Personal Interests

My Mixology Bookshelf

I’ve got a bookshelf full of cocktail books but there’s only a few that use regularly.


The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails

  • Author: Tony Abou-Ganim
  • Level: Beginner on up
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Pure Joy, page 157

The Modern Mixologist was the first the book I bought which was very fortuitous. Tony Abou-Ganim’s recipes are both wonderful and straight forward. He uses mostly easy to find bottles and ingredients there are few complicated infusions. Abou-Ganim’s descriptions are engaging. And while it’s a great first book, I recommend it all cocktail enthusiasts since the recipes are delicious.

Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined

  • Author: Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Mata Hari, page 102

Speakeasy is my favorite cocktail book which is not surprising since “Employee’s Only” is my favorite bar. The book is chock full of fantastic recipes. Employee’s Only style strikes the right balance between wonderful drinks and reasonable preparations. Some of the best drinks require infusions but none are too finicky. I’ve had the pleasure of trying many of my favorites both in that the bar and my home version. Some bars have large and rotating menus so what you see in the book isn’t still being served but with Employee’s Only, the recipes in the book are the core of what they still serve at the bar. If you are serious about your cocktails, this is a must have.

Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki

  • Author: Martin Cate & Rebecca Cate
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Hibiscus Rum Punch, page 176

Smuggler’s Cove is my bible for tiki drinks. I love the bar and the book captures both the spirit and the tastes of the bar. To make full use of the book, you’ll need to build a up a decent size rum collection. Cate categories rums into eight numbered categories and each recipe refers to a rum category rather than a specific bottle. Some categories are used more than others so with 4-6 bottles of run, you’ll be able cover most of the categories. If you enjoy tiki drinks, this book is a must have.

Additional Recommendations

Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails

  • Author: David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald & Alex Day
  • Level: Pretty Serious
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Flor De Jerez, page 107

Death & Co, both the book as well as the bar invoke some mixed feelings for me. The book has a lot going for it. Many of the drinks are both stellar and innovative. The book also has a great treatment of how to create your own custom recipes. However, many recipes call for exotic bottles. You’ll need to have a large liquor cabinet to take full advantage this book. I learned a tremendous amount from the book, but it’s not a go-to for me as most of the recipies take significant preparation.

The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual: Secret Recipes and Barroom Tales from Two Belfast Boys Who Conquered the Cocktail World

  • Author: Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry & Ben Schaffer
  • Level: Advanced
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Alhambra Royal, page 111

The Dead Rabbit is both a cocktail history lesson and a recipe book rolled into one. Almost every recipe is quite challenging as it asks for a combination of exotic bottles, custom tinctures or a syrup (often referred to as sherbert). If you persevere, you’ll be rewarded with deeply complex drinks that connect to cocktail history. This is a book to buy when you want to challenge your mixology skills.

Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus

  • Author: Scott Beattie
  • Level: Serious Commitment
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: ??? (I’ll let you know once I succeeded in making some of these)

Artisanal Cocktails is the bar book from Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg. Sadly, Cyrus closed in 2012. Both the bar and the restaurant were exceptional. Visiting the bar at Cyrus was a turning point for me with cocktails. I’d always enjoyed them but Cyrus showed me how wonderful they can be. I’d learned about the bar at Cyrus from an episode of Gourmet’s Diary of Foodie and was wowed when I went.

Cyrus is the other side of the same coin as Dead Rabbit. While Dead Rabbit is steeped in history and tradition, Cyrus is all about seasonal and incredibly fresh ingredients. Their recipes both take commitment to use but it’s very of a very different sort. The ingredients from Cyrus cocktails that are hard to find are all the fresh ones. Five years after the buying the book, I’m still on the hunt for yuzu & verjuice, and have found neither.

Aside from a handful classic recipes in the book, each drink will be a serious commitment to finding or maybe even to growing ingredients. Judging from my several visits to the Cyrus bar, the results will be amazing but they will not come easily.  But since there are no time machines, the only way to experience the magic of Cyrus’ cocktails, is to dig and make one of these recipes.

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