This article will break down the must-buy book for yourself or a fellow bartender in 2023.
The Bartenders Black Book (10th edition) (also known as the black book bartender guide) by Stephen Kittredge Cunningham is a national bestselling recipe book with over 2000 to choose from.
Looking to up your technique game in 2023? Check out The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique (Cocktail Book with Cocktail Recipes, Mixology Book for Bartending): Elements of Cocktail Technique written by Jeffrey Morgenthaler and photographed by Alanna Hale, makes for a great bartender guide book as well as a coffee table book to be left out year-round.
Goodreads Bartending Recommendations
Goodreads (the world’s largest site for book recommendations) has three bartending books that have a rating of 4.6 (out of five) or higher:
• Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, with More than 500 Recipes by famous trio David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day, is rated 4.60. It’s also a #1 best seller on Amazon in Whiskey. It is a top 100 Barnes and Noble bestseller in Cookbooks, Food & Wine and is a 2022 IACP (The International Association of Culinary Professionals) winner. Thus, making this book the most decorated bartending book on this list.
• Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them by Jeff Beachbum Berry came in with a rating of 4.63.
• Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, has a rating of 4.67 (also an Amazon editor’s pick in Cookbooks, Food, and Wine!).
Hospitality Focused Bartending Recommendations
Suppose you’re looking to up your customer service game and, your tips.
In that case, you can add Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer to your TBR (to be read) list.
Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More than They Expect by Will Guidara was a national bestseller in 2022 (and free with an Audible trial).
Amazon Bartending Book Recommendations
The number one seller on Amazon in the category of Alcoholic Spirits is The Art of Mixology: Classic Cocktails and Curious Concoctions by Parragon Books, which boasts “artisan recipes,” making this a great all-around mixology book.
While Amazon editors recommend in the Best Cookbooks, Food, and Wine category:
- The Bartender’s Manifesto: How to Think, Drink, and Create Cocktails Like a Pro by Toby Maloney, Emma Janzen, and The Bartenders of The Violet Hour. Toby Maloney is a James Beard Award-winning bartender and goes in-depth on creating a balanced and interesting cocktail. Perfect for the veteran bartender in your life.
- A New York Times bestseller, The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart, marries botany and mixology to guide fermentation, flavor, and garnish.
- Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time by James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons asks the question “What would be your last drink?” to famous bartenders across the country, resulting in a 40-recipe book with commentary. (He’s also published Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas and Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas).
- Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails by Shannon Mustipher, an IACP 2020 winner in the Beer, Wine, & Spirits category.
- Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture & Cocktails, with 100 Recipes from Leyenda & Beyond by Ivy Mix, the James Beard Award-nominated bartender, takes a deep dive into the alcohol and drinks that shaped Latin America.
- The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig is a 2022 IACP winner.
- Raising the Bar: A Bottle-by-Bottle Guide to Mixing Masterful Cocktails at Home by Brett Adams and Jacob Grier.
- Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki by Martin Cate and Rebecca Cate take a dedicated look at rum and tiki-style cocktails.
- The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth.
More Amazon Recommendations
An oldie but a goodie is Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold. It won the James Beard Award for Best Beverage Book and IACP Jane Grigson Award in 2015.
If your goal is to improve a refined palette, see The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (#1 best seller on Amazon in professional cooking and top 100 bestsellers at Barnes and Noble in Cookbooks, Food & Wine).
The Cocktail Workshop: An Essential Guide to Classic Drinks and How to Make Them Your Own by Steven Grasse and Adam Erace is also a 2022 IACP winner.
Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks by André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington combines 70 albums with 70 inspired drinks is a Barnes and Noble top 100 bestsellers in Cookbooks, Food & Wine and Amazon #1 bestseller in Music History and Criticism.
If you want to get into classic bartending techniques, you can find a reprint of the 1862 classic Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas. Or check out Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar by James Beard award-winning David Wondrich as he takes the teaching of Jerry Thomas and the history of classic drinks.
Food and Drink Magazines
More Bartending and Cocktail Guidebooks
A 2022 IACP winner, Something and Tonic: A History of the World’s Most Iconic Mixer by Nick Kokonas, looks into tonic’s history and application.
Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle is a top 100 Barnes and Noble bestseller in Cookbooks, Food & Wine for literary and liquor lovers.
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack details wine tasting, pairing, and tips on serving, which is perfect for the aspiring sommelier.
Meehan’s Bartender Manual: [A Cocktail Reference and Recipe Book] by James Meehan is another James Beard Award-winning bartending guidebook. It’s also one of the longest on this list, with 488 pages.
The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft by Gary Regan, published in 2018, is often referred to as a professional bartender’s bible, or you can check out his other 1993 publication, The Bartender’s Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks and Everything You Need to Know to Set Up Your Bar another great beginners guide.
Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd-Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science by Kevin K Liu is a classic (2013) look into the science side of mixology.
Serving Alcohol's Ultimate Bartending Guide Recommendation
For those new to bartending, our partners at Bartending License Help put out a great ebook called The Ultimate Guide To Bartending. The book offers “a step-by-step guide to getting a bartending job, doubling your tips, and starting a profitable career in 30 days or less”. Purchase it and get our Master Bartender course for free!