Bartender books are just like all the other books in the world... there are a lot of them out there, and they're not all good.
But never fear! Because we've answered your calls and delivered extensively.
We've taken into account all levels of bartending experience and we're confident that your perfect bartender book is hiding somewhere within this list.
Read on to discover your perfect match...
1. The Joy of Mixology – Gary Regan
First up on our list is The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan, one of the best books if you’re looking for a comprehensive overview. Start your mixology journey with the history of cocktails and eventually find yourself discovering the art’s fundamentals. With over 350 cocktail recipes to be discovered and remembered, your introduction to the bartending world won’t be lacking!
The author, Regan, was well known for his bartending lessons in the past, where he'd share all his cocktail knowledge to young aspiring bartenders. Through reading this classic, you too, will be able to learn from one of the masters.
One of the best aspects of this bartender book, is that Regan shares his own novel method of categorising cocktails. This method has helped bartenders all over the world not only remember the classics but craft cocktails of their own.
Why read it? If you're looking to get into bartending and learn all about its basics, this is one of the best bartending books for you.
2. Cocktail Codex - Nick Fauchald
At number two, is the mysteriously named 'Cocktail Codex'. Despite being published in 2018, bartenders shouldn't turn their nose up at its modern take on creating cocktails.
For the book's writers, crafting cocktails shouldn't be some complicated ritual, unattainable to the inexperienced. On the contrary, they break cocktail-making down into 6 simple templates for success. As you read on, you'll be able to attain even more information about how to create your own recipes and become a master mixologist. Whether it's modern, classic or contemporary cocktails, this bartending book has it all and is ready to serve up a cocktailing masterclass.
Before we finish, it's worth pointing out something special about this bartender book and that's its artwork. It's crammed with beautifully designed illustrations, making it more than just a book on bartending.
Why read it? If this wasn't enough to convince you, it's also won the James Beard's Book of the Year award. It's literally an award winning bartending book, what more do you want?
3. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails - Shannon Mustipher
This suggestion could be a little too left-field for some but bear with us! Tiki cocktails aren't exactly new in the bartending world, but their popularity has re-exploded in recent years, making a big comeback.
Of all the bartender books on this list, this is one that'll unleash your creative potential. Tiki cocktail recipes are famously colourful and packed full of flavour, so are great to get creative with. Learn about making syrups and using fresh fruit juices in this unique take on cocktail-making.
Whilst the recipes are well written, Tiki cocktails can be hard to make, so it'll be good to have some experience behind you before purchasing this cocktail book. Nonetheless, it really offers a high quality look into cocktail experimentation and the tiki culture.
Why read it? Want to keep up with the latest bartending trends? This one's a must read.
4. Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1862 (reprinted) – Jerry Thomas
As cocktail books go, this is a classic of classics! It's the best bartending book to get to know your classic cocktails and their origins inside out. Think of it as the equivalent of Das Kapital for history students. It's a must read for any aspiring bartender to understand the industry.
Coming to us all the way from 1862, the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide takes you on a trip of the cocktail world in that era. You'll be learning about the cocktail recipes that pioneered the cocktail movement. Classic cocktails like Juleps, Punches, Cobblers and Slings are all included in their purest form, giving you a chance to understand the culture and influences of the time. Even though bartending has moved on a lot since the 19th century, don't discount its importance and the opportunity to learn from the real OGs.
Why read it? Of all the bartending books out there, hold this one in the highest regard!
5. The Drunken Botanist – Amy Stewart
Fan of science and bartending? Then, Amy Stewart's book on bartending is the book for you.
The Drunken Botanist approaches bartending from the angle of its ingredients and how the science works within the glass (or cocktail shaker). The focus of the book is botany, and it's great at explaining how plants eventually came to be part of drinks. Whether it's a herb, flower or a fruit, it's all covered, as Stewart dives deep into the origins of alcoholic drinks.
Something we think is particularly great about this cocktail book, is that it's got you keen gardeners covered, too. Take your mixology to another level by actually learning how to grow your own unique cocktail ingredients. These days, sustainable and locally-sourced elements are of big focus for mixologists, as we try to adapt the cocktail industry to the climate. Stay ahead of the pack by reading this alternative cocktail book.
Why read it? As cocktail recipe books go, this isn't your standard read making it definitely worth a place on our top list.
