Ask the Critics: What’s a Good Cocktail Book?


Subha M. Asks: I’m looking for a cocktail book that has a good mix of both classic cocktail recipes and more modern ones. Any suggestions?

Dear Subha: I say there’s nothing like investing in a good cocktail book, especially when drink prices in New York City now hover at around $12. With a good guide and some tasty booze, you can easily bring the party home. Here are some of my suggestions.

My all-time favorite is Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail, with over 500 recipes, a guide to mixing techniques, a history of different spirits and types of drinks, plus lots of anecdotes and history to impress your friends while preparing them a Rob Roy.

My other top pick would be The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan, which focuses more on the art of bartending. Think of it as an instructional jumping-off point for eventually creating your own drinks. It has over 350 recipes as well as a thorough history of all things cocktail-related.

The Savoy Cocktail Book from Harry Craddock, former barman at that famed London hotel, is another classic, although you won’t find “modern” recipes here (though aren’t all the modern recipes just riffs on old ones?) and the instructions can be hard to follow for cocktail novices. But the book is timeless and will make you long for the era when it was commonplace to dance the night away under the influence of May Blossom Fizzes.

I also reached out to our resident cocktail expert, Chantal Martineau, who praised Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric (of Employees Only). She said the book is very user-friendly and great for entertaining at home, though slightly less focused on the classics. She also suggested Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails for a comprehensive overview of drinking culture. Should you be looking for more of a cocktail history book, she also recommends Imbibe and Punch by David Wondrich, which I wholeheartedly endorse. And her final tip was Jason Wilson’s recently released Boozehound, which she says offers a fresh, hilarious look at cocktail culture with recipes.

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