Women, Natalka Burian, $19.95

For too long, the drinks industry was dominated by men, as evident by the authors of the magnum opuses of the cocktail world. Natalka Burian saves a seat at the bar with this book of cocktail recipes from notable women in the scene. Yes, it’s beautiful but it’s also useful and smart (hey, just like women!) filled with tips for making classic cocktails like the Negroni to head-turners like ​​a mezcal gimlet with Aperol and a tomatillo Bloody Mary.

Photo by Penguin Random House

11. Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion, Maggie Hoffman, $17.69

The last thing most hosts and hostesses want to do is spend the entire evening crafting custom cocktails for every single guest. That’s where batch cocktails come in handy. A longtime food and drinks writer, Maggie Hoffman worked with bartenders all across the country to share 65 make-ahead recipes for crowd-friendly pitchers.

Photo by Tommy Bahama

12. Tommy Bahama’s The Marlin Bar, Kara Newman, $40

Is this book the most elite or sophisticated on this list? Absolutely not? Is it the most fun? Possibly. If you’re craving an escape to a tropical island, pick up this book from Tommy Bahama that features recipes for classic island drinks and the restaurant’s staples like the Coconut Cloud Martini, Pineapple Daiquiri, Painkiller, Mai Tai, and many, many more recipes that will make you want to fill your closet exclusively with Hawaiian shirts.

Photo by Penguin Random House

13. Imbibe!, David Wondrich, $19.47

This is another one of those books that drinks experts will reference when pressed with the question of “what’s the best cocktail recipe book?” It’s part recipe book, part drinks history, and wholly humorous. Cocktail writer and historian David Wondrich shares cocktail tidbits in this tickling tribute to Jerry Thomas, who is considered to be “the father of American mixology.”

Photo by Penguin Random House

14. Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions, Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan, $21.49

Making cocktails can seem confusing and cocktail bars can be intimidating. With bold wallpapers and velvet couches, the vibe is just right. But it’s usually dark and hard to read the menu and you may not know what half of the ingredients listed are. So you choose something gin-based because it’s safe and you hope for the best. Cocktail Codex removes all of that confusion and breaks down recipes, ingredients, and techniques in a way that won’t give you a headache the next morning.

Photo by Penguin Random House

15. Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture & Cocktails, with 100 Recipes from Leyenda & Beyond, Ivy Mix, $13.63

Ivy Mix is a James Beard Award-nominated bartender. She's also credited with popularizing mezcal in the United States, which is no small feat. Her new cocktail book explores the history and culture of Latin American spirits with more than 100 recipes for mezcal, rum, and tequila-based drinks.

What is your favorite cocktail to make? Is there a mixologist whose tips you always turn to? Sound off in the comments below.

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