Bartenders have deep understandings of their crafts, memorizing complex recipes, grasping the nuances of varied liquors and dabbling in chemistry. Many amass libraries chock full of bartending guides and cocktail tomes while honing their knowledge.
We polled some of Hong Kong’s top bartenders on their favourite cocktail references.
Axel Gonzalez, Black Sheep Restaurants
The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft by Gary Regan is the most formative book in my cocktail career. It breaks everything down to the basics so you can build a solid foundation. It covers everything from spirits and techniques to dealing with rowdy guests. I recommend it to anyone who wants to become a bartender or is just interested in drinking.
Agung Prabowo, The Old Man
Modern Cocktail by Matt Whiley and Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold are two of the most important cocktail books ever written. There’s some high-level shit in here, and you’ll not be able to do it at home. But they are good to expand your thinking, not only about cocktails as drinks, but as an artform.
Bikal Ghale, Carbone
I tend to lean toward more simple cocktails from the Prohibition era, so I like books where I can read more on the history. David Wondrich is one of my favourite cocktail historians, so I grab his books when I can.
Owen Gibler, Employees Only
Originally my favorite bar book was The Joy of Mixology. Later in my career, my go-to reference was Imbibe by David Wondrich. Now, I recommend anything by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique in particular. He’s got a great sense of where he is.
Jhonny Daniel Valencia, Osteria Marzia
I refer to The Bar Book for details on classics and cocktail history. It’s entertaining but also gets really geeky on the subject. They chapters are also broken down into how you approach making cocktails, which is helpful.
Isabella Vannoni, The Optimist
My favourite cocktail book is Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan. The book is complete and includes the history of cocktails and bartending, service, hospitality, menu development, bar design, spirits production, mixing techniques and all the tools you’ll need to open your own bar. Plus, it has 100 excellent cocktail recipes.