Whether you're planning a cocktail party or just desire a good, strong drink, it's nice to have a solid cocktail book to turn to. Here are three Food Network Kitchen favorites that'll serve you in good stead in times of need.
From the man widely credited with reviving interest in classic (pre-Prohibition) American cocktails. Dale educates, instructs and amuses in equal turn here. All bases are covered: Techniques are lavishly illustrated; spirits are usefully broken down and brands recommended; and cocktails are typologically organized, their histories winningly recounted. Since its publication, The Craft of the Cocktail has become a bible for bartenders professional and amateur alike. It remains essential.
Schiller's Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection, Keith McNally (2013)
A cocktail guide from the restaurateur behind this beloved New York bar and restaurant. Keith's guide takes the attractive form of a mini boxed set: four generously illustrated booklets — one devoted to Classic Cocktails, another to Seasonal Drinks, a third to Artisanal Updates, and a Bartender's Guide to round it out. That's a lot of bang for your buck. It's a guide you can grow with: Once you've mastered the classics, you can ease yourself into the flavor-forward, culinary-minded world of modern mixology at your own pace without ever leaving the atmospheric world of Schiller's Liquor Bar behind.
Classic cocktails with a chaser of cultural context and a heavy splash of irreverent opinion: That's what Esquire Drinks offers. And no one does it better than Dave Wondrich, our foremost cocktail historian and Esquire magazine's "drinks pundit." With cocktail recipes accompanied by often-humorous mini-essays ("Italians, as a rule, are not drinkers — at least, not as the Anglo-Saxon understands the term."), this is a book to kick back with once you've poured yourself a drink. It's also a portal into a world of cocktail geekery — if it hooks you, then definitely graduate to Dave's much deeper and geekier book, Imbibe!