It's been a few weeks since I wrote my last blog as I've been exceptionally busy with bitters production and preparation for Tales of the Cocktail, however this really isn't an excuse for not posting something so apologies to my regular reader (singular). In all seriousness, trying to find the time has been a bit of a nightmare so I took the advice of a very wise man who shall remain nameless, "If you're struggling to get something on paper, get someone else to do it for you."
I've long been wanting to write a piece on my ever expanding book collection though this posting was inspired by a question posed to me by Craig Harper a number of weeks back;
"If you were to recommend just one book to a bartender, of any skill-set or experience, what would it be?"
Talk about trick questions! This wasn't one I could easily pinpoint and I'm sure I changed my mind at least five times during our call; from Jerry Thomas, to Harry Johnson, to Charles H. Baker, to David Embury, to Dave Wondrich, and back again. I've a pretty enviable collection which I'm forever adding to and I could argue a case for many of them, so it occurred to me to utilise my Facebook and Twitter contacts and put this question out to the masses, reaching every corner of the globe. This would serve a three-fold purpose;
1. To ascertain which books have had most influence on the wider bartending community,
2. To form a reference point which could essentially act as a guide for anyone looking to start their own library,
3. To highlight any books I don't yet own but really have to get my hands on!
I targeted a number of influential industry figures of various standing and let them do the rest of the work to get to 50. Before you go any further please note each person's name is followed by a link to their workplace (so you can pop in for a drink if it's a bar they work in), the title of the book they selected, and finally the author.
I would have liked to add a line from each person about their choice as I had some great justification;
Paul Mant: "Harry's ABC. Not because of its seminal historical value but because it was the first pocket sized alphabetised book that allowed bartenders to keep it on them and pretend like they knew it all when in truth they were ducking under the bar to make it look like they did."
Anistatia Miller: "I always direct people to Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual. Why? Because we have to remember that being a great publican stands above being a great drinks maker."
and my own personal favourite from Jim Romdall: "In life, it's never about the drink you're having, it's about what's happening around you while you're having that drink."
...though I'm sure you'll understand this would have taken the length of this blog to ridiculous proportions.
For anyone wishing to purchase a particular title that's listed, I have taken the time to link the book titles/authors to sales links on AbeBooks and Amazon. Click on the title and it will bring up a list of books available for sale. These will range from first editions to modern reprints so you can buy based on your budget. I also want to point out I'm in no way affiliated to either of these companies and won't in any way profit from any sales.
Without further ado, the books...
"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them."
-- John Waters
1. Alastair Burgess (Happiness Forgets) - The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan
2. Steffin Oghene (Strange Hill) - Cosmopolitan by Toby Cecchini
3. Andy Gemmell (Bacardi Global Brands) - Service That Sells! the Art of Profitable Hospitality by Jim Sullivan
4. Timo Janse (Door 74) - Imbibe! by Dave Wondrich
5. Jamie Stephenson (Drambuie Global Brand Ambassador) - Cocktail by Heywood Gould
6. Nidal Ramini (Brown-Forman) - Killer Cocktails by Dave Wondrich
7. Jared Brown (Sipsmith) - The Leader in You: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
8. Pete Kendall (TBC) - Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
9. Hayden Scott Lambert (Merchant Hotel) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
10. Edmund Weil (Nightjar) - Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
"There is no friend as loyal as a book."
-- Ernest Hemingway
11. Richard Gillam (Refinery Concepts) - How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice by Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier
12. Jon Hughes (Sygn) - A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage
13. Mike Aikman (Bramble and The Last Word) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
14. Daniel Bovey (Sahara) - Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
15. David Kaplan (Proprietors LLC) - Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis
16. Tom Zyankali (Zyankali Bar) - Cocktailian: Das Handbuch der Bar by Helmut Adam
17. Zdenek Kastanek (Quo Vadis) - All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
18. Craig Harper (Bacardi Training Team) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
19. Tim Etherington-Judge (Diageo) - The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
20. Patrick America (Cafe Hopper) - Imbibe! by Dave Wondrich
"A book without words is like love without a kiss; it's empty."