6. Meehan's Bartender Manual – Jim Meehan
Our second to last recommendation is another James Beard's Book of the Year award winner. Meehan is a well-respected bar expert and offers you special access to his own take on bartending, as well as different insights from other industry leaders.
Through reading this bar book you'll get more than tasty modern cocktails and Meehan's own recipes, it's an extensive look into bartending in general. Setting up your bar, creating menus and hospitality are just some of the added extras you'll learn. One of the best things is that it's suitable for the professional or amateur bartender. This is a book to really set yourself up for wider success as a bartender.
Why read it? There's over 100 recipes in this bartender book of recipes and even more intimate knowledge to discover. Put this on your 'must read' list!
7. The Bartender’s Bible – Gary Regan
Our last book on the list is this encyclopedia of bartending, The Bartender's Bible. No, seriously it's extensive!
Written by world famous drinks guru and bartender, Gary Regan, it's a complete guide into being a bartender. There are 1001 cocktail recipes to be learned, as well as drinks categories, methods and some top advice! For us, this makes it one of the best bartending books for beginners. With the help of 'Gaz' (he likes to be called that), you can give yourself a leg up in the world of bartending and learn from the best.
Maybe you want to make delicious cocktails for your friends at a cocktail party? Or perhaps you're midway through developing in your bartending career? It won't matter with this book. It's applicable to everyone and you can never do enough reading!
Why read it? Knowledge is power, so pick up a book and better yourself!
The final verdict
So, we've given you 7 of the best bartender books out there - but you want the very best of the best? Fine, we can do that...
For the beginner bartender: The Bartender’s Bible
We won't go over old news but this book really is a great bartending book for beginners. Written by a veteran, you'll be getting the best possible advice.
You can't be a good bartender just because you know 300 cocktails off by heart, you'll also need to know about service, cocktail history and bar management, for example. It's these added details that separates the good from the best. Give yourself a head start and choose this book on bartending if you're just starting out.
The professional bartender: Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1862
So, you know how to make your modern classics. You keep up-to-date with the latest bartending trends. Good for you! Your bartending career is certainly coming along but it's missing one thing... history.
The Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide of 1862 is a fantastic opportunity to expand your knowledge and take things back to an era unimaginable for all of us. Becoming a leader in the industry requires understanding of the good ol' days. This cocktail book is excellent to refine your expertise, even if it's already extensive! Going back to the root recipes also provides an opportunity to get creative and maybe make the next world-famous cocktail?
If you're a professional bartender, then this one is a necessity!
The mixologist: The Drunken Botanist
For aspiring mixologists, The Drunken Botanist is the perfect book for you!
Understanding ingredients and how they interact with each other is key as you're a scientist of drinks. As cocktail books go, it's rare to find one with such opportunity to grow... and that's not a pun about the 'growing your own ingredients' section!
Amy Stewart will take you on a deep dive into the 'craft of the cocktail' and all of its aspects. Pick up this book and start making your own amazing recipes...
The indie bartender: Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails
Being an indie bartender can be a struggle. No one understands you and no one 'speaks' to you. But we do!
What's more alternative in the cocktail world than the unique Tiki cocktail culture? Tiki is back on the up but they're complicated to make. This encyclopedia of Tiki knowledge is going to get you creating flavour-packed symphonies with rums, syrups and fruit juice in no time.
Tiki requires its own special attention and just because someone is a professional bartender doesn't mean they can make a delicious tiki cocktail. Stand out in this unique area of bartending by becoming a tiki master!
Other book suggestions
Just before you go, we thought we'd add just one more book worth knowing about...
EBS International Bartender Course Handbook
Finally, we wanted add our own bartender book...
Here at European Bartender School, we know a thing or two about bartending (if the name didn't already give it away). We know it so well, that we've written our own guide with the help of top industry experts.
Have a read through this book and you'll be getting high quality, comprehensive content. Not only will you get classic cocktail recipes in their purest form, but also advice on bartender responsibilities, spirits, liqueurs and other alcohols. All of this is to leave you feeling well-prepared for life as a bartender upon completing this little red book.
This isn't just another cocktail book, listing off recipe after recipe, it is a bartender handbook that provides an holistic approach to bartending, which we believe is fundamental to learning the art, well.
So, if you're wondering how to get your mitts on a copy, only a select few can get access to it. To be part of the exclusive club of IBC Handbook owners, you'll need to partake in our 4-week bartender course.
Master bartending through both reading and practicing.