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25 Free, Classic Bartending & Mixology Books

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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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

Comments: This is written by possibly the most famous bartender in history and is filled with great recipes and stories.

 

#4: British & Foreign Spirits

By: Charles Tovey, 1864

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1867

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: William Terrington, 1869

Full Title: Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: E. Ricket & C. Thomas, 1871

Full Title: The Gentleman’s Table Guide

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

 

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

By: Joseph Fleischman, 1886

Full Title: The Art Of Blending And Compounding Liquors And Wines

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon) Alternate Free Version

 

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

 

#11: The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual

By: Harry Johnson, 1888

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

 

#12: American Druggist: Volume 18

By: (Many Authors), 1889

Full Title: American Druggist: Volume 18

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

 

#13: The Flowing Bowl

By: William Schmidt, 1891

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: James Mew & John Ashton, 1892

Full Title: Drinks of the World: Volume 1

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: George J. Kappeler, 1900

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: Alvin Wood Chase & William Wesley Cook, 1902

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon) Alternate Free Version

 

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”.

 

#19: Daly’s Bartenders Encyclopedia

By: Tim Daly, 1903

Full Title: Daly’s Bartenders Encyclopedia

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: Christine Terhune Herrick & M. Harland. 1905

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: A. Lyman Phillips, 1906

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon) Alternate Free Version

 

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

 

#22: Beverages De Luxe

By: George R. Washburne & Stanley Bronner, 1914

Full Title: Beverages de Luxe

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon) Alternate Free Version

 

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

 

#23: The Ideal Bartender

By: Thomas Bullock, 1917

Full Title: The Ideal Bartender

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon)

 

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

By: Harvey Washington Wiley, 1919

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

Free Version (Google Books) Physical Copy (Amazon) Alternate Free Version

 

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

 

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!

About the Author:

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.

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