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25 Free, Classic Bartending & Mixology Books

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Classic Bartending Books ListI am so excited to officially post our 25th weekly post!  It’s been an incredible journey so far, meeting great people in the bartending and blogging community.  So for this post, I want to do something a little bit different and give something back.

When I decided I wanted to learn the techniques & skills of cocktail design, there just weren’t a lot of resources out there.  So I naturally gravitated towards the classic Bartending books.  I found that some of the great classics are actually so old that they are no longer copyrighted – and in fact, Google has them available for free online.  So I decided, what better way to give back to A Bar Above’s readers than to research 25 great classic books that are free online?

Here’s a quick thank you from me, then just keep scrolling down for the list!



25 Free Classic Bartending & Cocktail Books


By the way – if you don’t have a Google Account, you’ll need one to access most of these books.  So go ahead and sign up, You’ll never look back ;)


#1: The Complete Confectioner

Title & Link: The Complete Confectioner: Or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Easy : Also Receipts for Home-Made Wines, Cordials, French and Italian Liqueurs

By: Frederick Nutt J. & J. Machet, 1819

Comments: Recipe or how-to book which talks about different kinds of fruits and desserts and how to make them into a tasty dish. This also talks how to make homemade wine with infusions from different kinds of fruits and nuts.The good stuff starts on page 431 (435 in Google books)


#2: Hand-Book of Wines, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical

Title & Link: Hand-book of wines, practical, theoretical, and historical: with a description of foreign spirits and liqueurs

By: Thomas McMullen, 1852

Comments: Informative and how-to book which talks about wine and how they turn grapes from growers all over the globe (Hungary, Sicily, Greece, The Cape of Good Hope) into drinks that we all love.  The description, qualities and effects of wine and so much more.



#4: British & Foreign Spirits

Title & Link: British & Foreign Spirits: Their History, Manufacture, Properties, Etc

By: Charles Tovey, 1864

Comments: Informative book which talks about distillation, gin, Holland Genever, brandy, rum, punch, and liqueurs and cordials. 


#5: The Cook's Guide, and Housekeeper's & Butler's Assistant

Title & Link: The Cook’s Guide, and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant: a Practical Treatise on English and Foreign Cookery in All Its Branches …

By: Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1867

Comments:Guide for butlers and housekeepers that mainly talks about cooking-  Stocks and sauces, soups, bread, fish, batter, beef, dressing hams, entrees, side dishes, roasts, vegetables, fruits, cream ice, and finally – and most importantly – medicinal drinks.


#6: Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks

Title & Link: Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks

By: William Terrington, 1869

Comments: Informative book about wines, alcohol, syrups and liqueurs, bitter drinks, ale and beer, aerated beers, cider and meed, aerated water and lemon sherbets, refrigeration, temperate beverages, essences, spices, cups and social drinks, wine cups, punch and it has a table of weights and measurements.


#7: Cups and Their Customs

Title & Link: Cups and their Customs

By: Henry Porter & George Edward Roberts, 1869

Comments: This report (not totally a book) shows the history of different kinds of drinks and how they were used and prepared in the European Renaissance Era. Look up “Old Recipes” to find a recipe from 1640.


#8: The Gentleman's Table Guide

Title & Link: The Gentleman’s Table Guide

By: E. Ricket & C. Thomas, 1871

Comments: Recipe or how-to book which talks about different kinds of drinks like champagne and which glass to use. This is mainly focused on the American style of drinking and consuming liquor and drinks.


#9: American and Other Drinks

Title & Link:  American and Other Drinks

By: Leo Engel, 1878

Comments: Many of the same types of recipes as in Jerry Thomas’ book, but still a good read . Alternate URL


#10: The Art of Blending and Compounding Liquors and Wines

Title & Link: The Art of Blending and Compounding Liquors and Wines: … and Valuable Information Concerning Whiskeys in Bond

By: Joseph Fleischman, 1886

Comments: Informative book which talks about whiskey and bonds, fruit juices and flavorings for whiskey, imported liquors and scotch, essences, wines, and cordials. Alternate URL


#11: The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders' Manual

Title & Link: The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style

By: Harry Johnson, 1888

Comments: Another highly celebrated cocktail book. Amazing how often Bokers Bitters is mentioned.


#12: American Druggist: Volume 18

Title & Link: American Druggist: Volume 18

By: (Many Authors), 1889

Comments: I find that there are gems scattered throughout the book. Take a look at page 210 for example :)


#13: The Flowing Bowl

Title & Link: The Flowing Bowl: When and what to Drink : Full Instructions how to Prepare, Mix, and Serve Beverages

By: William Schmidt, 1891

Comments: This classic drinks and cocktails book presents recipes for mixed drinks and punches, as well as advice and history on beers, wines and some non-alcoholic beverages.  It also includes chapters on beer, ales and wines. William Schmidt included sample menus detailing beverage matches for each course. Dedicated to all bartenders and cocktail lovers!


