The best books about bourbon

1 authors have picked their favorite books about bourbon and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Bourbon is My Comfort Food

By Heather Wibbels,

Book cover of Bourbon is My Comfort Food: The Bourbon Women Guide to Fantastic Cocktails at Home

When I want answers to my cocktail questions, I turn to Heather Wibbels, aka The Cocktail Contessa. What exactly is a “dash,” the least precise of ingredient measurements? Wibbels has worked out that eight drops equal a dash. No more over-bittered Manhattans! Her passion for cocktail making started when she joined the Bourbon Women Association, a group promoting the culture and enjoyment of American whiskey. After winning BW’s Not-Your-Pink-Drink cocktail contest three years in a row and being made the contest’s head judge, she was obviously the perfect person to write this cocktail manual and compilation of hers and other Bourbon Women’s recipes to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary. All the classics are here as well as creative variations such as The Banana Bread Old Fashioned and Black Licorice Manhattan. 


Who am I?

I’m a spirits writer, educator, and judge specializing in bourbon and other American whiskeys based in Louisville, Kentucky. I have authored or co-authored six books on bourbon (including two bourbon cocktail books) and among the publications for which I am a regular contributor are Bourbon+ (where I focus on the biology and chemistry of whiskey making) and American Whiskey Magazine, for which I write whiskey tasting notes and ratings. I am also the past president of The Bourbon Women Association. When I am not writing or conducting private, customized bourbon tastings, I present seminars at bourbon festivals and other bourbon events around the United States.  


I wrote...

Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

By Peggy Noe Stevens, Susan Reigler,

Book cover of Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

What is my book about?

Every time my co-author, Peggy Noe Stevens (who, by the way, was the first female master bourbon taster) and I have conducted bourbon tastings, often with cocktails and food pairings, we have been asked by participants, “How do we do this at home?” Our answer was this book.

It’s a guide to bourbon-centric entertaining, from setting up your bar to recipes for bourbon-friendly dishes, and cocktails (both individual and batched). For anyone wanting to take a deep dive into tasting, we devote two chapters about decerning flavors in bourbons and pairing bourbon with foods. To welcome guests with true Kentucky hospitality, we have chapters on hosting a Kentucky Derby Party and on how historic distilleries entertain. Both natives of the Bluegrass State, we even include some family recipes. You will want to marinate your beef tenderloin in bourbon and pop popcorn in bacon fat.

The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide

By Sharon Tyler Herbst,

Book cover of The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide

This book sits on the easy-to-access shelf right next to my desk. With over 1,000 entries – drink recipes, definitions, bar equipment – it is a handy quick reference guide. The cocktail recipes even include an icon depicting appropriate glassware. It’s especially useful for looking up somewhat obscure ingredients. I’ll admit I didn’t know what Friesengeist was. The Herbsts give the pronunciation [FREET-zhen-gighst] and the definition, “A potent LIQUEUR from Germany. See also MINT-FLAVORED SPIRITS.” The capitalizations are cross-references. Peppered throughout the text are notable quotes, including this one from the great Julia Child, “Forget the cheap white wine; go to beef and gin!”


Who am I?

I’m a spirits writer, educator, and judge specializing in bourbon and other American whiskeys based in Louisville, Kentucky. I have authored or co-authored six books on bourbon (including two bourbon cocktail books) and among the publications for which I am a regular contributor are Bourbon+ (where I focus on the biology and chemistry of whiskey making) and American Whiskey Magazine, for which I write whiskey tasting notes and ratings. I am also the past president of The Bourbon Women Association. When I am not writing or conducting private, customized bourbon tastings, I present seminars at bourbon festivals and other bourbon events around the United States.  


I wrote...

Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

By Peggy Noe Stevens, Susan Reigler,

Book cover of Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

What is my book about?

Every time my co-author, Peggy Noe Stevens (who, by the way, was the first female master bourbon taster) and I have conducted bourbon tastings, often with cocktails and food pairings, we have been asked by participants, “How do we do this at home?” Our answer was this book.

