The best cocktail books for the drinks enthusiast’s library

Who am I?

Cas Oh is a drinks industry veteran and author of the award-winning book CO Specs: Recipes & Histories of Classic CocktailsCO Specs is the product of Cas Oh’s 20+ years behind the bar, mixing drinks, managing teams, and training staff in such notable venues as The Groucho Club and the Hospital Club. Most recently Oh was running the bars at the iconic Ivy Club in London's West End, where he held the tiller for a decade before leaving to finalise the manuscript for CO Specs. Known for his obsessive approach to research and training, his book is the 'one-stop shop' he always wished he'd had.


I wrote...

CO Specs: Recipes & Histories of Classic Cocktails

By Cas Oh,

Book cover of CO Specs: Recipes & Histories of Classic Cocktails

What is my book about?

With tens of thousands of cocktails in existence, how many of those could be considered classic, essential, or even tasty? CO Specs is an A to Z guide to the world’s most popular classic cocktails and distills down to the 200 true classics everyone should know. 

For Bartenders, it's a thorough field manual of all the classics you should know. A one-stop shop. The book Cas wishes he'd had (and spent far too long creating). For the Home Enthusiast - whether you're shaking up a few cocktails after a long day, or mixing something to impress your dinner guests, you'll find all of your favourite cocktails (as well as many gems yet undiscovered) among the CO Specs.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

Cas Oh Why did I love this book?

For any serious bartender, they can classify their experience as before they read Embury, and after. I remember reading this book early on in my career; it changed the way I thought about drinks, and made me realise how deep the rabbit hole can go. This isn’t just a list of recipes, but a deep dive into the basic principles of cocktails and their fundamental components. Published in 1948, one beauty of this book is how opinionated and acerbic the author is. David Embury wasn’t even a bartender, he was a tax attorney who loved making cocktails at home for his guests, and yet deploying his sharp mind and ready wit, he managed to write one of the most influential drinks books of all time.

By David A. Embury, Robert Hess, Audrey Saunders

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New introductions by Audrey Saunders and Robert Hess


Book cover of Here's How Mixed Drinks

Cas Oh Why did I love this book?

Who doesn’t love a wooden book? Seriously, its cover is made of wood, and it’s bound together with cut leather. The internal pages have the tea-stained look of an old pirate map and smell like the very old books you find in the back of a goodwill store. My copy was given to me by Dick Bradsell, inventor of some of the most enduring modern classics such as the Bramble and Espresso Martini. It’s a true gem, not just for the wonderful recipes but for the illustrations — by far the most charming and amusing that you’ll find in any cocktail book. But if you’re getting the impression this book is all hokey-charm and no substance, you’d be very wrong. This is a tight collection of well-presented recipes, a really functional resource, as well as a fun one.

By W.C. Whitfield, Tad Shell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here's How Mixed Drinks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Board (wooden) book with leather tie, 77 pages


Book cover of Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

Cas Oh Why did I love this book?

The sun was shining on the cocktail world the day that David Wondrich — a former English professor with a PhD in comparative literature — decided to step away from his existing vocation and turn his attention on drinks. He’s been hugely influential in the rise of the modern cocktail scene and is considered the foremost authority on the history of mixed drinks, shedding light on the origins of well-known, as well as esoteric libations. Imbibe is a fascinating read. Wondrich’s writing style is extremely engaging, you’ll fly through the book and still be left wanting more.

By David Wondrich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Imbibe! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly updated edition of David Wondrich’s definitive guide to classic American cocktails.

Cocktail writer and historian David Wondrich presents the colorful, little-known history of classic American drinks--and the ultimate mixologist's guide--in this engaging homage to Jerry Thomas, father of the American bar.

Wondrich reveals never-before-published details and stories about this larger-than-life nineteenth-century figure, along with definitive recipes for more than 100 punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, toddies, slings, and other essential drinks, along with detailed historical and mixological notes.
 
The first edition, published in 2007, won a James Beard Award. Now updated with newly discovered recipes and historical information, this…


Book cover of Esquires Handbook for Hosts

Cas Oh Why did I love this book?

Handbook for Hosts is a throwback to a golden era, when dinner parties were an artform. This book covers the whole gamut: everything from canape suggestions, food recipes, cocktail recipes, how to stock your home bar, party games, conversation tips, the dos and don’t of hosting, and even 365 excuses for a party! This is the kind of book they don’t make anymore, but you wish they would. It’s entertaining, insightful, and beautifully formatted. Read this book and you’ll be a dinner party Jedi in no time.

By Inc. (Firm) Esquire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Esquires Handbook for Hosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Original 1949 Edition! L. J. Allen, Illustrator. Contains: "316 tantalizing canape, snack and male slated food recipes; 608 Esquire tested recipes for the happy home bartender; 585 bright entertainment ideas, bar games, hints for hosts. This is the modern guide to hospitality at home." Learn how to throw a hopping party like they did fifty years ago! A must-have for every party giver, Esquire's Handbook for Hosts is a time-honored guide on how to eat, drink and be merry with inimitable style. It offers the secrets of the perfect cocktail party with the tradition, excitement and hosting flair of the…


Book cover of The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft

Cas Oh Why did I love this book?

Among professional bartenders, when asked to name just one book they would recommend you buy, a great many would point you toward Joy of Mixology. One of the first, and still one of the best books covering all aspects of bartending, cocktail history, and the fundamentals of the broader craft.  Chapter headings such as "The Theory of Mixology", "Foundations of the Bar", and "The History of Cocktails", should give you a picture of how comprehensive it is in terms of scope. A great ‘one-stop shop’ for anyone interested in advancing their knowledge of mixed drinks. 

By Gary Regan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Joy of Mixology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thoroughly updated edition of the 2003 classic that home and professional bartenders alike refer to as their cocktail bible.

Gary Regan, the "most-read cocktail expert around" (Imbibe), has revised his original tome for the 15th anniversary with new material: many more cocktail recipes—including smart revisions to the originals—and fascinating information on the drink making revival that has popped up in the past decade, confirming once again that this is the only cocktail reference you need.

A prolific writer on all things cocktails, Gary Regan and his books have been a huge influence on mixologists and bartenders in America. This…


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Book cover of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

Maryka Biaggio Author Of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

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