#14: Drinks of the World: Volume 1

Title & Link: Drinks of the World: Volume 1

By: James Mew & John Ashton, 1892

Comments: Possibly one of the most extensive books of it’s time with a focus on all things beverage. It goes over wine, beer, alcohols, liqueurs, how to make your own sodas. Every chapter has some great information. There is even a whole chapter dedicated to milk.

#15: The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages

Title & Link: The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages: A Treatise Especially Adapted to the Requirements of Druggists and Confectioners

By: A. Emil Hiss, 1897

Comments: Absolutely incredible amount of information on everything concerning drinks. Even before you begin reading, the book gives you a glimpse into the depth that it provides. Look at page iii, even before the table of contents to be amazed. “Over 1500 formulas.”


#16: Cakes & Ale:

Title & Link: Cakes & Ale: A Memory of Many Meals, the Whole Interspersed with Various Recipes, More Or Less Original, and Anecdotes, Mainly Veracious
By: Edward Spencer, 1900

Comments: This book is a nice snapshot into the culture at the turn of the century. There are a good number of cocktail recipes, but I think the stories are fascinating.


#17: Modern American Drinks

Title & Link: Modern American Drinks: How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks

By: George J. Kappeler, 1900

Comments: Think that we’ve come a long way in our presentation and techniques since 1900′s? take a look at page 12.


#18: Dr. Chase's Recipes or, Information for Everybody

Title & Link: Dr. Chase’s Recipes Or, Information for Everybody: An Invaluable Collection of Practical Recipes

By: Alvin Wood Chase & William Wesley Cook, 1902

Comments: This book is an invaluable collection of about eight hundred practical recipes, “for merchants, grocers, saloon-keepers, physicians, druggists, tanners, shoemakers, harness makers, painters, jewelers, blacksmiths, tinners, gunsmiths, farriers, barbers, bakers, dyers, renovators, farmers, and families generally.”  Start with a recipe for bitters (pg. 33) and then continue to the next page to check out the “Saloon Department”. Alternate URL


#19: Daly's Bartenders Encyclopedia

Title & Link: Daly’s Bartenders Encyclopedia

By: Tim Daly, 1903

Comments: Another great cocktail book. Favorite title of a cocktail in here is the College Dream. I guess things were a lot different back in 1903, judging by the recipe…


#20: Consolidated Library of Modern Cooking & Household Recipes

Title & Link: Consolidated library of modern cooking and household recipes: Volume 5

By: Christine Terhune Herrick & M. Harland. 1905

Comments: Another great book that focuses not only on beverages, but also has a lot of information on food and customs of the time. One of my favorite chapters was on toasts and speech making.


#21: A Bachelors Cupboard

Title & Link: A Bachelors Cupboard: Containing Crumbs Culled from the Cupboards of the Great Unwedded

By: A. Lyman Phillips, 1906

Comments: With a chapter titled “A Dissertation on Drinks”, how can you go wrong. I especially like the cocktail named “The Earthquake Calmer.” Alernate URL

#22: Beverages De Luxe

Title & Link: Beverages de Luxe

By: George R. Washburne & Stanley Bronner, 1914

Comments: Talks about different kinds of drinks including their origins, how it used, its effects and finally, how to prepare them. Alternate URL


#23: The Ideal Bartender

Title & Link: The Ideal Bartender

By: Thomas Bullock, 1917

Comments: This book mainly talks about mixing drinks and cocktails that will cater to high-class elites. It has recipes and guides on how to do it. Alternate URL


#24: Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes

Title & Link: Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes: Containing Ten Thousand Selected Household and Workshop Formulas, Recipes, Processes, and Moneysaving Methods for the Practical Use of Manufacturers, Mechanics, Housekeepers and Home Workers

By: Gardner Dexter Hiscox

Comments: Holy Cow, There is so much content in this book. For example take a look at page 763. Might not be the actual formula, but wow.


#25: Beverages and Their Adulteration

Title & Link: Beverages and Their Adulteration: Origin, Composition, Manufacture, Natural, Artificial, Fermented, Distilled, Alkaloidal and Fruit Juices

By: Harvey Washington Wiley, 1919

Comments: With a title like this is it any surprise that the term “near beer” is mentioned in the book? Alternate URL



Thanks again for watching!

Definitely let me know (by email or in the comments below) what gems you find in the books above, (or other books we should add!) and we’ll update the list.

If you found this list helpful, please click one of the share buttons below to share with your friends, I would really appreciate it!

Until then, we’ll keep the videos coming and you have a great shift!

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