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May 19, 2012 01:43 PM

Where should I look for solid "recipes" for drinks?

I know zippo about mixing good drinks. I do know my way around the kitchen, and I know that some recipes sources are reputable (Joy of Cooking, for example), and others are not --such as some of the recipes on the web that use a lot of processed foods such as Cream of Whatever soup, frozen hash browns, and other ghastly stuff). Is there a reputable source I can use to find good quality "recipes" for mixed drinks?


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  1. Depends on what sort of "recipes" you are looking for, and then I could recommend some "books" that might work.

    Two good ones for classics and some new (as well as technique how-to's) are Robert Hess’ The Essential Bartender’s Guide and Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. Big on the fresh citrus and other juices and low on anything with high fructose corn syrup.

    10 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      Robert Hess also has a number of recipes on his site (, so you can check them out there as well. I have his book and use it frequently- it's attractive, simple and I mostly trust his recipes.

      1. re: tinnywatty

        There are more Robert Hess recipes on They're in the show notes so you don't need to watch the videos, but they are worth your time too.

        I started with Craft of the Cocktail, it's what got me really interested in cocktails. After a while, I realized I liked the recipes in Hess' Essential Bartender's Guide a lot more, they just seemed better balanced. Not that CotC was a bad book by any means, it's still my go-to for a few things.

        I'd also recommend Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology, with the caveat that nearly every recipe in the book is too sour and needs just a little sweetening. If you think most cocktail recipes are too sour, head that way. Joy of Mixology also has some great theory surrounding families of drinks. Very informative for making your own recipes.

        1. re: xcorvis

          Hmmm. I too like Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology, and I don't find the recipes too sour. I also particularly like the center section where he organizes cocktails into families. The book is worthwhile on its other merits, but that center section alone justifies purchase.

          I also agree on Robert Hess. His videos take a while to watch, but he is charming and the cocktails are good quality. These two books will give you a good and broad introduction to classic cocktails.

          My bitch about books is that I tend to have to know what I want to find something. I'm much more likely to think to myself, "okay self, how about something with Cocchi Americano (because I have a bottle open and want to work on it) and gin (because its hot as blazes and gin sounds refreshing)". Website are helpful this this; books much less so. Books are better for reading cover-to-cover for general knowledge and perhaps dog-earring paging that are worth returning to.

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          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Hess's book has an index sorted by main ingredient as well as an alphabetical one, but of course searching online is easier. For some reason I have a lot of trouble with the KC database on my phone though (never want to haul out the computer to mix a drink), and I trust Hess's recipes so I've mostly been sticking to them
            so far.

            1. re: tinnywatty

              What phone? I use it all the time on an iPhone. It has a vastly simplified search optimized for phones when you first go to it. If you tap the "home" icon, it brings you to the full website.

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I'm using an android phone. HTC Sense. For some reason it doesn't always search all of the words I type- I'll type two or three ingredients on separate lines and when I click find, it erases one of the words or doesn't search until I hit the button several times. It doesn't happen all the time, though- I just tried two different searches (two ingredients on each) and it happened on one but not the other. When it does work, though, it's really great.

                1. re: tinnywatty

                  You need to enter actual ingredients. It does a lot to try to make sense of what you type, but each ingredient needs to be an actual ingredient, such as sweet vermouth or wine or rye or whiskey or wild turkey or something.

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Yep- for that particular search I entered gin and orange bitters. It kept deleting orange bitters as it searched until about the fifth try, when I got results.

            2. re: EvergreenDan

              it depends on what your sweet-tooth set point is. If you're in line with Dale DeGroff and his sense of sweetness, most recipes will seem tart. Hess is somewhere between DeGroff and things I find just right (I believe Regan is inline with this from what I recall).

              I didn't list Regan as a good starter book since there aren't that many images. I don't need images for my more advanced book recommendations, but for a first book recommendation, it should be more all encompassing.

