Cocktails: Buy the Book

The essential reading list from Las Vegas’ five-star general of mixology

If you’re looking to take your home-bartending prowess from shaky to stirring, hit the books—these books, as prescribed by world-renowned mixologist, author and mentor to the bar stars Tony Abou-Ganim.
—Xania Woodman

To master the art of cocktail preparation takes much practice and research; it cannot be accomplished in a single season, but must become a lifetime pursuit. Cocktails are more than just recipes and ingredients. There are amazing stories, anecdotes and history surrounding them and those who first mixed them. If you work your way through these books and sample some of the libations contained within the pages you will be well on your way to becoming proficient at the knack of mixing drinks!

1. Market Fresh Mixology, by Bridget Albert. Bridget takes classic recipes and infuses them with fresh, seasonal twists that never arm wrestle with Mother Nature.

2. The Essential Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff. Every bartender has or should have Dale’s wonderful first book, The Craft of the Cocktail. With Essential he gives us a glimpse into the world of classic cocktails while also featuring many of his original creations.

3. Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined, by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. Jason and Dushan take us into their amazing New York saloon, and share with us their journey as well as the bars recipes, both classic and original.

4. Boozehound, by Jason Wilson. Jason writes with great insight and humor and takes the reader on an entertaining trip into the world of spirits, both common but also many lesser known and appreciated.

5. Straight Up or On the Rocks, by William Grimes. This fun and insightful read is an entertaining journey from the cocktail’s early beginnings, into the Golden Age, through Prohibition and Repel and right up to the present … at least up until 1993.

6. The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire, by Linda Himelstein. A wonderfully written and amazingly researched trip from Smirnoff’s early beginning’s in Russia, to its rise to supremacy as one of Russia most prized products, to its fall and near demise to rise again to become the world’s most consumed vodka. Sure to entertain and enlighten.

7. The Martini, by Barnaby Conrad III. The martini is the quintessential cocktail, the one that all others aspire to, and to master it is a true rite of passage. More debates, mystery and lore surround the martini than perhaps any other cocktail. Barnaby delves into the subject with great knowledge and passion. You’re sure to finish with a greater appreciation for this iconic tipple.

Well, if you have made your way through the first seven books and still thirst for more I selfishly hope you will read my book, The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails. Here I attempt to sum up where we began and where we have been along this bartending course, and bring to the reader many of my original recipes, which showcase my 30 years behind bars.

For bartenders interested in stepping up their mixology game, Tony recommends this list:

1. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, by David A. Embury

2. Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, by William Grimes

3. PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy, by Jim Meehan

4. Imbibe!, by David Wondrich

5. The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft, by Gary Regan

6. Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, by Paul Harrington & Laura Moorhead

7. Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas, by Brad Thomas Parsons