Best Bar Books for new bartenders or enthusiasts to add to their collection

Alright, let’s all start by taking a deep breath before we dive into the world of bar books! It’s okay to be overwhelmed, there are an incredible amount of recipe books. It’s important to begin with a self-assessment of your skills; some of these bar books are going to require more skill than others, but the goal is to find something you like, are comfortable referring to, and actually contains a majority of recipes that you’d like to try.

The Mini Bar, beginner, broken down by spirit, 100 classic recipes. Each spirit has it’s own little book, so the entire series looks like an adorable mini booze library that Don Draper would have bought his daughter for her first day of college.

The Curious Bartender Vol. 1 by Tristan Stephenson. Intermediate but manageable, refer to chapters and how they’re broken down (intro how to’s, techniques, and recipes. Solid glossary!!) Classic and modern cocktails, with digestible mixology insight. This one reminds me of a steampunk-esque guide to making really good classic cocktails, as well as some modern twists on classics. It breaks down tools, techniques, the science behind flavor: it. is. comprehensive. But an easy, even enjoyable, informative read. A full read through of the book is definitely required before diving right in if you’re newer to the home bar scene.

Death and Co!! So cool (black fabric binding with a gothic-historic vibe that feels like old-timey spirit exploration. Like you’re inventing something after your doctor prescribed you cocaine for all the ghosts in your blood.) Very comprehensive and in depth, but manageable for anyone who wants to put in a little time learning the basic ins and outs of mixology, while accepting that the complexity of mixology is going to require one or two more books. Broken down by building a bar, building a drink, and recipes. Really informative but also looks soooooo cool. Cannot stress that enough, easily might be the best looking book on this list.

The Essential Bar Book: an A-Z Guide to Spirits, Cocktails and Wine by Jennifer Fielder. Intermediate-beginner, but it’s A-Z and sometimes that’s just what the people prefer ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . 115 recipes, bright orange, navy blue and white aesthetic, gender-neutral. Intermediate but beginners will be able to learn a lot from a couple of read throughs.

The idea of essential bar books is going to entirely depend on your comfort with tools, your knowledge of spirits, and most importantly, your personal preferences. If you’re the kind of person who wants a reliable book for reference, something like the mini bar book is going to be perfect. If you’re looking to impress your friends with some mind-blowing cocktails they only think they’ve tried, Death and Co is going to be a really good resource (and beautiful addition to your bar collection.) Really evaluate the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to your home bar, because the fastest way to lose interest in a subject is to feel overwhelmed by the content.

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