-- Andrew Wolfe
21. Tom Walker (American Bar at the Savoy) - Straight Up or On The Rocks by William Grimes
22. Chad Larson (Bradstreet Crafthouse) - The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan
23. Stanislav Vadrna (Analog Bartending Institute) - The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
24. Benjamin Fierce (Air) - The Game by Neil Strauss
25. Sam Carter (Bombay Sapphire) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
26. Stephen Dennison (bourbonblog.com) - Service That Sells! the Art of Profitable Hospitality by Jim Sullivan
27. Matthew Bax (Der Raum and Bar Americano) - American Bar... by Charles Schumann
28. Gary Regan (Ardent Spirits) - Cosmopolitan by Toby Cecchini
29. H. Joseph Ehrmann (Elixir) - The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
30. Lance Mayhew (Whisked Foodie) - The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan
"In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them."
-- Mark Twain
31. Hal Wolin (Angel's Envy Bourbon) - Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
32. Anthony Caporale (Institute of Culinary Education) - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
33. Anistatia Miller (Mixellany) - Bartender's Manual by Harry Johnson
34. Jim Romdall (Vessel) - The Gentleman's Companion... by Charles H. Baker
35. Ian Burrell (Rumfest) - The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bullock
36. Andrew Says (Liberty) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
37. Dominic Venegas (The NoMad) - On Drink by Kingsley Amis
38. Toby Maloney (Alchemy Consulting) - The Gentleman's Companion... by Charles H. Baker
39. Ben Belmans (Ben's Bar) - Fix the Pumps by Darcy O'Neil
40. Arno van Eijmeren (Barrelproof Boutique) - The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
-- Charles Willian Eliot
41. Paul Mant (Rematch!!! Beeyatch!!!) - Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone
42. Chris Hannah (The Museum of the American Cocktail) - Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
43. Giuseppe Gonzalez (Mother's Ruin) - Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
44. Paul Bradley (Sushi Samba) - The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan
45. Joey Medrington (Bacardi) - The Gentleman's Companion... by Charles H. Baker
46. Rob Rademaker (Lucas Bols) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
47. Sophie Mackay (The Rose Villa Tavern) - Behind Bars by Ty Wenzel
48. Elizabeth Markham (The Publican) - The Flavour Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
49. Charlotte Voisey (William Grant & Sons) - Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff
50. Sean Ware (Bombay Sapphire) - Neurogastronomy by Gordon M. Shepherd
"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
-- G.K Chesterton
Following on from the original 50 I've had some more suggestions as follows;
51. Shaun Pattinson (Cushdy) - The Upstart Guide To Owning & Managing a Bar or Tavern by Roy Alonzo
52. Paul Harrington - (Clover) - The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
53. Jamie Boudreau (Canon) - Bartender's Manual by Harry Johnson
54. Ago Perrone (The Connaught) - The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury
1. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury (7 votes)
2. The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan (4 votes)
3. Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh, Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff and The Gentleman's Companion... by Charles H. Baker (3 votes each)
4. Imbibe! by Dave Wondrich, Cosmopolitan by Toby Cecchini, Service That Sells! the Art of Profitable Hospitality by Jim Sullivan and Bartender's Manual by Harry Johnson (2 votes each)
A number of the books, and more, are available as PDFs on the excellent resources below;
Exposition Universelle Des Vins & Spiritueux
Golden Age Bartending
Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to offer their insights and opinion, and of course to you for taking the time to read. Please feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments below, particularly if there's a tome not listed which you feel is worthy of inclusion.
Bar Consultant / Compounder
Evo-lution / Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters
Web: www.evo-lution.org / www.bokersbitters.co.uk
Facebook: Adam Elmegirab / Evo-lution Bar Consultancy / Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters