What have books got to do with cocktails and bartending? Well, a heck of a lot actually. Here’s Dr Seuss to explain why:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Despite the fact that making killer cocktails is a practical vocation, the majority of pro-mixologists will tell you that they have experienced growth and progression through reading a good book. No matter what you hope to learn, there’s probably a book for it and there’s certainly a huge variety of cocktail books to help you improve your game even further. However, up until recently, the diversity of prominent cocktail-related literature hasn’t matched the diversity of the drinks industry and those who have contributed to it.
It’s time to take responsibility for our own education and personal development, which is why, to celebrate Black History Month, we’re highlighting some of our favourite cocktail books written by Black authors.
1. The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bullock
What we love: The humour and creativity demonstrated throughout this cocktail book, such as the Diarrhea Draught and Free Love cocktails.
Where to buy: Bookshop (an online international bookshop that donates to local bookshops).
Originally published in 1917, The Ideal Bartender was the first cocktail book to be published by an African-American author and provides an intriguing insight into the drinking culture before the onset of American Prohibition in 1920. 100 years after its publication, The Ideal Bartender was republished with a foreword by the great Ian Burrell, a global rum ambassador voted 10th Most Influential Person on the 2020 Bar World’s Top 100!
2. After Hours Cocktail Book by Martina Jackson
What we love: Martina Jackson really helps set the mood for each cocktail, giving us the best advice on how to enjoy the cocktail experience as a whole rather than simply focusing on the drink.
Where to buy: Drea & Co. Home (Martina Jackson’s lifestyle platform - eBook available)
Professional photographer, food blogger, and founder of Drea & Co. Home, Martina Jackson is a Black female entrepreneur with a flair for all things luxury! Her cocktail book, After Hours, was self-published in 2021 and includes over 20 incredible cocktail recipes. Each chapter focuses on a single cocktail and provides you with everything you need to know to set the mood and create the ultimate drinking experience.
3. Drink: The Ultimate Cocktail Book by Kurt Maitland
What we love: The sheer depth and breadth of the cocktail recipes offered and an entire alcohol-free section detailing how to create innovative 0% infusions, such as the Apple & Fennel Water.
Where to buy: Simon & Schuster (a global leader in the publishing industry, championing diversity)
After starting his journey drinking drams of Jameson whiskey in college, Kurt Maitland went on to become Deputy Editor of Whiskey Reviewer and curator of the Manhattan Whiskey Club. Having already written several books on Black History, including The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act, Maitland continues his epic contributions to literature with this stunning compilation of over 1,100 cocktail, wine, spirit, and mocktail recipes.
With a comprehensive guide to homemade ingredients, cocktail tools, garnishes, ice, history of spirits and classic cocktails, and interviews and signature recipes from bars and mixologists around the world, Maitland’s creation really is the holy grail of all cocktail books!
4. Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails by Shannon Mustipher
What we love: Shannon’s innovative techniques and unique twist on modern cocktails, including fat-washing to add a complex savoury layer to her tropical drink creations.
Where to buy: Bookshop
Another fantastic cocktail book to honour Black History, Shannon Mustipher’s take on tropical cocktails is nothing short of superior. Readers are provided with clear and easy-to-follow instructions for using high-quality ingredients, fat-washed and infused spirits, liqueurs, homemade syrups, and fresh fruit juices to create new and innovative versions of classic tiki cocktails. Mustipher’s modern style is a catalyst for an entirely new era of cocktail books and bartending.