Another year is disappearing before our eyes, so now’s a good time to consider the bounty of cocktail-related books that 2021 blessed us with. Foremost among them are not one but two books fixated on Japanese mixology, a mammoth new tome from the Death & Co. crew, and even a recipe book from T-Pain (yes, that T-Pain).
Whether you’re shopping for your own back bar or looking for a last-minute gift, we’d advise you to consult these 10 great cocktail books.
The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig
“The Japanese Art of the Cocktail” is a must-read for anyone who’s enjoyed a frosty highball in Tokyo and tried to recreate the magic at home. It comes from no less an authority on the subject than Masahiro Urushido, founder of NYC’s Katana Kitten, which is recognized as one of the world’s 50 best bars. He dutifully breaks down his interpretation of the highball alongside 79 other drink recipes that help define what makes Japanese cocktail culture so distinct.
Can I Mix You a Drink? by T-Pain and Maxwell Britten
That T-Pain published a cocktail book is a fun hook, but “Can I Mix You a Drink?” has real meat on its bones thanks to recipes developed by former Maison Premiere Bar Director Maxwell Britten and gorgeous photography. It’s also a refreshing reminder not to take cocktail-making too seriously, with punny drink titles playing on the rapper’s discography and occasional listicles like “The Best Bottom Shelf Liquor to Drink When You’re Broke or Just Trying to Be Polite Around Broke People.”
San Francisco Cocktails by Trevor Felch
This year, Cider Mill Press turned its eyes to San Francisco to make the latest entry in its series of city-based cocktail guides. The job of documenting the Golden City’s drinking culture fell to local restaurant writer Trevor Felch, who filled “San Francisco Cocktails” with 400 pages of recipes, bar profiles, interviews with local industry folks and more.
Cocktails, Mocktails and Garnishes from the Garden by Katie Stryjewski
Katie Stryjewski, who you may know as @garnish_girl, made the leap from Instagram to the printed page with the publication of her first book. As the title indicates, “Cocktails, Mocktails and Garnishes from the Garden” looks at how a home garden can be utilized to up your drink-making game, from botanical infusions to advanced garnishing from your home herb bar.
The Cocktail Seminars by Brian D. Hoefling
“The Cocktail Seminars” invites readers to study the history and development of the cocktail hands-on through 150 recipes split between five courses with themes like “Renaissance Revivals” and “Tropical and Tiki.” In addition to the recipes, each course also includes “exercises” and “examinations” that challenge the reader to guess the proportions of a Margarita or make a successful fat-washed Old-Fashioned.
Death & Co. Welcome Home by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan
The newest volume from the Death & Co. team feels like an invitation to join the much-acclaimed bar, as it begins with an introductory course on what makes mixology work before segueing into a whopping 600 recipes. Between its showing-the-ropes intro and pure volume of recipes to work with, “Death & Co. Welcome Home” deserves attention from cocktail neophytes and seasoned home bartenders alike.
The Martini: Perfection in a Glass by Matt Hranek
Like the other cocktail-centric volume published by Hranek in 2021, “The Negroni: A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail,” his newest book fixates on a single, iconic drink. “The Martini: Perfection in a Glass” reads like a collection of postcards, presenting 35 recipes for the Martini and its variants alongside notes on where the author has encountered and enjoyed them.
Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails by Robert Simonson
With America soaked in agave-based spirits coast-to-coast, the author of “The Old-Fashioned” and “The Martini Cocktail” takes a deep dive into how tequila and mezcal went from back-bar curiosities to the new backbone of contemporary drink-making. “Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails” burnishes that last note by laying out 60 recipes, most of which rely on just three to four ingredients.
The New Kindred Spirit by F. Paul Pacult
In his first new book of spirit reviews in 13 years, F. Paul Pacult evaluates a landscape that’s been completely transformed by the subsequent boom in craft distilling. Said boom may be a big part of why “The New Kindred Spirits” features reviews of over 2,400 whiskeys, brandies, rums, vodkas, liqueurs and much more.
The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques and Recipes by Julia Momosé
Proving that there’s room for more than one Japanese-centric cocktail book in a single calendar year, “The Way of the Cocktail” comes to us from Julia Momosé of Chicago’s Kumiko. The book organizes its recipes according to the 24 seasons traditionally observed in Japan, and also delves into booze-free drinks that incorporate classically Japanese ingredients.