Mixology is a fine art. It’s creative, precise, and very personal all at once.
If you’re anything like me, then every time you’re at a nice bar watching the bartender serve up your favorite alcoholic drink, you’ll be lost for words watching all the mixes and flashy tricks.
It can seem super daunting getting yourself into all of that jazz, but luckily there are a few handy books lying around in bookstores, and on the internet to help get you started, whether you’re a complete beginner at home or just looking to show off to your friends, or a serious professional bartender wanting to turbocharge their tips.
Make sure to stick around because we’re going to take a look at the best mixology books for cocktail artists of all levels!
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8 Best Cocktail Books in 2023 By Category
Best Overall: The Joy Of Mixology, Gary Regan
Easily the most comprehensive, while still digestible, cocktail guide out there. Gary Regan’s The Joy Of Mixology is much more than a textbook full of recipe cards.
With his unique way of categorizing drinks, Regan will not only have you able to tell the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Boulevardier but able to make killer versions of both in no time.
At only $15, it’s a killer bargain too, and if bartending and cocktail-making get you excited, then you’re going to struggle to find a better way to spend that money.
A brilliant all-rounder that covers all bases, The Joy of Mixology is the perfect one-stop shop for cocktail books for bartenders and hobbyists of all abilities.
Best For Beginners: Regarding Cocktails, Sasha Pestreke
So you’re just starting off, dipping your first toes into the deep pool of mixology, bartending and cocktails. So what’s the best mixology book for you?
Well, that would be Sasha Pestreke’s Regarding Cocktails.
Not only does this book give you 85 cocktail recipes (with both classic and modern variations!), but it gives you advice on measurements, ingredients, and preparations, as well as tips on how to run and maintain a home bar.
Sasha has used all of his experience running the famous Milk and Honey to craft Regarding Cocktails and it shows. At under $20, this book is the perfect beginner manual and will have you blowing your friends away in no time.
Best Recipe Book: The Nomad Cocktail Book, Leo Robitschek
History? No chance. Fancy techniques? Not interested. Great recommendations on how to set up and run your own home bar? Forget it.
You just want a book without all the frills and spills to give you as many beautiful cocktail recipes as you can pack between two covers. Well, don’t stress, we got you.
The Nomad Cocktail book is exactly that, a top-class recipe book, over 300 of them in fact! The book is organized by cocktail type so you can perfect your classics or aperitifs without any hassle.
If all you’re after is a cut above the rest recipe book, you can’t pass up the Nomad Cocktail Book. Check it out for less than $15 below:
Best History Book: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh
Dry Gin. Lillet Blanc. Lemon Juice. Triple Sec. The Corpse Reviver. That’s what most people think of when they see a history book. This isn’t that at all.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails won’t cure insomnia, and it won’t make you stare endlessly out of your living room window.
Ted Haigh (aka Dr. Cocktail) takes a deep dive into prohibition-era America, to find out exactly what people were drinking in the Speakeasies.
Banning alcohol just made cocktails more desirable, and Haigh details the story of how they went from an enjoyable beverage to a worldwide phenomenon in an era of massive social upheaval.
If that isn’t enough to warrant your $20, Dr. Cocktail throws in over 100 recipes, many of which have never been seen before from unpublished manuals and scraps of paper!
Most Interesting: Booze & Vinyl, Andre and Tenaya Darlington
Let’s face it, you don’t drink cocktails in silence. That would be weird. But if you’re making them at home (or heck, even if you’re running a bar yourself), finding the right music for the drinks is tough.
Do you go for some soft jazz or blues to set the mood, or a more upbeat, funky pop track to lift the place a bit?
Well, Andre and Tenaya Darlington have you covered with Booze and Vinyl, the perfect book for pairing cocktails with records.
Easily accessible for about $15, this title is sure to leave you boogying away to your heart’s content, with your favorite drink in hand.
Check out one of the best (and most interesting) bar books below:
Best For Bartenders: Cocktail Codex, Alex Day, Nick Fauchaud, David Kaplan
If you’re a professional, and you need to memorize dozens of cocktails on the spot, and even be able to mix and match ingredients to make your own, and you need to find the best mixology book for that, then Cocktail Codex is for you.
The mixology rules are ripped up and rewritten here, as the authors argue you only need to know how to make 6 cocktails, and everything else belongs in the same family as one of those 6.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with this basic concept, you’ll have the keys to the whole world of mixology, improvising new hits on the fly and refining old classics.
Quite frankly, Cocktail Codex is a game changer for bartenders, and at only $20, it’ll pay for itself in tips in no time. Find out more here:
Best Decorative: The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock
The Savoy Cocktail Book. You knew it was going to appear in this list somewhere as the definitive best bar book. Sure, it’s a little outdated these days, but Harry Craddock’s recipes still hold up remarkably well and form the basis for most classic cocktails that you and I enjoy to this day.
