best cocktail books
"The New Craft of the Cocktail" by Dale DeGroff. Image: Clarkson Potter.

The realities of 2020 have swollen the ranks of home bartenders across the nation, and this year’s batch of cocktail books provides plenty of new libations to try and boozy knowledge to soak up.

Whether it’s a fascinating trip through the world of Latin American spirits, an infuriating if enlightening look at our nation’s liquor laws, or a coast-to-coast cocktail road trip, these books provide much to learn and more to drink.

So, if you need a holiday gift or just some new reading material, these 10 cocktail books deserve a place on everyone’s shelf.

Easy Tiki book by Chloe Frechette
Ten Speed Press

Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes by Chloe Frechette

Everyone wants to make Tiki drinks at home—until they see 12-ingredient recipes calling for multiple rums and spirit infusions. “Easy Tiki” is the antidote to that conundrum, presenting 60 drinks from the genre’s past and present that have been stripped down to the essentials for home bartending.

Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink book

Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink!: 65 Cocktails to Protest America’s Most Outlandish Alcohol Laws by C. Jarrett Dieterle

In a year that’s seen generations-old barriers around selling alcohol lifted—and the imposition of fresh restrictions on bars and drinkers—a deep dive into America’s often confounding and antiquated drinking laws seems warranted. Naturally, “Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink” provides recipes for more than 60 cocktails that you can raise in rebellion.   

the happy hour handbook
Whiskey Media Studios

The Happy Hour Handbook

The Happy Hour Handbook” is the result of some of Denver’s most lauded drinking and eating establishments—Ace Eat Serve, Brass Tacks, Death & Co., Poka Lola Social Club, and more—joining together to support their local industry. All proceeds from the beautifully photographed and illustrated book, which includes recipes for cocktails and small dishes as well as notes on proper technique and glassware, are shared among the 16 participating bars and restaurants.

Pappyland bourbon book
Penguin Press

Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson

Pappyland” isn’t a cocktail book in the sense of sharing recipes and techniques, but rather a well-researched and definitive history of how Pappy Van Winkle became the holy grail of whiskey. In particular, it follows the label’s founder, Julian Van Winkle III, as he seeks to preserve the Pappy Van Winkle legacy for the future after exhausting the original stores.

The New Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
Clarkson Potter

The New Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Master Mixologist, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff

The father of the craft cocktail renaissance published the first edition of his tome, originally titled “The Craft of the Cocktail,” in 2002. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. DeGroff’s new update includes fresh photography, over 100 new recipes, and fills in its cocktail history with the happenings of the last two decades.

Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World by Adrienne Stillman

Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World by Adrienne Stillman

The cocktail gets the Phaidon treatment in this new release, which encompasses a half-millennium of its history over the course of 432 aesthetically pleasing pages. And unlike other coffee table books, you may find yourself cracking “Spirited’s” spine frequently to take a hack at the more than 600 recipes contained therein.

Spirits of Latin America by Ivy Mix
Shannon Sturgis

Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture & Cocktails with 100 Recipes from Leyenda & Beyond by Ivy Mix

Written by the co-owner of Brooklyn bar Leyenda, one of America’s preeminent Latin-focused cocktail bars, “Spirits of Latin America” is a tour of the fascinating and oft-misunderstood distillates of the Caribbean and Central and South America. Broken into three main sections— “Agave,” “Sugarcane,” and “Grapes”—Ivy Mix explores the past, present and future of Latin spirits familiar and obscure, along with recipes from her bar and others.

The United States of Cocktails book
Harry N. Abrams

The United States of Cocktails: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions from All 50 States (and the District of Columbia) by Brian Bartels

To create this attractively illustrated guide to coast-to-coast drinking, Brian Bartels traveled to all 50 states to report on their boozy history and contributions to American cocktail culture. Contained within “The United States of Cocktails” are more than 100 recipes representing long-standing state traditions and contemporary creations from their present-day bar scenes.

Whiskey Master Class by Lew Bryson
Harvard Common Press

Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye and More by Lew Bryson

Whisky Advocate editor and “Tasting Whiskey” author Lew Bryson has distilled 30 years of writing experience into this new release, which guides readers through the taxonomy, history, science, and art of creating whiskey. Newcomers to the category can read “Whiskey Master Class” to cram on the basics, while old-hands may be interested in fresh interviews with master distillers. 

Zero: A New Approach to Non-Alcoholic Drinks
The Alinea Group

Zero: A New Approach to Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Somewhat surprisingly, 2020 has been a big year for non-alcoholic mixed drinks, which have received their own sexy recipe tome from the minds behind “The Aviary Cocktail Book.” Like that aforementioned volume, “Zero” is gorgeously photographed and designed, presenting recipes for more than 100 cocktails. But this time, there’s nary a buzz in sight. 

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