After being teased a bit on the April Fool’s Day edition of The Erasable Podcast with the ladies of graphite and Brad, I decided I might as well bring my cocktail love and lore out into the open. Because what pairs better with a beautiful fountain pen and journal or a rustic Blackwing and pocket notebook than a well-prepared drink? Absolutely nothing, I say.
Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide
by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick ($9.99 for Kindle, $14.05 for hardback)
When this book popped up in my Amazon recommendations, I knew I needed to add it to my must-reads. First, I love a good cocktail book. And second, I have a soft spot in my heart for Dorothy Parker so it was clearly a match made in heaven. The book combines tidbits about Dorothy Parker, the Algonquin Roundtable, and jazz age slang. Throw in a few simple cocktail recipes I can try out and of course I’ll give it a spin. I picked up a secondhand copy through an Amazon reseller and its now nestled on my cocktail book shelf with Kingsley Amis’s Everyday Drinking, another classic cocktail-and-literary tome that’s in regular circulation on my bookshelf.
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas
by Brad Thomas Parsons ($14.99 for Kindle, $16.65 for hardcover — highly recommend the hardcover book)
Bitters is a beautiful coffee table book full of gorgeous photography printed on uncoated stock giving it a subtle, old-time feel. The book includes information about what bitters are, modern makers of bitters (from legends like Angostura and Peychaud’s to the new smaller bottlers like Fee Brother’s, Scrappy’s, Bitter Cube) and more. There are also lots of cocktail recipes that utilize bitters, and recipes to make your own bitters. This is my husband’s favorite cocktail book and he refers to it at least once a week. If you’re curious about bitters and what they can add to your cocktail bar, I highly recommend it.
Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide
($14.95 for hardcover)
If you have no other cocktail book ever, you should have a copy of Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide. The book is organized by key alcohol component: gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. and then its mixers. It has everything from an elegant martini to a trashy Sex on the Beach. Next to each recipe is an icon of the recommended serving glass: coupe, highball, shot, etc. which is very handy as well.
If you are invited to a wedding and don’t know what gift to get the newlyweds, you can’t go wrong buying a copy of this book. Everyone will need one at some point. If only to settle an argument about what is actually in an Old-Fashioned.
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide
by Sharon Tyler Herbst ($11.99 for Kindle, available used or secondhand through Amazon resellers for $1 or less in paperback)
The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide was one of the first cocktail books I ever purchased and I honestly go back to it time and time again because its such a great reference tool. Its organized alphabetically so if you know you want a recipe for a Sazerac or you are trying to remember exactly what Sloe Gin is, it’s all just organized alphabetically. Its full of cross-references and an indices in the back for drinks by specific liqueur. So, if you still have a bottle of apple brandy and you want to find some recipes that you can try with it, the Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide has a list in the back you can use to find some drinks that use that specific liqueur. Convenient. Next to each drink is an icon for the glass recommended for serving to make it easy to see if its a cocktail, highball, shooter or glass. Our copy is full of sticky notes, dog-eared pages and even a little water damaged. That’s the sign of a well-loved cocktail book.
Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition: A Compendium of Impish, Romantic, Amusing, and Occasionally Appalling Potations from Bygone Eras
by Lesley M. M. Blume ($9.99 for Kindle, $14.47 for hardback)
I’ve been a fan of the whole Let’s Bring Back series that Blume has done so when the Cocktail book was introduced, I had to purchase it as well. The book is full of quaint, vintage artwork and fancy, embellished typography. It features cocktails with names like the Fair Thee Well and the Rhett Butler as well as literary quotes and historical context for where certain cocktails may have originated. The hardback book is lovely and matches the rest of my Let’s Bring Back set so I’m glad to have it included. I enjoy flipping through it and reading various tidbits but its not a book I’ve used as often for making cocktails. I should remedy that soon.
Time to go stock the bar, get out those swizzle sticks and martini shaker, and your favorite writing tools, there’s cocktails to make and recipes to annotate.