Cocktail lovers can always use a new drink in their glass, a new recipe to try, new boozy histories to recount. So it's never a bad idea to give cocktail books for the holidays. But we understand, of course, that there’s not just one kind of cocktail drinker. So we’ve got categories to ensure you’re getting the exact right thing: Your friend who loves to lounge in his Eames chair, daiquiri in hand, would love Mod Cocktails, while your brother who wishes he worked behind the bar at Death & Co will love doing a deep dive into Cocktail Codex. Just make sure the ultimate beneficiary is you: insist on being invited over for drinks while they start testing the recipes in each volume.
For the Fun-Loving, Themed-Party Obsessed: Gather Around Cocktails by Aaron Goldfarb
Forget boring parties with bland bites and a sad, desolate bar setup with quickly-dissolving ice, flat tonic, and red Solo cups. Written in a relaxed and encouraging tone, this book is organized by holidays and events throughout the calendar year so that you can throw any type of party you could ever think of—and do a better job of it. Big football fan? Step up your tailgate game with Igloo cooler drinks laced with gin and chopped cucumber. Have a vegan friend? Make a vegan nog that’s laced with mezcal. Or, throw an Oscar viewing, Derby Day, or Mardi Gras party. Whatever your fête of choice, Goldfarb sets you up for success. You’ll also learn how to master both basic syrups and festive holiday ones like peppermint and pistachio or a Christmas tree syrup made with pine needles (!). He wipes away any concerns about having a small space, showing you that all it takes is a good attitude and some great drinks to have some fun.
For the Mid-Century Design Obsessed: Mod Cocktails by Natalie Jacob
The colorful and gorgeously styled photos in this ode to the mid-century cocktail make you feel like you’re at some fabulous Palm Springs cocktail party. Jacob provides recipes for drinks prominent in the 1940s through the 1960s, taking a historical approach, but also adding her own contemporary twists. The book is full of bartender’s tips, learned from years of experience, ranging from what rums she likes to use to what equipment to have on hand. One cool tip comes in the recipe for an Army & Navy, a citrusy gin cocktail made with orgeat. Jacob suggests using droppers to add bitters to the foamy head and then running a toothpick through it to create a design—fancy, right?
For the Friend Who Always Orders Martinis: The Martini Cocktail by Robert Simonson
Whether you’re someone who is highly particular about your martini, or someone who’s still confused about whether it’s *supposed* to be shaken or stirred, Robert Simonson can teach you something. The masterful New York Times drinks writer covers all aspects of the iconic cocktail in this book. He shares the storied history, dispels quite a few myths and legends, and offers recipes and riffs from destinations like the famed Dukes Bar and the Connaught Bar. Add a nice bottle of vermouth to complete the gift.
For Your Indecisive Yet Curious Friend: Be Your Own Bartender by Carey Jones and John McCarthy
A good bartender will often ask you questions before making you a “bartender’s choice” cocktail: Do you want whiskey or gin? Sour or boozy? Blended or stirred? This husband and wife team lets you bring custom cocktails home with this fun choose-your-own-adventure cocktail book. For example, if you choose tequila to start, you can opt for spicy, then “no muddling” and “a little feisty,” which’ll take you to the Friend of the Devil, which pairs chile-infused tequila with bitter Campari and cold brew coffee. Feeling less spicy? They’ll send you to a whole other range of options. It’s like having your own personal friendly bartender to coach you along the way.
For the I-Kind-Of-Want-to-Quit-My-Job-and-Become-a-Mixologist Friend: Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan
Flipping through the pages of this book offers an almost meditative glimpse into the dreamy world of cocktails—with visually stunning photos. From the writers of Death & Co, this book aims to teach you how bartenders see drinks. You’ll learn six cocktail “families” and then, from there, understand how and why other drinks are variants of that base style. The book connects the dots between cocktails in a way that’s scientific, but has a creative spirit, too.
For the Friend Who Loves Bar Culture: Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons
Brad Thomas Parsons travels across the country, interviewing and drinking with bartenders. Sounds like a good gig, right? He talks to them about much more than bartending, though, asking about the song they play for their bar’s last call, and the last drink they’d have before life’s last call. As he introduces you to bartenders, from Idle Hour in Baltimore to Dino’s Tomato Pie in Seattle, and back to his hometown of NYC, you’ll feel like you’re on a curated, country-wide bar crawl. It’s more of a travelogue than a traditional cocktail book, but it’s one that will be treasured by anyone who has ever been a regular at a bar.
For the Newbie Home Bartender: Cocktails with a Twist by Kara Newman
This book takes the classic drinks you like, then aims to introduce you to others you might also like. It covers the basic cocktail recipes—your manhattans and your bloody Marys—then teaches you to riff on them and expand your home bartending prowess. For example, if you’re a fan of the margarita, then you might try the spicy El Pepino or fruitier Matador and discover a new go-to cocktail.
BUY IT: Cocktails with a Twist by Kara Newman, $15 on Amazon
For Cocktail Geeks: The NoMad Cocktail Book by Leo Robitschek
Leo Robitschek of the NoMad bar in New York knows a lot. Like a lot a lot. This detailed book is a way to peek into the brilliance he brings to his bar programs, and all the fine-tuned details that go into each concoction on the menu. The book is beautifully illustrated and its design feels like you’re picking a collector’s item off a dusty, book-lined shelf—perhaps that’s an indicator that this volume will soon be a classic. This isn’t one for beginners; it’s the sort of book filled with esoteric ingredients and complex potions, and it’s a great present for the person who really wants to nerd out on cocktails.
For the Forever Hostess: Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman
Epi’s own senior editor, Maggie Hoffman, has written a beautiful and approachable book that means you’ll never be stuck behind a card table playing bartender at your own party again. It’s filled with make-ahead cocktails prepared in big batches—some of these drinks even get better with age! The images are gorgeous, the instructions clear and helpful. I especially love the “use it up” tips, which provide ways to use leftover ingredients, like swirling a clove-mint syrup you have leftover from the Ticktock in a fresh lemonade. The recipes are organized by flavor profile so you can find the drink that’s just your style, and the pages are full of helpful tips, like the idea of making a bottle of cocktails as a gift for new parents. The book also has a section of fancy non-alcoholic drink recipes to make sure that everyone feels included at any gathering you host.
For the Francophile: Apértif by Rebekah Peppler
Step aside, Italian aperitivo. This book moves over into the equally stylish and luxurious territory of the French cocktail hour, providing recipes for classic and contemporary before-dinner French cocktails, along with light bites. Très bien!
Originally Appeared on Epicurious