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13 Best Bartending Books: Recipes and Guides

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

Books for beginners, books for old hands, books for enthusiasts looking for recipes, bartending books for every occasion!

Each year, hundreds of books are published with their own take on cocktail recipes, bartending practices, and more. It’s the same with books to help you learn about wine. It can be difficult to find the books that offer the best bang for your buck.

We've collected 13 of the best bartending books on the market for you below. Whether you're learning how to become a bartender or are already a world-class sommelier, there's a book for you!

Best Bartending Books Overall

Meehan's Bartender Manual

Meehan's Bartender Manual

Jim Meehan's James Beard award-winning book is the bible of the bartending community. Meehan's magnum opus explores the modern bar industry from the inside out and features insights from across the globe. It is the go-to book for anyone interested in bartending and mixology. It includes chapters on cocktail history, bar design, mixing techniques, and more. Bartending lingo is also included if you're interested in the 86 meaning.You can even find 100 recipes for drinks every bartender should know. They're all pulled from Meehan's own career with explanations as to why he makes them the way he does. Whether you're a professional looking to take your career to the next level or an enthusiastic amateur, this book should be on your shelf.

The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails

The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails

This James Beard award-nominated book is much more than a set of 1,000 recipes. Author Mittie Hellmich shares essential bartending how-tos for bartenders. These include the correct tools to use, how to mix drinks properly, and which glasses you should use for each drink. The book also features a number of high-quality illustrations that make it an easier and more enjoyable read. If you're looking for a solid, all-around book on bartending and drink recipes, this is a great choice. With all the new recipes at your fingertips, you might need to pick up some more well liquor to keep up.

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender

Our third pick for best overall bartending books comes from renowned mixologist, Dale DeGroff. It tackles the history of mixology, the best tools and ingredients to use, and tips to master important techniques. DeGroff's book features anecdotes and personal experiences that help keep the book feeling too clinical. It even has beautiful color photographs of popular cocktail recipes and a striking design that set it apart from many other books on the market. If you're looking for a bartending book that has the feel of a well-written cookbook, look no further.

Best Bartender Recipe Book

The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft

The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft

Gary Regan's 2003 classic cocktail guide has been revised and updated for its 15th anniversary to great effect. The recipes have had some interesting changes added and there's plenty of information regarding the drink-making revival of the past decade. Regan, the "most-read cocktail expert around" also shares his renowned system for categorizing drinks. It helps bartenders not only remember drink recipes but also invent their own. It's our best recipe book not because it has the most popular cocktails. It's because they are the tastiest, most thoroughly vetted and modified recipes around. This is a book by a master of mixology that may be the only cocktail reference you need.

The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions

The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions

Whether you're a bartender or a drink enthusiast, the Art of Mixology offers recipes you'll love. From classics like the Mai Tai or Cosmopolitan to lesser-known drinks like the Last Mango in Paris, there's a recipe for everyone. The book is packed with more than 200 recipes, separated into sections by types of alcohol like gin & vodka, rum, whiskies, and brandy. Even better, they all have beautifully shot photos, so you know what you'll be getting. It's the perfect gift for the cocktail lover in your life, or to round out your bar's drink offerings.

How to Cocktail: Recipes and Techniques for Building the Best Drinks

How to Cocktail: Recipes and Techniques for Building the Best Drinks

This comprehensive cocktail guide from America's Test Kitchen is more than just a recipe book. Based on their own tests and experiments, this drink guide shares drink recipes with ideal ingredient proportions and best mixing techniques. Each drink even has a section explaining why the ingredients are in the drink and why it works. Plus, the book is absolutely gorgeous with some of the best drink and step-by-step photography in the business. If you're looking for the perfect drinks to add to your menu and upsell, you'll find what you need here.

