There are many reasons to pick up a Cocktail Book. Most are beautifully designed and add a touch of elegance to any coffee table. They are full of gorgeous imagery and perfect photos of drinks that, we imagine, must taste as good as they look. Professional bartenders and cocktail nerds pick up these books to expand their knowledge and challenge their perceptions of cocktails. These books contain a ton of knowledge developed by the bars and spirits professionals behind them.

Personally, when I buy a cocktail book it is because I plan to try to make as many of the recipes in it as possible. I love hosting cocktail parties at home, and these books are immensely helpful in providing a level of hospitality and pleasure at home that is often reserved for the top bars around the world. That’s not to say I get anywhere close to replicating what someone like Martin Cate is doing at Smugglers Cove in San Francisco, but the books at least make me look like I know what I’m doing better than I might otherwise.

The Cocktail Book Reviews blog is based on an ever-changing categorization of cocktail ingredients that I use to maintain consistency across many different books and writing styles. Its generally true that these categorizations (especially for spirits like Rum) are controversial. I’ll do my best to keep them as consistent with the general consensus as possible.

When categorizing an ingredient as being home made versus Off-the-Shelf (OTS), I’ll generally choose home made as long as the preparation is relatively straightforward. Yes, you can buy Simple Syrup OTS but making it at home is easy and far more rewarding.

I use the term “OTS Hard” where an ingredient is something the “average” cocktail enthusiast probably hasn’t heard of, or where an ingredient might not be available on the local liquor store shelf. Most OTS Hard ingredients can be found online these days.

I use the term “Home Hard” to mean homemade ingredients that take many steps, or involve a lot of time. Mostly these are infusions of a spirit with some flavor component. These are only truly “hard” in the sense that you can’t complete them without a day or two of advanced preparation. Don’t let this stop you from pursuing those ingredients.

Finally, all of the data presented in this blog is gathered by me and subject to error and bias. I’ll do my best to fix/update the data as errors are found. If you see something that looks off, I welcome your feedback (especially if you are the book author or connected to them).

Thanks for the taking the time to read my Cocktail Book Reviews. I hope you find them as useful as I do!

– John