Starting out fresh in any business can be tough without reading up on the subject before the leap. Bartending is no different, so finding the best bartender book for beginners is key for your success.
Let's explore the 9 best bartending books for beginners below...
1. The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique - Jeffrey Morgenthaler
As beginner bartender books go, this one is a comprehensive cocktail handbook with a special focus on cocktail techniques, from bartender and cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
It features over 60 recipes in different chapters themed around the various components of drinks, such as citrus juice or ice. The book is divided into three categories: techniques, ingredients and cocktail recipes, though it has fewer recipes than other cocktail guides as it prioritises the crafts, materials and processes. The book is well presented with excellent photography and gives a clear introduction to foundations of bartending and creating cocktails. It's a yes from us!
2. Regarding Cocktails - Sasha Petraske
Authored by the late Sasha Petraske, former owner of Milk & Honey prohibition-era bar in London and New York, Regarding Cocktails is an excellent bartending guide for beginners, home bartenders or even cocktail lovers, with 85 straightforward cocktail recipes.
Whilst reading, you'll be accompanied by anecdotes and reflections of a grand figure of the bartending world. The drinks range from classic cocktails to modern ones, include the measurements and tips for serving. All of this is made clear with beautiful illustrations, fit for a fine art student's portfolio.
3. Imbibe! - David Wondrich
For those with an appreciation for history, this is an insight into cocktail history and the events that have brought us to where we are today, from cocktail historian David Wondrich.
It’s often interesting to know the stories behind traditional cocktails, and they can also make for entertaining anecdotes for when serving or enjoying drinks. On this count, Wondrich doesn’t fail to disappoint, with particular and peculiar accounts of all of our favourite cocktail classics in the larger context of bartending history. It's not your everyday cocktail book, but a great read for inspiring you to create your own recipes.
4. The Drunken Botanist - Amy Stewart
As the title suggests, this bartender book approaches cocktails from a botanical perspective – a slightly different angle to the other cocktail books on this list.
Author Amy Stewart looks at the flowers, fruits, fungi, herbs and trees that have been used over the years to create the diverse range of flavours used in cocktails. The Drunken Botanist considers biology, chemistry, history and mixology, and offers over 50 recipes and advice for gardeners growing their own ingredients.
Perhaps you're one of the more experienced bartenders, a fan of mixology? This book gets you thinking about how to create delicious cocktails, unique to you. It's an all-rounder!
This great bartending book is also mentioned in our list of best bartender book recommendations. If you're looking for some absolute classics, check it out and find more great books on bartending...
5. Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails - David Kaplan & Nick Fauchald
Death & Co is an award-winning Manhattan bar famed for its high-calibre staff and innovative cocktails. The 2014 book, from authors Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan, is an encyclopedic guide to craft cocktails with drinks recipes for more than 500 cocktails, from the timeless classics to the most popular avant-garde drinks of Death & Co bar.
This book also has time for a guide to spirits, essential bartending techniques and some bartending philosophy. A large book with beautiful presentation and a cloth cover that makes it more suited to a coffee table than the back of a bar.
6. Liquid Intelligence - David Arnold
While it’s not exactly the perfect book for beginners, Liquid Intelligence from David Arnold may be a good choice for those bartenders and enthusiasts with a scientific inclination.
The book features 120 cocktail recipes, and takes a focus on the science of bartending by looking at such things as the acidity levels, temperature or sugar concentration and the way they affect the finished product.
With an increased interest in mixology and a greater range of techniques employed to achieve the perfect drink, this is a topical book that includes practical advice about prepping the bar and cocktails, along with advanced techniques using fire and liquid nitrogen. Even the professional bartender can benefit from this!
7. The Craft of the Cocktail - Dale DeGroff
This is another wide-ranging compendium from experienced mixologist and bartending trainer, Dale DeGroff. It takes a deep dive into over 500 recipes, information on different spirits and ingredients (with their historical contexts), anecdotes from DeGroff’s lengthy experience, as well as practical tips and modern techniques for working behind the bar.
This one's great for any level of bartender but it really is a great bartending book for beginners.
8. The Savoy Cocktail Book - Harry Craddock
This book was first published in 1930 and has, since then, been reprinted five times. The English author, Harry Craddock, worked as a bartender in various cities in the U.S. before bringing the American style of cocktails to The Savoy Hotel in London, where it caused quite a stir (no pun intended).
In the more recent editions, the book has been updated to include more modern cocktails, and now comprises of over 750 recipes. Even so, the book is an excellent guide to the classic cocktails of a past era and still retains its validity in the bar of the 21st century as a seminal work on cocktails.
Tapping into the past is a great way to grow as a bartender, so this is perhaps the best bartending book for beginners.
9. European Bartender School Handbook
To finish, we thought we'd a little treat from yours truly... us! It may seem a little big-headed of us but we really believe in our product and plus it's one of the best bartender books for beginners.
Why? Because just like our bartender courses, it's written by experts in the industry. Whether it's flair bartending, tiki cocktails, whiskey or best bartending practices, it all counts. You'll learn not only classic cocktail recipes, but also the history of alcohol. It's perfect for aspiring bartenders. However, this book is only attainable through taking our well- respected International Bartender Course.
Want to start your journey as a bartender? Check out our bartending courses lead by industry experts, taught worldwide!
With such an excellent selection of current and past bartending books to choose from, new bartenders should not miss out on the fantastic opportunities for self-learning that can vastly improve a practice of cocktail making.
While, of course, the practical side is all-important to the bartender, starting with some solid theoretical foundations to build upon may give newbies the helping hand they were looking for, and launch a successful bartending career in the world of cocktail making.