A brief library of libations.

The Essential Cocktail

By Dale DeGroff

A mixologist’s mixologist, Dale DeGroff earned his reputation during a dozen years behind the Promenande Bar in Manhattan’s Rainbow Room, where he dazzled patrons with his blend of historical knowledge and innovative technique. In this volume, he presents recipes for his 100 essential drinks — and 100 of their most delightful variations. The gold standard for bartenders professional and amateur alike.

Gin: A Global History

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

A new booze-oriented entry in Harvard’s delectable Edible Series (past favorites include Vodka, Rum, Whiskey, and Champagne), this bracing work of history traces the evolution of gin from a juniper-infused elixir administered by apothecaries, to Dutch genever, Prohibition bathtub “gin,” and its apotheosis in the Martini. Along the way, the tipple that’s been dubbed  “blue ruin” and “mother’s milk” sparked one of the earliest known drug crazes and became a hallmark of British imperial culture around the world. Solmonson washes it all down with recipes for fizzes, slings, smashes, and tonics.


By David Wondrich

Jerry Thomas was a nineteenth-century pioneer of the American bar, creating cocktails, punches, sours, and toddies that lived long after the publication of his 1862 Bartender’s Guide. In this James Beard Award-winning book, the foremost historian of the American cocktail pours out Thomas’s story in a lively style ballasted by deep research — and topped off with a sparkling selection of recipes old and new. (To follow Wondrich on his further excursions into the deep past of convivial drinking, you’ll want to read his equally intoxicating Punch.)

Everyday Drinking

By Kingsley Amis

The author of the comic masterpiece Lucky Jim turns his gimlet eye — and vivid prose — to the pleasures (and pains: see “The Hangover”) of drink in this anthology of the best essays, anecdotes, and instructions gleaned from three earlier volumes devoted to desire and pursuit of high spirits. For more on famously bibulous writers, try Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers.


By Brad Thomas Parsons

An essential component of many cocktails, the wide variety of bitters available was for a long period reduced in many places to a single example, the famed Angostura. But the modern cocktail rennaissance has once again stoked demand for bitters in all of their great variety. Parsons chronicles the concentrated mixture’s early reputation as a cure-all and its incorporation as a key element in many enduring drinks, offering instructions for making bitters at home, in flavors that range from Apple to Root Beer.