I got a call from Santa’s elves recently, and it turns out a lot of good boys and girls (older than 21, of course) are asking for things like muddlers, cobbler shakers, ice picks, and other items “mixology” related. While these things are great to have and pretty essential for your home bar, they will not provide the joy you hoped for if you don’t know how to use them or what to make with them. That’s why a good cocktail recipe book is a great thing for beginning mixologists. But which one?
One of the “rediscovered” classics, loaded with quaint Anglo-Saxon wordsmithing? A newer one with beautiful full-color photos but lame original drinks, soon to be forgotten? No, I say go for The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff. It’s a great essential that tells you enough, but not too much. It explains all the fundamentals, so you can make a classic cocktail correctly while also understanding how to tweak recipes and make something original. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—when you visit the giftee in the future, your holiday spirit will be buffered by well-chosen and prepared spirits.