Holiday Gift Guides

The Best Craft Cocktail Books to Gift Your Friends, According to a Drinks Expert

A book and a buzz. What's better?

Thrillist | Grace Han
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“If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't f*ck 'em!” - John Waters. 

Mr. Waters' same logic could be loosely applied to going home with someone who can't make a solid nightcap. If this person is you, you can now rectify both of these unfortunate scenarios—and relatively quickly! 

I tapped Nicholas Ruiz, the general manager at Patent Pending + The Lab (an intimate cocktail bar in NYC), and asked him about his favorite cocktail books to gift others.

"When I'm looking to gift a book on cocktails, I like to think about who I'm gifting first—is it a home cocktail enthusiast, or a skilled bartender?" Ruiz said. "That will help inform which kind of book you give." Below are his top picks. His first options are for those with a little experience in the mixology world (bartenders and enthusiasts). But keep scrolling and you'll get to the more user-friendly options (for new-to-the-game novices).

Thrillist | Grace Han

The Flavor Bible by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

Price: $36.80
Why it's a great gift: "Everyone should have this book. It's a multi-functional primer on flavor and educates the reader on pairings of cocktails and food."

Thrillist | Grace Han

Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan

Price: $36.80
Why it's a great gift: "From the team behind Death & Co, this book is the perfect gift for bartenders. It nails the fundamentals and is a book I turn to myself for brushing up on the classics and learning about different practices. It's a great tool for both the bartender that is just starting out and the one with 10 years of experience. I can still dive back into this book and find something new or something I’d forgotten."

Thrillist | Grace Han

Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Price: $32.20
Why it's a great gift: "This one is a great gift for someone who is a little more experienced with high-end cocktail bartending; there are definitely parts of this book that I have to re-read 3-4 times to fully understand. It’s a very scientific approach to cocktails and there are so many people out there who would love nothing more than to learn about that side of the industry."

Thrillist | Grace Han

The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock

Price: $16.19
Why it's a great gift: "In my opinion, this one is the apex of classic cocktail books - you can read about the origins of so many classic cocktails, and how they have been modified throughout the years to become what they are today. It's essentially the bones of the cocktail world."

Here are Nicholas' favorites for those who are at-home cocktail enthusiasts, or just picking up the craft:

Thrillist |Grace Han

Tiki by Shannon Mustipher

Price: $27.55
Why it's a great gift: "This one is an intuitive, tropical-style cocktail book for the cocktail enthusiast or home bartender. Shannon makes these cocktails very approachable, whether you're just starting out or have more practice, and she maintains high regard and respect for Caribbean culture. Plus, it’s a super fun book that looks stunning on the shelf."

Thrillist | Grace Han

The NoMad Cocktail Book by Leo Robitschek

Price: $27.60
Why it's a great gift: "This one comes from the team behind the NoMad Bar, and it's a great piece of history as well as being a recipe book. It provides a deep insight into how one of the world’s best cocktail bars got its start. It's a great one whether you're a home enthusiast or working in the industry."

Thrillist | Grace Han

The Aviary Cocktail Book by Nick Kokonas, Allen Hemberger, and Grant Achatz

Price: $85.00
Why it's a great gift: "In my opinion, this is the most beautiful cocktail book ever printed. It’s on the expensive side but it's a massive, gorgeous book that will look great on the coffee table and makes a wonderful gift. You can’t help but be shocked at how beautiful everything is, and even if you weren’t into cocktails, you’d still love to receive this one."

Thrillist | Grace Han

Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons

Price: $23.92
Why it's a great gift: "This is a great book for those who want to elevate their knowledge about amaro, which has long been thought of as a complex ingredient reserved for the bartender's use. I often have customers now come up to me and ask about different amari, and I recommend this book as a way for them to learn more."

Thrillist | Grace Han

I'm Just Here for the Drinks by Sother Teague

Price: $22.99
Why it's a great gift: "Sother takes his work very seriously, but the book is super approachable and provides insight into a very good craft bartender’s mindset. It’s more opinionated and personal than some of the others on this list, but it's a book that reminds you of New York City when you read it, and it's a great representation of the cocktail world for non-industry enthusiasts."

Nicholas Ruiz is the general manager at Patent Pending + The Lab. You could say cocktails are his "thing." Follow him on Instagram @nicholasleeruiz.
Alex Robinson is a writer & editor for Thrillist. He believes the perfect Negroni takes at least three years to perfect. Follow him on Instagram @alexanderrobinson.
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