Personal Interests

My Mixology Bookshelf, Part 2

In part 1, I reviewed my favorite cocktail books as well as additional recommended books. The is next set is books I also use frequently or have really enjoyed.

Regarding Cocktails

  • Level: Intermediate (but also reached cocktail enlightenment)
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Debbie, Don’t, page 99

Regarding Cocktails sat on my bookshelf without much attention for a good while. Letting this book gather dust was a mistake on my part. This is an absolute treasure of a cocktail book. I was vaguely aware of Sasha Petraske and his groundbreaking bar, Milk and Honey. By the time I had gotten serious about patronizing NYC cocktail bars, Milk and Honey was long since closed so it was more of a legend to me than a real place. Sasha Petraske passed away in 2015 and until I picked up this book my exposure to him was the glowing accounts I read in other cocktail books about how working with him was revolutionary for the author of that book.

Sasha Petraske’s approach is that of chasing and achieving perfection through simplicity. As many mixologists will tell, it’s harder to make a great three-ingredient than a great 10 ingredient cocktail because there’s nowhere to hide anything less than perfect. There are no complicated infusions or syrups here. The emphasis is all on great craft and letting the drink speak for itself. The illustrations in the book at fantastic and visually depict the relative amounts of the ingredients.

This video shows you Sasha Petraske in action making a Bee’s Knees and talking about the genesis of his legendary bar. Milk and Honey was the first modern speakeasy. Being a speakeasy wasn’t purely a stylistic choice but rather a response to the unique circumstances of starting his bar. So many bars followed in the speakeasy mold as a stylistic choice. If Sasha Petraske bar had started in a different location, there might not be 100s of bars modeled as speakeasies.

The Aviary Cocktail Book

  • Author: Nick Kokonas, Allen Hemberger, Grant Achatz
  • Level: For people who enjoy taking their hobbies too far
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: 🤷‍♂️ — I haven’t attempted any

The Aviary Cocktail Book is absolutely gorgeous. It’s beautifully printed and photographed. It’s so nice that I keep it safely in the cardboard box it came in. If you want a beautiful box to keep it safely, spring for the reserve edition. The Aviary’s philosophy is that a drink should be a complete sensory experience. The process to make a drink a complete sensory experience is very complicated, especially for the home bartender. There are many advanced techniques such as spherification in the book. Many of the techniques need special equipment. Making any of the drinks is a major undertaking where you will be hunting down special ingredients and learning new techniques.

In many ways, the philosophies of the Aviary and Sasha Petraske are complete opposites. They are both chasing perfection but one through complexity and the other through simplicity. The Aviary as a bar is a fantastic experience. I went to the NYC outpost once and would very happily go back. You’ll have to be extremely committed to making these drinks at home. Buying the book was worthwhile for me to learn about the techniques. But it’s not a practical guide for the home bartender. That said, I’m incredibly impressed with The Aviary At Home which is the website of one amateur mixologist who has taken on the challenge of making all the recipes from the book. He’s done 16 so far and reading his accounts is a great way to learn what’s involved in making one of these drinks at home.

Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean

  • Author: Jeff Barry
  • Level: Advanced
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Zombie, page 179

Jeff “Beachbum” Barry is one of the world’s premier experts on Tiki drinks. He’s found countless lost recipes. Potions of the Caribbean is a great history of tropical drinks. I particularly enjoyed all the historical photographs and images of the vintage cocktail menus. The book has many vintage cocktail recipes. These recipes are all the classical versions and this book doesn’t give guidance on which currently available rums to use to make them. As such, if you are looking for a practical guide for making drinks at home, Smuggler’s Cover is a better choice. This book is fantastic if you want to dive into the history of tropical drinks.

The Canon Cocktail Book

  • Author: Jamie Boudreau
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Cherry Blossom, page 80

Canon is a whiskey-focused bar so many of the recipes a whiskey focused. Many of the recipes aren’t overly complex and thus many are quite doable in a home bar. Boudreau is an Old Fashioned enthusiast and a section of the book is Old Fashioned recipes. I made the fairly involved Old Fashioned syrup and tried out the Old Fashioned recipes. My syrup didn’t come out quite right but the resulting Old Fashioneds were still good. There’s also a section of the book the talks about the realities of running a bar. This is a great reality check for any who daydreams about starting a bar.

Bar Chef

  • Author: Christiaan Röllich
  • Level: Advanced
  • Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸
  • Favorite Drink: Raoul Duke, page 198

As the name of the book suggests, Bar Chef is a cooking-focused approach to cocktail making. Röllich’s cocktails have many custom syrups. He also makes most of his own ingredients that most other mixologists would purchase. Vermouth is an example. I made both the sweet and dry vermouth recipes from the book. The sweet vermouth had a nice complex and layered flavor with the bitterness that’s common in classical Italian vermouth. The custom syrups make for innovative cocktails. There’s a decent amount of effort to make them but the reward is there.

Disclosure: I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
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.

Disclosure: I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to