Famous New Orleans drinks and how to mix ‘em, Stanley Arthur
The cocktail guide as literature. “A classical work.” according to H. L. Mencken. Arthur is quite the raconteur, and tells lively tales about the history of NOLA’s most famous drinks, including the Sazerac and the Vieux Carré. Included is his take on the origin of the work “cocktail” — a great story that may even be true. Sure, you can buy a cheap facsimile of this book, but it sure is ugly. It doesn’t take too much more time or effort to score a prettier, vintage version like the copy I found on ebay and photographed below.
The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan, Chris Gall
This book is gorgeous. But it’s not a case of style over substance. There’s a lot of great information here, from setting up a bar, to techniques and an incredible spirits primer. And oh yeah, the recipes. Unlike the complicated science projects found in many cocktail primers, most of these drinks are approachable and accessible to the novice bartender (like me). Shameless admission: I have both the book and the ebook so The PDT Cocktail Book is always at my fingertips.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh
The don’t call Ted Haigh Dr. Cocktail for nothing. Vintage Spirits is a great primer on the history of the mixed drink. It’s a fascinating read. And like The PDT Cocktail Book, you can actually make most of these drinks yourself. Where ingredients are difficult (or impossible) to find, viable substitutions are offered. There are also tons of entertaining vintage photos, illustrations and ads.