8 Cocktail Books For The Aspiring Bartender

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A good cocktail is a work of art and no matter where you go in the world, there is a good chance that the locals have a preferred style of drinking. Although the popularity of cocktails took a dive in the 1960s, they’ve come back stronger than ever.

Since the Cocktail Renaissance took off in the 1990s, there have been innumerable classics created, showcasing local and global spirits alike. We’ve rounded up some guides to the best cocktail scenes in the country. So sit back, relax and get ready to try out a new recipe. Your new favorite is sure to be hidden in one of the books below. Cheers!

Fill your glass with…

Whether you’re looking for something new and refreshing, or a new twist on an old favorite, check out these decadent histories, each with a companion recipe card pack to help boost your bartending skills!

Bay Area Cocktails by Shanna Farrell

Cover image for Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft

An American invention, the cocktail fluctuated in popularity following Prohibition and had firmly taken root in the culinary landscape by the 1990s. The Bay Area played a significant role in reviving it—as much as New York and London. This is the story of how the Bay Area shaped the art of elevated drinking in America. Through oral history interviews and recipes, author Shanna Farrell chronicles the narrative history of the modern cocktail renaissance. You can find this book here! Check out the recipe cards here!

New Mexico Cocktails by Greg Mays

Cover image for New Mexico Cocktails

New Mexico may appear to be the land of Margaritas, but its distilleries and historic cocktails are complex enough to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Cowboys and banditos alike drank their way to infamy. Prohibition drinkers masked spirits with cocktails at local joints like the legendary speakeasy of Santa Fe that was so secret, it had no name. Mays explores a boozy history spiked with over 100 simple recipes for the home bartender. You can find this book here! Check out the recipe cards here!

Forgotten Maryland Cocktails by Gregory Priebe & Nicole Priebe

Cover image for Forgotten Maryland Cocktails: A History of Drinking in the Free State

The Southside, Diamondback and the Preakness—Marylanders imbibe history in their native cocktails, from local favorites to little-known classics. During the golden age of the cocktail, grand hotels like Baltimore’s Belvedere created smooth concoctions such as the Frozen Rye. Greg and Nicole Priebe stir up historic recipes with modern twists from renowned mixologists, mixing one part practical guide and three parts history. You can find this book here! Check out the recipe cards here!

Spirits & Cocktails of Upstate New York by Don Cazentre

Cover image for Spirits and Cocktails of Upstate New York

From the Hudson Valley to the Niagara River, Upstate New York has a long and grand history of spirits and cocktails. In the 1800s, a fanciful story of a tavern keeper and a “cock’s tail” took root along the Niagara River, and the earliest definition of the “cocktail” appeared in a Hudson Valley paper. Author Don Cazentre serves up these tales of Upstate New York along with more than fifty historic and modern cocktail recipes. You can find this book here! Check out the recipe cards here!

Related: Speakeasies and Secret Lairs: Milwaukee Prohibition

Recipe card for "Saratoga Sunrise as made at the Saratoga Race Course that calls for: 1oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, 1oz white rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine. Instructions include filling a highball glass with ice. Add spiced and white rum. Top with equal parts orange juice. Drizzle with grenadine (to taste). Note: This drink is served on Travers Stakes race day in a 12-oz souvenir glass.
Recipe card for a “Saratoga Sunrise.”

Stir in some…

California Tiki: A History of Polynesian Idols, Pineapple Cocktails and Coconut Palm Trees by Jason Henderson & Adam Foshko

Cover image for California Tiki: A History of Polynesian Idols, Pineapple Cocktails and Coconut Palm Trees

After WWII, suburbs proliferated around California cities as returning soldiers traded in their uniforms for business suits. After-hours leisure activities took on an island-themed sensuality that bloomed from a new fascination with Polynesia and Hawaii. The culture—a  hodgepodge of idols, torches, lush greenery and colorful drinks—beckoned men and women to lose themselves in exotic music and surf tunes. You can find this book here!

Ohio Tiki: Polynesian Idols, Coconut Trees and Tropical Cocktails by Jeff Chenault

Cover image for Ohio Tiki: Polynesian Idols, Coconut Trees, and Tropical Cocktails

Hula girls, palm trees and Tiki gods beckoned Ohioans of the 1950s and ’60s as tropical hot spots sprang up in suburban neighborhoods and concrete jungles alike. The Kon Tiki restaurants of Cleveland and Cincinnati slung rum cocktails to patrons eager for escape to a South Seas paradise. Join author and Tiki veteran Jeff Chenault on an excursion into a bygone era when the South Pacific came to Ohio. You can find this book here!

Garnish with…

Cape Cod Nights by Christopher Setterlund

Cover image for Cape Cod Nights: Historic Bars, Clubs and Drinks

The Cape has been home to hundreds of popular nightclubs and watering holes over the years, featuring such timeless drinks as the Cape Codder and the Sea Breeze. While many famous locales, such as Johnny Yee’s and the Compass Lounge, have closed, other classics like the Beachcomber and the Melody Tent remain. Setterlund  takes a look back at some of the places, music and drinks that have made Cape Cod nightlife sparkle. You can find this book here!

Pittsburgh Drinks by Cody McDevitt and Sean Enright

Cover image for Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife and Bartending Traditions

Pittsburgh’s drinking culture is a story of its people: vibrant, hardworking and innovative. During Prohibition, the Hill District became a center of jazz, speakeasies and creative cocktails.  Today, pioneering mixologists are forging a new and exciting bar revival in the South Side and throughout the city. Pull up a stool and join Cody McDevitt and Sean Enright as they trace the history of Steel City drinking, along with a host of delicious cocktail recipes. You can find this book here!

Still interested in all things alcohol? Check out more Food and Drink titles at arcadiapublishing.com. Bottoms up!