            3. re: xcorvis

              Joy of Mixology is a great book, but I don't really use it for recipes much and it doesn't have drink photos, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for the OP. It's really great for the theory and background information though, and I do use it for some recipes that don't show up in Hess's book (he has pretty strong opinions about which drinks are worth making). The Craft of the Cocktail has gorgeous photography but after reading it in the bookstore I didn't feel it was worth buying for that price.

        2. I have found bartender's books at used book sales. Mr. Boston is one that I have gotten before. Tons of recipes. You can also buy it new online.

          1. If you're looking for fresh and modern-style cocktails, I highly recommend The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim. His cocktails employ a lot of fresh juices and herbs, with nods to the classics. His recipes are easy to follow, and the results are delicious. My retiree-father swears by it, and he's no Julia Child.
            Sample here:

            1. If only there where an on-line cocktail recipe database curated for quality. If only....

              I can also recommend blogs. For example explores interesting cocktails from the Boston craft cocktail scene. He describes each drink in some detail, so you get a feel for what it will be like. He's been doing it for long enough that there are many interesting drinks there. He is also a member of the CSOWG -- Cocktail and Spirits Online Writers Guild. This group generally has good blog posts about interesting cocktails. It will take a little time to find bloggers whose taste corresponds to yours.

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              1 Reply
              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I love the kindred cocktails website. My cocktail obsession started about a year ago, after going to a bar that made drinks with ingredients like chartreuse, creme de violette, and fernet branca- I had mostly stuck to wine before then, but then this whole new world of flavor opened up and I was hooked. You'll find reliable recipes for classics like a manhattan as well as more inventive drinks, but always using good ingredients (no sour mix!).

                I do have several reputable cocktail books, such as the craft of the cocktail (degroff) and the joy of mixology (regan). I read through them and and am glad to have them for the basic foundation they provide, but I don't really turn to them for recipes. I also follow a few blogs, and they tend to be ones I found googling a certain ingredient looking for more info or cocktail ideas (various amari for example).

                If you have a drink or ingredient you know you like, try typing it into the kindred cocktails search engine and see what pops up. You'll find recipes, and suggestions for similar drinks- you can save your own customized online cocktail book based on your preferences.

              2. Thanks for the great info, 'hounds. I really appreciate it.

                p.s. Yarm--- I put "recipes" in quote marks because I was not sure if that was the correct term in the world of spirits. Looks like it is the correct term, based on how it was used in the replies to my question, so no quote marks were necessary.

                p.s.s. I found some drink recipes at Serious Eats. Do any of you use the recipes on that blog?

                4 Replies
                1. re: soccermom13

                  As an old fahrt, I naturally regress to the state of the art when I got started. The Playboy Bartender's guide gave all the classics and some basic bartending tenets. Bringing it up to today, and I enjoy Craft of the Cocktail.

                  When you are looking for orgeat to round out your bar, consider yourself graduated.

                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    Fellow OF here, too. I remember the PBG well. Still into the classics rather than the new stuff. Also think a "proper" bartender is the guy with the gray hair and tie who doesn't talk your ear off, but knows what you drink. I KNOW I'll get a blast for that one....but what the hey.

                  2. re: soccermom13

                    I read their DIY vs. Buy column and I've made a couple of their infusion recipes to varying success. Never tried any cocktail recipes though. They have fun lists- X essential rum/bourbon/tequila/etc recipes that might give you some interesting ideas.

                    1. re: tinnywatty

                      I can vouch for some of the cocktail recipes. Although many of the interesting drinks on there are just a photo and a list of ingredients. But the ones that list the actual proportions/recipe have been decent.

                      The essential lists (Cocktail 101) is done by Mike Dietsch who does A Dash of Bitters blog. The DiY column is done by an author who has a book on the topic. Cocktail Chronicles' Paul Clarke has written for them as well. Overall, they are good but it is a large number of writers with different interests and tastes.