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12 Cocktail Books to Read in Fall 2019

These are the must-read cocktail books of the Fall 2019 season.

fall 2019 cocktail book composite / Tim Nusog

This fall welcomes a bumper crop of booze books that may represent the most diverse range yet. On one side of the spectrum, you have titles with heft and gravitas: a narrative about the cider revival, deep dives into Tiki, weighty ruminations from bartenders about their ideal final pour. On the other side, this may be the year of the pop-culture cocktail book, whether that takes shape as homage to the 1990s or science-fiction-inspired “geek” drinks.

Smack in the middle are plenty of books with entertaining in mind, ranging from breezy pink cocktails spiked with rosé to more irreverent holiday treats that encourage aspiring hosts to set menorah “shots” on fire or age Eggnog for questionable spans of time.

We’ve stacked up a dozen of the latest and greatest booze books of the season. Mix yourself a drink and start reading (or vice versa).

  • “Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum?: And Other Cocktails for ’90s Kids”

    Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum cover with ’90s-inspired color blocks and motifs / Tim Nusog 

    Sam Slaughter (Andrews McMeel, $13)

    No Nick & Nora glasses here, no fussy rare amari—this is all about fun pop culture references and “Saved By the Bell”-era graphics. Think drinks like the Kimmy Gimlet, Pickelodeon and French 75 variation, Windows 75.

  • “Celebrate Rosé: Cocktails & Parties for Life’s Rosier Moments”

    Celebrate Rosé cover with various rosé bottles and wine glasses against dusty rose background / Tim Nusog 

    Ashley Rose Conway (Weldon Owen, $20)

    Straddling the line for wine and cocktail lovers, this colorful book is a breath of fresh air. Find approachable cocktail recipes and crafty entertaining tips that may surprise, such as instructions for making bottled cocktails as take-home party favors or DIY gradient glassware.

  • “The Cider Revival: Dispatches from the Orchard”

    The Cider Revival cover featuring a large paneled wooden block overlaid with red hand-painted text against a background photo of an orchard / Tim Nusog

    Jason Wilson (Abrams Press, $26)

    The author of “Boozehound” and “Godforsaken Grapes” tackles another category: cider. This book provides a similar narrative romp, this time through orchards, cideries and all manner of bars serving appley delights. It’s engaging and ideal reading for a long flight, provided you’re also packing a little cider to sip en route.

  • “The Complete Whiskey Course: A Comprehensive Tasting School in Ten Classes”

    The Complete Whiskey Course cover with ornate gold text and filigree on a black background with black filigree / Tim Nusog 

    Robin Robinson (Sterling Publishing, $27.95)

    Educator Robin Robinson has delivered a hefty tome, but it's not at all weighty to read. Production info and lore are broken into manageable, readable chunks and interspersed with plenty of photos and infographics.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • “Drink Like a Geek: Cocktails, Brews and Spirits for the Nerd in All of Us”

    Drink Like a Geek cover with large distressed orange title text, a white subheading, and multicolor sketches of a witch, cocktail glasses, a bottle, a robot, and more against black painted background with ivory border / Tim Nusog

    Jeff Cioletti (Mango, $19.95)

    It has been a great year for pop-up bars that pay homage to science fiction with themed menus and crazy décor, and this book feels like a visit to one of those bars. It dives deep into “Star Wars” prequels, “Doctor Who” (the blue-hued Gin & Tardis) and superhero culture (a Midori-spiked Hulk Smash), so a specific audience will love this book.

  • “Flask: 41 Portable Cocktails to Drink Anywhere”

    Flask: 41 Portable Cocktails cover with a silver script-filled flask inlaid into a solid black background / Tim Nusog

    Sarah Baird (Chronicle Books, $16.95)

    This compilation of portable drinks that can be transported everywhere—planes, camping, the beach—has vivid infographics detailing drink recipes for six- and 17-ounce flask sizes.

  • “Gather Around Cocktails: Drinks to Celebrate Usual and Unusual Holidays”

    Gather Around Cocktails cover, crisp white background with a punch bowl, lemon twists, gold glitter, coupe glasses, a bow tie, Champagne corks, and a hand topping a glass with Champagne / Tim Nusog

    Aaron Goldfarb (Dovetail Press, $20)

    This irreverent book may start with crowd-pleaser punches, but it’s different from the usual holiday cocktail guidebook. Celebrate Mardi Gras with king-cake-flavored Old Fashioneds chilled with plastic babies frozen into ice cubes or a baby shower with color-changing “gender reveal” cocktails. There are also some of the most creative cocktail vessels seen in a book, including popcorn containers, flowerpots and hollowed-out chocolate Easter bunnies.

  • “How to Drink Like A Mobster: Prohibition-Style Cocktails”

    How to Drink Like a Mobster cover, black with amber midcentury font and a silhouette of a man in a fedora / Tim Nusog

    Albert W. A. Schmid (Red Lightning Books, $15)

    This sleek, petite volume is part cocktail book, part gangster history lesson. The drinks skew classic, sprinkled with film and book references and mobster lore—ideal for someone who owns a well-worn copy of “The Godfather.”

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • “Last Call: Bartenders on their Final Drink”

    Last Call cover featuring a white serif title font, orange author serif font, and an image of a bearded bartender pushing an old fashioned-style drink toward the reader / Tim Nusog 

    Brad Thomas Parsons (Ten Speed Press, $35)

    This beautifully photographed coffee table book includes bartender profiles, portraits and cocktail recipes centered around a specific question posed to bartenders: What is the last thing you’d want to drink before you die?

  • “The Martini Cocktail: A Meditation on the World’s Greatest Drink, with Recipes”

    The Martini Cocktail cover with gold sans serif title text, a martini in a fine stemmed glass with an olive on a metal pick sitting atop a white countertop against a burgundy background / Tim Nusog

    Robert Simonson (Ten Speed Press, $19)

    This deeply researched history of one of the world’s most popular cocktails, with recipes sourced from classic and modern bartenders, is ideal for gifting with a favorite bottle of gin.

  • “Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard”

    Minimalist Tiki cover with a black and multicolored background and a bright red tropical cocktail on crushed ice and garnished with a blue umbrella and purple flower in the foreground. Text is white and sans serif. / Tim Nusog

    Matt Pietrek and Carrie Smith (Wonkpress, $35)

    Despite the problematic title of this self-published book from the duo behind the Cocktail Wonk blog (some interpret the word “wonk” as derogatory), the book has an authoritative but welcoming voice that pays homage to rum producers and Tiki practitioners around the globe. Of particular note, the “Tiki Thirty” in the back of the book is a well-edited, user-friendly short list of recipe classics.

  • “Mod Cocktails: Modern Takes on Classic Recipes from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s”

    Mod Cocktails cover with a diagonally split pink and white background, a mod-style sans serif lowercase font, and an aerial view of three orange cocktails in rocks glasses on a large cube garnished with orange zest / Tim Nusog 

    Natalie Jacob (Page Street Publishing, $22)

    Bartender and blogger Natalie Jacob brings together the best drinks from the midcentury period, the original era of cocktail parties, Tiki bars and Martini lunches.