6 Great Books for Beginner Bartenders

Published: 06 December 2022

Are you starting out as a bartender or looking to make the transition into hospitality but don’t know where to start? Here are six great books that will help you better prepare as you start your bartending career in hospitality.


1. Cocktail Codex by David Kaplan - Cocktail creation basics

The founders of Death & Co (Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan) have created six “root recipes” that encompass all classic cocktails: the old-fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, whisky highball, and flip. These experts reveal their surprisingly simple approach to mastering cocktails. You will quickly learn the ins and outs of each cocktail family by using the six templates, and soon be able to identify why some cocktails work and others don’t. This book will also give you the expert scoop on what sorts of drinks you should turn to—or invent—if you want to try something new.


2. Imbibe by David Wondrich - History of cocktails

Cocktail historian David Wondrich explores the colourful, little-known history of classic American drinks. He presents the ultimate mixologist's guide for those who want to master the craft of drink-making in this engaging homage to Jerry Thomas, father of the American bar. 

In Imbibe, David Wondrich reveals never before published details about this larger than life nineteenth-century figure and gives readers definitive recipes for more than 100 punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, toddies, slings, and other essential drinks.


3. Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold - Learn new techniques

Dave Arnold's philosophy is simple: if you think like a scientist, you can make better drinks. In Liquid Intelligence, Arnold explores the chemical elements that come together to create great cocktails. Using innovative techniques such as the use of gelatine to clarify cloudy liquids, chilling drinks with liquid nitrogen―and practical tips for making infused liquors, Liquid Intelligence is for anyone eager to learn the hows and whys of a beautifully made drink.


4. The Flavour Bible by Andrew Dornenburg - Expand your flavour matrix

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to use your senses to coax the greatest possible flavour from ingredients. Drawing on decades of combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating deliciousness in any dish.


5. The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails by David Wondrich - A good all rounder

The Companion offers in-depth descriptions of drinks, processes, and techniques from around the world. It explains how spirits are produced, including fermentation and distillation, but also provides details on the emergence of cocktails and cocktail bars. With topics ranging from the Manhattan cocktail, to mixology, gin styles and the various types of stills, it combines a deep explanation of spirit based drinks, with explorations of production processes. The Companion is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to understand what's in their glass.


6. The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan - Bartender’s favourite - an oldie but a goldie

Gary Regan is a prolific writer on all things cocktails, and his books have had a huge influence on mixologists. This brand-new edition fills in the gaps that have been left since the first book was published. It incorporates Regan's special insight into the cocktail revolution from 2000 to the present, and a complete overhaul of the recipe section. Regan's renowned system for categorising drinks helps bartenders not only to remember drink recipes, but also to invent their own. The Joy of Mixology is a must read for both professionals and amateurs alike.

We acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work