With a fetching Art Deco cover, the reprint edition will make an excellent addition to your coffee table or bookshelf, and only set you back about $13!
Stylish, sophisticated, and packed with quality recipes, the Savoy Cocktail Book is a real contender for the best mixology book, and as a bonafide classic, it’ll never look out of place on your coffee table.
Best For Techniques: Liquid Intelligence, David Arnold
Recipes are fun. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience ordering a cocktail that hits the spot perfectly.
But there’s something so mesmerizing about watching a professional bartender flip their shakers around, pour spirits feet away from their measurer, or set your garnish on fire. It’s hypnotic.
Want to infuse vodka with coffee to perfect your espresso martini? David Arnold has you covered. What about getting the fizz of your champagne just perfect for a French 75? David Arnold has you covered.
Any decent bartender can make a good version of any classic cocktail. Liquid Intelligence will put your cocktails a cut above the rest.
As with Cocktail Codex, the tips alone are likely to front the $25 bill this book will cost you, so check it out now to put yourself at the elite end of bartending:
7 Other Great Mixology Books
Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, Shannon Mustipher
An amazing entry that can’t make the top list because it’s a more niche recipe book, Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails gives you all you need to know about these summer smash hits.
Not only does Shannon Mustipher give you amazing recipes, but you’ll also get recommendations on rum, and how to make your own fruit juices at home.
If you’re partial to a Mai Tai, and you want to perfect some tiki drinks before the summer rolls around, you can’t afford to pass this one up, especially not for only $17:
Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy, Marissa Huff
Not only can the Italians cook, but they can also drink. How do you make a beautiful Lasagne taste better? By leading it with a Negroni, of course!
If you think you’re just in for some basic Aperols then you’re going to be pleasantly surprised, as Marissa Huff gives the full aperitivo experience, delivering stunning frittata and focaccia recipes to go hand in hand with your drinks.
At $30, it’s a bit pricier than a lot of the other books on this list but well worth it if you want to impress your family or a significant other with a stunning meal and drinks experience:
Spirits of Latin America, Ivy Mix
Latin Americans can throw a party. And some big ones at that.
Take a journey through the mezcals of Mexico, the rum-based drinks of the Caribbean, and even travel up through the grape-based spirits of the Andes Mountains in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia.
Not only will this drink give you some great recipes, and plenty that you’ve never heard of before, but also give you the history and the context behind the drinks, making this as much of a cultural story as it is a cocktail.
At just under $13, it’s a budget-friendly pick for your bookshelf, and will teach you a thing or two about the fiery Latin spirit on its way:
Imbibe, David Wondrich
A close contender for the best history book award, Imbibe follows the life of Jerry Thomas, the pioneer of the American bar.
Imbibe not only gives you a detailed overview of Jerry Thomas’ huge personality but also over 100 recipes with detailed notes and historical context.
If you’re a history buff who’s fascinated by mixology, drinks, and cocktails, you can’t get a much better read for $16:
I’m Just Here for the Drinks, Sother Teague
One of the best mixology books from one of the world’s top bartenders, Wine Enthusiast’s 2017 Mixologist of the Year takes you deep into the rabbit hole of cocktails and spirits to teach you all sorts of tips and tricks about what to drink, how to drink, and how to make it.
With a new copy at $16, and used going for much much less, there’s plenty of value packed into Sother Teague’s cocktail manual. You’ll never be at a loss for what to drink again!
Drink Like a Man, Ross McCammon and David Wondrich
It’s hard to drink a good cocktail and not feel powerfully masculine. Al Capone, Jordan Belfort, Harvey Specter. These are all men with presence who you picture with a drink in hand.
Drink Like a Man will make you the best host in town, teaching you how to make batch cocktails as well as the classics. After reading this, you’re the go-to guy for everything concerning drinks.
That’s quite the swell of pride for just $18.
A Woman’s Drink: Bold Recipes for Bold Women, Natalka Burian
In an industry crowded full of men and masculinity, this isn’t just a breath of fresh air.
This is an entire spring morning sunrise! Sexy, empowering, and unapologetically feminine, A Woman’s Drink is a celebration of all things female in the cocktail scene and is jam-packed with recipes for every imaginable occasion.
This book is all about enjoyment and fun, and at less than $16, the price won’t kill the party either!
That Concludes our Comprehensive List of the Best Mixology Books
So there you have it, the best list of mixology books to level up your skills and master the bar.
Whether you’re a hobbyist, professional, or just interested in the history of drinks, there’s something here for you to kickstart your cocktail journey.
Don’t forget to check out The Joy of Mixology, the best overall mixology book for 2023.
I started bartending in 2017, just 4 days after my 18th birthday, at a cocktail bar in my hometown. I immediately fell in love with the art and science of mixology and have since worked in bars across Yarm, York and Liverpool in England.