I was pretty sure I had already written this list, but maybe I’ve just been thinking about it a lot. When it comes to cocktails I stand on the shoulders of giants, knowing what has already been mixed has obviously been much of my learning in this. I don’t own or have read all of the cocktail books out there, but I have read many. If we excluded the ones that are written only in Swedish and ignore all of those that are so big they are more of an encyclopedia i.e. not very user friendly, then I’m left with this, admittedly arbitrary, list. You could start out at worse places.
1. Tequila mockingbird by Tim Federle. I’m on record not liking this book much but that is primarily because when I came across it I was already neck deep in mixology and having been a bookworm from an early age I take the whole “literary” very literally. That said I do know people like it and they use it. It’s small and fun and Federle has inspired people to actually mix cocktails so two thumbs up for that.
2. Storied sips by Erica Ducey. This is an easy to use and very stylishly put together overview of cocktails managing to get by a fair few classics and a couple of less expected ,but worthy, forgotten drinks. It gives a bit of cocktail history along with the recipes, that are organized from weak to strong. I like this one a lot and have given away copies as presents.
3. The Savoy cocktail book. This is the bible, the foundation of modern mixology and one of the most classic cocktail books out there. Not all the cocktails in it are suited for the modern palate and some ingredients are no longer available, but you can’t go all that wrong if you in addition to this know how to Google. There are excellent resources online for what to use instead and project The savoy stomp(here) is the best of them. I do admire that sort of undertaking.
4. The PDT cocktail book. The bar PDT (please don’t tell) has probably been one of the bigger players in the cocktail revival. The speak-easy style bar in New York(entrance through a phone booth in a hot dog place) has spawned many replicas and their mixology is on point. They mix classics and modern tipples (tequila is for natural reasons rather absent from the Savoy Cocktail book) and has a few very helpful chapters and charts about what a home bar needs, about seasonal ingredients and snacks.
5. Imbibe by David Wondrich. Not a cocktail book per se but a book about the history of cocktails mostly. It’s a good read however and you can learn a lot by following the evolution of cocktails. Wondrich is the the godfather of modern mixology.
6. Drinks by Tony Conigliaro. If the Savoy cocktail book is the cocktails of yore, The PDT cocktail book all about the here and now, then Conigliaro takes it into the future. Gourmet food that get three stars in Guide Michelin is wasted on me. Deep friend lichen? Come on. Applying the same sort of thinking to cocktails however and I’m intrigued. That Conigliaro loves perfume and uses that as inspiration obviously endears him to me. And lichen-infused gin with a syrup that mimics that taste of stone? Awesome. 69 Colebrook row is not the cosiest or most centrally located bar in London but I always leave with a smile on my face and a head full of ideas. This is as close as you can come at home. What I have also learned is that you don’t need an expensive laboratory to make the ingredients. I managed to make the salted caramel liqueur in my own kitchen. Will share the recipe at some point.
7. Shake,stir,pour by Katie M. Loeb. As I like to make a lot of ingredients myself I think this is a good book, and easing into mixology by way of cooking isn’t a bad idea. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to create a cocktail with a twist, to have made a syrup of seasonal berries or an infused spirit. Instructions are very good in this one even though it does not have the nice design that some of the others do.