It’s a guide to bourbon-centric entertaining, from setting up your bar to recipes for bourbon-friendly dishes, and cocktails (both individual and batched). For anyone wanting to take a deep dive into tasting, we devote two chapters about decerning flavors in bourbons and pairing bourbon with foods. To welcome guests with true Kentucky hospitality, we have chapters on hosting a Kentucky Derby Party and on how historic distilleries entertain. Both natives of the Bluegrass State, we even include some family recipes. You will want to marinate your beef tenderloin in bourbon and pop popcorn in bacon fat.

American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye

By Clay Risen,

Book cover of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

Clay Risen is a writer for the New York Times with an immense passion for whiskey and its history. It was he who broke the news that the famed Jack Daniels learned whiskey-making from an African American. Risen’s American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye is exactly what it bills itself as—a guide, and an incredibly useful one to the consumer. Risen provides a short history of whiskey in America, but most of the book provides advice. He helps readers make sense of the jargon used in the whiskey world, such as “straight bourbon,” “Tennessee whiskey,” and “white whiskey”. The book carries 300 reviews of American whiskeys, and its modest dimensions make it easy for the shopper to tuck under one’s arm. Don’t go whiskey shopping without it! 


Who am I?

I am the author of two books on distilled spirits and have been blogging at AlcoholReviews.com since 1998. I have written about drinks, drinks history, and drinks politics for the New York Times and the American Spectator magazine. Whiskey is my favorite distilled spirit—there are so many fantastic types and brands of it. For consumers, it can be really bewildering to navigate. So, I take it as my duty to help people navigate the wide and wild world of whiskey!


I wrote...

Whiskey: A Global History

By Kevin R. Kosar,

Book cover of Whiskey: A Global History

What is my book about?

Whiskey: A Global History introduces readers to the various types of whiskey, including bourbon, Canadian whiskey, corn whiskey, rye, Irish whiskey, Scotch, single malts, and blends. The book explains the drink’s often crazy history, from its obscure medieval origins to the globally traded product that it is today.

Whiskey: A Global History also recommends some great brands and classic cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader.

The Drunken Botanist

By Amy Stewart,

Book cover of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks

Quick, name a beverage that has not been derived from or flavored by a plant? Not surprisingly, only water and milk leap to mind. Bestselling author Stewart delves into the natural history and cultivation of scores of plant species with witty and authoritative accounts of how they have been used in coffee, tea, all manner of spirits, wine, and beer. Cocktail recipes are included throughout as well as invaluable cultural context. I loved the bit about sorghum-based baijiu which figured in Nixon’s famous China trip. – “Alexander Haig had sampled the beverage during an advance visit and cabled…’Under no repeat no circumstances should the President actually drink from his glass in response to the banquet toasts.’” 


Nixon drank it anyway. Impressive since Dan Rather said it tasted “like liquid razor blades.” 


Who am I?

I’m a spirits writer, educator, and judge specializing in bourbon and other American whiskeys based in Louisville, Kentucky. I have authored or co-authored six books on bourbon (including two bourbon cocktail books) and among the publications for which I am a regular contributor are Bourbon+ (where I focus on the biology and chemistry of whiskey making) and American Whiskey Magazine, for which I write whiskey tasting notes and ratings. I am also the past president of The Bourbon Women Association. When I am not writing or conducting private, customized bourbon tastings, I present seminars at bourbon festivals and other bourbon events around the United States.  


I wrote...

Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

By Peggy Noe Stevens, Susan Reigler,

Book cover of Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?: Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinners, and Cocktail Parties

What is my book about?

Every time my co-author, Peggy Noe Stevens (who, by the way, was the first female master bourbon taster) and I have conducted bourbon tastings, often with cocktails and food pairings, we have been asked by participants, “How do we do this at home?” Our answer was this book.

It’s a guide to bourbon-centric entertaining, from setting up your bar to recipes for bourbon-friendly dishes, and cocktails (both individual and batched). For anyone wanting to take a deep dive into tasting, we devote two chapters about decerning flavors in bourbons and pairing bourbon with foods. To welcome guests with true Kentucky hospitality, we have chapters on hosting a Kentucky Derby Party and on how historic distilleries entertain. Both natives of the Bluegrass State, we even include some family recipes. You will want to marinate your beef tenderloin in bourbon and pop popcorn in bacon fat.

Imbibe!

By David Wondrich,

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

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.


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.

New book lists related to bourbon

All book lists related to bourbon

Bookshelves related to bourbon