I know it’s only May, but this year has already seen an amazing number of quality cocktail books. From bartenders around the world, my list of books was getting so good, I had to share it with you. Now, just to be clear, I am not the kind of person who likes clutter around my house. If I get a physical book, I will read it and then immediately donate it to the library. However, cocktail books are different. (Here are my favorites from the last two years.) I want to read them, mark my favorite recipes, and come back to them over time. Maybe it’s all this being inside lately, but I am really excited about all these new cocktail books.
Since this is my list, I get to make the rules. Books with publish dates between the fourth quarter of 2019 through releasing in the third quarter of 2020 are eligible. Let’s dive into what I think are the best cocktail books of the year!
Newish Cocktail Books – Released in late 2019
Great Northern Cocktails by Shawn Soole
I recently started following Shawn on Instagram. Since I can’t travel to Canada at the moment, I’ve been traveling virtually by researching where I want to check out when I get there. Shawn has an Instagram account featuring British Columbia’s distilleries and spirits. So, it was a natural account for me to follow. I saw in a post that he published a cocktail book last year.
When I think of Canadian cocktails, I definitely only come up with the Bloody Caesar. While that drink is very good, as it lacks the horseradish found in a Bloody Mary, Canada has more than that going for it. Great Northern Cocktails introduces readers to bar talent from coast to coast and includes 140+ cocktail recipes. It also covers some syrups, tinctures, and infusions to try. Sounds pretty good, eh? (Haha, sorry, I had to!)
The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks by Stephen Lyman and Chris Bunting
Ever since our trip to Japan in October 2016, I’ve wanted to go back. Even though we were there for almost two weeks, it wasn’t enough. At the time we visited, I was only just getting into appreciating craft cocktails, so I missed out on most of the famed bars. (We hit a few great spots in Kyoto though!) We took a sampler approach to the drinking culture and visited a sake distillery, a beer bar, and tried some great whiskeys as well.
I saw some buzz about The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks on social media and added it to my list. Since then, it’s been nominated for a James Beard Award and won a 2020 Gourmand Cookbook Award for Japan. The book celebrates the rich culture of brewing, distilling, and cocktails in Japan. Another element I like about the book is that it includes a bar and buyer’s guide in the back so that readers around the world can find the spirits and Japanese-style cocktails closer to home.
Best New Cocktail Books Released in 2020
Camp Cocktails by Emily Vikre
We normally go camping every Memorial Day weekend with my husband’s family. In preparation for this year’s trip I was excited to see that a new camping-themed cocktail book was coming out in February! While the trip got canceled, this book has given me something fun to read and dream about future trips. Camp Cocktails makes my list of the best cocktail books of 2020 because it’s more than just how to make cocktails outdoors. It reads like a story that includes tools, packing tips, and recipes for different levels of roughing it. From backpacking to car camping to glamping, this book has you covered. I also love that it’s written by an incredible woman who owns a distillery, that I visited, in Minnesota. Even if you’re not into camping, if you’ve ever wanted to make drinks on the go or to learn to forage for ingredients, you’ll want to add this book to your collection!
Sophistication Declassified by Morten Krag
If you love gorgeous photography, you need to be following Morten Krag on Instagram. After following his account for a few weeks, you’ll probably want to grab a copy of his new cocktail book, Sophistication Declassified. Playing off his former life in the Danish Air Force, Morten shares 25 recipes in the book. Even if you’re not much of a home bartender, the photography alone is worth adding to your coffee table.
Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival by Chloe Frechette
I know judging a book by its cover is technically frowned upon, but in the case of Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival, it’s a great thing. From the Senior Editor of the online magazine PUNCH, comes a celebration of tiki. If you’ve ever looked at a tiki drink recipe, you might have been overwhelmed, as many of the classics require eight or more ingredients. And not necessarily things you have on hand. This cocktail book refines 60 classic tiki recipes into versions that are easier to make at home.
As tiki culture continues its revival in popularity, you will be very chic if you are able to offer your guests a proper tropical drink this summer. This cocktail book also offers incredible background and history of tiki that you can use to impress your friends. For many of us dreaming of places far away, a drink might be the easiest way to go!
Speaking of travel-by-cocktail, this book is another virtually transporting read. Spirits of Latin America is brand new, it just released today in fact, to much fanfare. I’ve come across several interviews, articles, and Instagram take-overs that have featured the author in the past few weeks. This only makes me more excited to read this book from Ivy Mix, the award-winning co-owner of Leyenda and co-founder of Speed Rack.
While I do enjoy spirits from around the world, I would say that my favorites primarily originate in Latin America. From tequila to mezcal, rum to pisco, there are so many flavors to explore along with the rich Latin heritage. This book brings you to places you’ve only dreamed of through more than 100 recipes. Another intriguing aspect of the book is that it follows the sugar trail and takes you from the Caribbean to Bolivia, and everywhere in between. A very easy pick for the best cocktail books of 2020 list!
From the title alone, I love this book. Cocktails don’t have to be fussy or intimidating, which I hope you know already. (If you’re still figuring things out, this post is for you.) Drink What You Want is a nonjudgemental approach to making cocktails. The author, John deBary, is an experienced bartender with a great personality. Working in some of the best bars in New York City, John breaks down cocktails in a fun, conversational manner. The book features gorgeous illustrations and the science of mixology. Cheers!
I’ve been pushing myself to try some more complex cocktails lately, but sometimes you just want something simple. After following Amy on Instagram for awhile, I have already learned a lot from her. Amy blogs as the Moody Mixologist and offers her readers some incredible advice on everything from edible flowers to how to to make citrus garnishes. And now she’s written a cocktail book that comes out in early June.
Featuring 75 recipes, Essential 3-Ingredient Cocktails will have you sipping something delicious in no time. The book is organized by spirit and features a wide range of drinks sure to please you and your guests. After trying out several of Amy’s recipes that she shared on Instagram, I can say you will not be disappointed by this book.
Beautiful Booze: Stylish Cocktails to Make at Home by Natalie Migliarini and James Stevenson
While a pandemic is nothing you would wish on anyone, it has brought new virtual friends into my life. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a couple of Natalie’s recipes show up in my Stories. Looking for amazing cocktails and fun live happy hours? You need to be following Beautiful Booze.
Coming in late August, you’ll be able to hold a copy of Beautiful Booze in your hands. Featuring delicious recipes and really incredible photography, this book is bound to delight. I’ve been putting the Aperol Margarita in heavy rotation now that the weather has started to warm up. Natalie lives life on the road and brings adventure wherever she goes. Looking forward to checking this book out!
And there you have my list of the best cocktail books in 2020! I know there are more exciting launches to be announced, or that I might have missed. Feel free to drop in any in the comments below. Cheers!