Fancy becoming a top mixologist or bartender in your own home? Looking to branch out from a classic G&T? Get inspired, learn new skills and try unique new cocktails with our selection of the best cocktail, wine and beer books to add to your cookbook collection.
From recipes inspired by The Savoy dating back to 1930, to books packed with simple three-ingredient cocktails to get you started, there’s something for everyone. If wine or beer are more your drink of choice, there are books for those, too.
Once you’ve got plenty of recipes to start practicing, make sure you’re fully equipped to create top-quality drinks at home. If you’re experimenting with lots of bottles and spirits, display your collection on a bar cart or trolley. For perfectly blended cocktails, we’ve gathered the best cocktail shakers to mix an icy drink in seconds. Then, it’s time to pick your perfect tipple: we’ve reviewed the best white rum or dark rum, vodka and whiskies. If gin is your drink of choice, choose between citrus, pink or classic gins – or even have a go at making your own homemade gin.
Best cocktail and wine books to buy in 2021
The Spirits by Richard Godwin
This is packed with enough information, history and advice to give you a good understanding of the cocktail, but at its core it’s an easy to use recipe book full of all the classics you’d expect (negroni, espresso martini, margaritas) updated for the modern home bar. Richard has also written new recipes, plus stacks of advice on how to start creating your own liveners. This will quickly become a well-used, dog-eared, booze-stained staple of your cocktail cabinet.
- Available from Amazon, £7.99
The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
A fantastic place to start if you want to begin at the beginning. Specifically, 1930 – when the golden age of cocktails had yet to fade. You may find the odd ingredient here and there that you can no longer find, but the 287 pages of this book are absolutely teeming with recipes (over 700), so you will still have plenty to choose from. It’s fascinating to see which cocktails have stood the test of time, such as the martini, moscow mule or bloody mary – alongside a few forgotten treasures.
Booze (River Cottage Handbook No12) by John Wright
Where do you go once you’ve mastered cocktails at home? Start making your own booze to use in them, of course. This book is a wonderful place to start if you’d like to have a go at making your own beer, wine, cider and fruit liqueurs. Imagine: it’s summertime and you’re serving up a couple of cosmopolitans with your own orange liqueur, or a round of french 75s made with homemade elderflower champagne – the Good Life dream!
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Ever looked at a list of gin botanicals and not known what they all are? This book will educate, inform and entertain, plus give you heaps of knowledge to impress your guests at your next drinks party. It couldn’t be more fully loaded, with layers of information on drinks and their ingredients. Land on the page for a sloe gin fizz, for example, and simply glance either side of the recipe to discover how to grow your own sloes, the Latin plant name and why we make sloe gin in the first place.
The 12 Bottle Bar by David Solmonson & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
For serious cocktail fans really wanting to be able to make all kinds of drinks at home at the drop of a hat, this book is for you. It guides you through the purchase of 12 bottles to stock your booze shelves or trolley, then provides over 200 recipes using those spirits. Don’t worry – you don’t have to buy all 12 at once! The book will help you build up from a one-bottle bar shaped by your personal preference – you might even be surprised by just how many cocktails you can make from one spirit. Peppered with facts, tips and buying advice, this is a wonderful reference book for your home bar.
Good Things to Drink – with Mr Lyan and friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana
Written with relaxed, casual at-home entertaining in mind, from the brains behind some of the world’s best cocktail bars. Ryan’s (aka Mr Lyan) work often involves storytelling – just look at the menu booklets in some of his bars – so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the intro for each recipe takes a more prominent position on the page than the method. The recipes are still easy to make, but given extra context and story to make them come alive.
- Available from Amazon (£8.70)
Aperitif: A Spirited Guide to the Drinks, History and Culture of the Aperitif by Kate Hawkings
The ideal gift for booze aficionados, this book will teach you how to infuse your own spirits and mix the perfect negroni. Kate starts with a witty, engaging take on the history of aperitifs (it makes great bedtime reading), then offers 33 recipes with advice on serving, from a classic martini to rose petal vodka.
Red & White: An unquenchable thirst for wine by Oz Clarke
Wise, funny, experienced and an inveterate storyteller, Oz Clarke is one of the wine greats. Part memoir, part distillation of all you need to know about fermented grape juice, this is good enough to read in bed. Buy it for everyone you know.
Sip: 100 gin cocktails with only 3 ingredients
Gin experts Sipsmith will expand your cocktail repertoire with this handy book. It does as the title says (with only a tiny bit of cheating), so you can learn to make french 75s, gimlets, negronis and many more.
Brew by James Morton
How to Drink Without Drinking by Fiona Beckett
This book will persuade anyone to go dry for January, and perhaps even beyond! It’s full of non-alcoholic drinks, plus recipes (we love the rhubarb cordial) and a review of 0.5% and below beers. There are also drinks to suit red and white wine drinkers.