Any recommendations for a classic cocktail/mixed drink recipe book?
January 11, 2008 10:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a recipe book for cocktails/mixed drinks. A good starter-ish/basic book that contains plenty of recipes, maybe a bit of background. Perhaps a sort of classic, definitive recipe book? Thanks.
posted by jroybal to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You could try webtender.

If you are looking for a printed book, I would suggest the Bartender's Bible or Bartending for Dummies.
posted by slavlin at 10:48 PM on January 11, 2008

I really like Cocktail, but sadly it appears to be out of print.
posted by pombe at 11:36 PM on January 11, 2008

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks for an early biased view. No G&T though.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:52 PM on January 11, 2008

Mr. Boston's is a classic.
posted by ethel at 11:55 PM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Ultimate Bar Book is the best I've ever read.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:04 AM on January 12, 2008

Although not a book, a fantastic online resource is Drinksmixer. I bartended for a few years between late highschool and early university, and we always had a laptop nearby for when people would ask for those obscure recepies that nobody has ever heard of before. It also has some decent background information on the site and a pretty good general bartending guide as well.
posted by mrw at 12:11 AM on January 12, 2008

I'll second devilsbrigade: if you can lay your hands on a copy, the sainted David Augustus Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks will be a boon companion for the rest of your days. Unfortunately it's been out of print for several decades, and those who appreciate it have pretty much driven the price up past the $200 mark. It's a classic, with good background info, but it's not worth that much to you at this point in your education. Keep it in the back of your mind, make occasional offerings to the small gods of estate sales and used bookshops, and perhaps you'll get lucky.

So, failing Embury, Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology is a friendly guide that breaks things down handily. Don't expect anyone else to understand you if you use his terminology and start mixing "squirrel sours," but otherwise he's a good source of experienced advice. Been bartending quite a while, and makes some mean bitters, Gary does.

Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail purports to be an educational volume instead of a mere cookbook, but I've not read it. He's well-respected, if a bit of an industry shill. I suspect it would serve you well.

David Wondrich writes good stuff, but none of his volumes are real beginners' guides. Look to them when you want some well-composed historical recipes with witty asides.

You may be tempted to pick up facsimile copies of old classic guides like Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tender's Guide, Chas. Baker's The Gentleman's Companion, Tom Bullock's Ideal Bartender, etc... they're interesting novelties, and instructive if you get crazy-serious about historical accuracy, but they don't lend themselves to skill-building really. Save them for later.
posted by mumkin at 1:01 AM on January 12, 2008

Agreed about _Cocktail_ (Harrington), but unfortunately both AbeBooks and aLibris list it at a minimum of $73 (or, $125 at powell's...). That's probably more money than you want to spend on this project. It's really nice, though; it starts with an overview of the classic cocktail and a description of what various levels of well-stocked bars look like (suppose you want 1 spirit: what should you get? 3 spirits? What mixers?)

Then it has a reasonably sized section in the middle with pictures and descriptions and histories of some interesting cocktails, both classic and new. This is nice because it's constrained; it's possible to work through all the cocktails in the section.

Finally, there's a section of more recipes, without pictures or anything. It's a great book, and it ends up being a really good introduction to the world of cocktails, precisely because it is constrained.

Maybe you can get it from a library or something. Certainly, if you ever see it for a reasonable price, you should totally buy it immediately.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:15 AM on January 12, 2008

Gentleman's Companion is a turn of the century (1900) era campy and odd little book for mixology.
posted by FauxScot at 5:42 AM on January 12, 2008

I do have a copy of Cocktail and it's the one I keep coming back to. I'm keeping it though. (I probably couldn't get $125 for it because of all the spillage around the "Jasmine" page - my cookbooks tend to get stuff spilled on them.)
posted by matildaben at 7:46 AM on January 12, 2008

Adding support for Mr. Boston, and reminding you that on eBay you can pick one up from basically any modern era for cheap. It's pretty much the same book with nicer design and fewer Pro-Mr Boston brand liquor sidetracks.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:13 AM on January 12, 2008

For a hard copy, I was torn between Mr. Boston and the Playboy Bartender's Guide . I settled on the Playboy guide (no jokes, please), because it had a little more detail. Especially on the history/making of different liquors.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2008

Wow, I can't believe I'm the first to point to Drinkology. No matter how good the recipes, though, you'll have to play around with them yourself. In particular I think the strength and the sweetness of drink that people prefer is really variable.
posted by madmethods at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2008

I've used the Difford's guide to Cocktails to death. My copy was bought when it was called the Sauce guide but the current edition is available here.

It's a good a guide to cocktails and mixology as it gets.
posted by brautigan at 7:08 PM on January 12, 2008

I second the Ultimate Bar Book - good recipes and a nice-looking volume.
posted by sluggo at 5:06 AM on January 14, 2008

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