Straight Up: Favorite Cocktail Books

Most cocktail recipes are only a Google search away, but nothing beats the slow-paced, tactile pleasures of a good book. This week we’re taking a sentimental journey through some personal (and somewhat idiosyncratic) home-mixology favorites.JOY OF COOKING by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (originally published 1931). This 849-page volume will tell you how to skin a rabbit, kipper a fish, build a “birthday bread horse,” and make celery curls. So naturally it includes a very capable chapter on classic cocktails. (In fact, years ago, our 1968 hand-me-down edition was our mixology bible!). The stylishly retro line drawings of bar glasses add a little instructive flair.

THE SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK by Harry Craddock (1930, revised and updated by Peter Dorelli, 1999).
Originally published in 1930, and still in print today, this attractive volume was written by an American bartender while in Prohibition-era “exile” overseas at London’s Savoy Hotel. Beautiful Deco-era illustrations on thick, smooth paper complement a comprehensive collection of drink recipes.

CALVERT COCKTAIL BOOK (probably 1940s).
This is a sentimental pick. A thrift-store find many years ago, it’s more a pamphlet than a book. But with solemn advice like “for best results we suggest you choose the drink you wish to serve and have all the necessary ingredients in front of you before you begin to mix,” it’s a bit of retro-kitsch fun.

CLASSIC COCKTAILS by Salvatore Calabrese (1997).
First published in the late 1990s during the last “cocktail renaissance,” this pocket-sized volume is a pleasure to use. Period advertising art and fun bits of cocktail lore bring color to 110 classic recipes.

THE JOY OF MIXOLOGY by Gary Regan (2003).
The desert-island pick of the bunch. A comprehensive volume that, when read cover-to-cover, provides a very entertaining armchair course in bartending. Includes a helpful chart of cocktail and mixed-drink “families.” Contains over 350 recipes, including some of the author’s own invention, as well as unlikely modern “punk” classics from the 80s (i.e. Jelly Shots and - well, we won’t name them all here…).

What are your go-to books for cocktail recipes?

(Image: Nora Maynard)

-Nora

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Drinks, Cocktail, Liquor

Nora Maynard is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her recent work has appeared in Salon, Drunken Boat, and The Millions. She recently completed her ninth marathon and her first novel, Burnt Hill Road. Nora wrote for The Kitchn from 2006 to 2011.

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