Best Bartenders Guide Book

Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail

Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail

Dave Arnold's 2015 James Beard award winner for Best Beverage Book marries bartending with science to create a masterpiece. From topics like the ideal ice cube shape to cocktail acidity to new-age techniques like using liquid nitrogen, the book covers it all. Bartenders looking to up their game and become master mixologists can learn a lot from this book. The recipes and techniques can take an average drink and make it special. Which in turn means more business and higher profit margins. Give the book a read and see what you can implement in your own bar.

Bartender's Guide: An A to Z Companion to All Your Favorite Drinks

Bartender's Guide: An A to Z Companion to All Your Favorite Drinks

This classic bartending book from John K. Waters is a comprehensive guide to the profession. It offers step-by-step mixing instructions, mixology term definitions, and a complete liquor index. Not to mention more than 2,000 drink recipes for the expansive mind. If you've got club soda on hand and you're not sure what drink to mix, you'll have more than enough options here. This is a bartender's guide through-and-through. If you're looking for a simple cocktail guide for parties, you're looking at the wrong book. If you're looking to become a better bartender, expand your knowledge, and grow revenue, then you've found the book you need.

Best Bartending Books for Beginners

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

Our top pick for beginners comes from renowned bartender and cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This technique-driven cocktail and bartender book breaks the complicated world of mixology down into an easy-to-understand guide. The book features more than 60 cocktail recipes illustrated with how-to photography to make it even easier to replicate yourself. Juicing, garnishing, chilling, and more are also covered. It is a must-read book for the beginning and at-home bartender. You can even learn the basics, like what is 1 part.

The Drunken Botanist

The Drunken Botanist

If you've ever wondered how plants became alcoholic beverages, Amy Stewart's book has got you covered. Hailed by the New York Times as the "essential, bestselling guide to botany and booze", this book takes a novel approach to bartending. Biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology all come together in a fascinating and informational guide that beginners will love. It comes with more than 50 drink recipes and even tips for gardeners to grow their own ingredients. It is one of the most unique books on the market, jam-packed with information. You will make yourself the most popular guest at any cocktail party once you read this book.

Bartending For Dummies

Bartending For Dummies

The "For Dummies" series has one purpose, to make complicated subjects easy to understand. They certainly achieve that with this book. The book features more than 1,000 drink recipes in an A-Z format with clear, easy-to-follow instructions. It also outlines how to stock a bar, what glassware to use, how to make frozen drinks or freeze wine, and even how to cure a hangover. Once you're done with this book, you won't feel like a dummy anymore and you'll be ready to make drinks like a pro.

Best Free Bartending Books

Successful Bar Management

Successful Bar Management

The best free bartending book on the market is BinWise's own bar management eBook. Our team has a passion and comprehensive understanding of the bar industry and the challenges bartenders face. Our 91-page digital download covers a range of topics for the burgeoning bartender. These include bartender roles and responsibilities, how to count pours and free pour, the various types of liquor, and the tools you'll use. All the steps in our bartender’s guide should help you learn how to become a bartender and become the master of your craft.

BinWise’s Big Book of Easy and Profitable Cocktails

BinWise's Big Book of Easy and Profitable Cocktails

Surprise! We have a second free eBook that every bartender should read. It’s filled to the brim with the most important and delicious cocktails. Whether you’re looking for  earthy spring cocktails, refreshing summer cocktails, rich fall cocktails, or even some fun Christmas cocktail recipes, we’ve got you covered. These are the recipes our own team uses, so you know they’ve been thoroughly tested and approved.

Tend to Your Knowledge

Bartending books hold the key to a vast array of knowledge that would take years to acquire organically. You may be so interested that you even want to attend alcohol server training.

A good selection of bartending books can help you master the craft, either as a professional or an enthusiast. If you run a bar, you can learn how to increase restaurant sales from many of them. Just make sure to use good recipe costing so you make the most off of these drinks. They also make the perfect shelf decorations and conversation starters for when you host your next gathering.

Just make sure you have mastered the basics like the standard pour, so you can back up your new knowledge with advanced stuff like aphrodisiac drinks. You can even watch a sommelier documentary if you're so inclined.


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