For some of us, lockdown is providing an opportunity to try things we wouldn’t otherwise have time for, and what better opportunity than this to perfect your mixology skills? Maybe you want to brush up on your cocktail knowledge, get adventurous with new recipes, or simply learn about the history of some of your favourite drinks. Whatever you’re after, we’re sure there’ll be something to suit you in our bartending book round-up, with a selection of cocktail guides recommended by industry experts: Stephen Kurpinsky, US Brand Ambassador at Mr Black Coffee Liqueur; Jon Dubin, Senior Brand Manager at Knappogue Caste Irish Whiskey; and Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador for Absolut Elyx.
Fix the Pumps by Darcy O’Neil
If you’re looking for somewhere to start and don’t want anything too time-consuming, this recommendation is on the shorter side. However, don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t have much to offer: this book has everything you could ever want to know about soda fountains, including hundreds of recipes for you to try. According to Stephen Kurpinsky, Fix the Pumps will “have you going down a rabbit hole, and looking for old ingredients to recreate these sodas at home”. Sounds good to us.
The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson
Stephenson gives you bartending like you’ve never seen it before; Gareth Evans praises the “brilliant investigative approach taken by the cerebral Stephenson, whose modern – and admittedly at times, divisive – approach to bartending has influenced a huge amount of bars and bartenders in London and abroad”. Unpick all the assumptions you’ve ever made about how good cocktails should be crafted, and learn what’s really key to a good drink.
New York Cocktails by Amanda Schuster
First and foremost, this might appear to be a recipe book, but take a look inside and it’s so much more besides. Amanda Schuster takes you on a tour of New York City’s best bars, and the cocktails you’ll find inside them, with all the information you’ll need to recreate the experience at home. But don’t just take our word for it: Jon Dubin says that “this book does an incredible job of capturing NYC’s cocktail scene while including some fantastic drink recipes as well”.
Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life by Toby Cecchini
Cecchini’s book shares a day in the life of a bartender – Cecchini himself – and in doing so offers a witty view into all the flawed and lovable facets of humanity, as observed from behind a bar. Gareth Evans explains why this book wholly deserves its place in his recommendations: it is “a well-observed, and extremely wittily-written study of human nature as they look to meet people, make connections and share experiences in his dark corner of New York”. A meaningful, and humorous, read.
Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
If you’re missing some tropical sun in your life right now, this is the right book for you. You’ll find 77 vintage Caribbean recipes in here, some of which are being published for the first time, accompanied by stories of the people and places behind them. Stephen Kurpinsky recommends that “anyone who’s ever enjoyed a proper daiquiri or has sat in awe at one of many amazing tiki bars in the world should definitely pick up a copy”.
The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan
This is one of those books that should be lining every would-be mixologist’s shelf. Regan not only takes the reader through the most basic of cocktails, but also illustrates the links between the various ‘families’ of drinks so you can experiment wisely and make the most of your ingredients. Jon Dubin describes this as “a must-have cocktail book. Fantastic for simple recipes and also advanced recipes for when you want to step up your mixology game”.
Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan
Meehan’s Bartender Manual is certainly eye-catching with its striking green cover, and what’s inside promises to be just as inviting. Stephen Kurpinsky describes this as “by far the most complete and up to date book in the genre”; Meehan was one of the architects behind the craft cocktail revival in New York, and this expertise shows in his writing. Informed by pre-Prohibition bar manuals, and shaped by an extensive career, this might be just the thing you need if you’re interested in bartending either as a hobby or a career. Kurpinsky even suggests that “you might be able to open a successful bar, just by reading this book”.