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I 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 scroll down for the list!
25 Free Classic Bartending & Cocktail Books
Here’s the list!
I’ve provided links to the free and the physical copies in the list below. For the free version, be sure to click on the “Free Version” buttons. Please note – the Amazon links are “Affiliate” links, (meaning they help support this website.) You’re welcome to use them or not, but we appreciate your support!
#1: The Complete Confectioner
By: Frederick Nutt J. & J. Machet, 1819
Full Title: The Complete Confectioner: Or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Easy : Also Receipts for Home-Made Wines, Cordials, French and Italian Liqueurs
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
By: Thomas McMullen, 1852
Full Title: Hand-book of wines, practical, theoretical, and historical: with a description of foreign spirits and liqueurs
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.
#3: How to Mix Drinks
By: Jerry Thomas, 1862
Full Title: How to Mix Drinks: Or, The Bon-vivant’s Companion, Containing Clear and Reliable Directions for Mixing All the Beverages Used in the United States, Together with the Most Popular British, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish Recipes, Embracing Punches, Juleps, Cobblers
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.
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
By: Henry Porter & George Edward Roberts, 1869
Full Title: Cups and Their Customs: A Study in Bacchanology with Recipes for Cocktails and Mixed Drinks of the 1800s
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.
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
By: Leo Engel, 1878
Full Title: American and Other Drinks: Recipes for Making the Principal Beverages Used in the United States and Elsewhere: A Nineteenth-Century Cocktail Guide
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!
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
By: A. Emil Hiss, 1897
Full Title: The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages: A Treatise Especially Adapted to the Requirements of Druggists and Confectioners
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
By: Edward Spencer, 1900
Full Title: Cakes & Ale: A Memory of Many Meals, the Whole Interspersed with Various Recipes, More Or Less Original, and Anecdotes, Mainly Veracious
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”.
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.
#24: Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes
By: Gardner Dexter Hiscox
Full Title: 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