Toss out the adage, “never judge a book by its cover.” We’re judging, and guess what? These cocktail books have stunningly illustrated covers with content to match. As craft cocktails are having a resurgence, so are books dedicated to them. Here are nine that will flood your liquor table with information and decoration.
Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author, and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
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by David Wondrich
For the seminal cocktail book, Imbibe!, author David Wondrich says that, "I wanted a book that would be a beautiful object in its own right, one that, like the classic cocktails I was making and drinking in cocktail bars around the world, is a little outpost of the 19th century in the modern world. Ben Gibson, who designed the cover, succeeded with that far better than I could have even hoped."
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Zen and Tonic
by Jules Aron
Jules Aron's cover for Zen and Tonic is as enticing as the cocktails depicted within it. The author explains how, "since this book hearkens back to the old-time tradition of using cocktails as restorative tonics and medicines, the cover evokes an apothecary's sign. The botanical details are reminiscent of classic botanical illustrations, which tie in with the theme of the book, where every herb and super food is used for its beneficial health purposes as well as its flavor. The combination of the dark background—for the boozy, indulgent side--and the bright green and gold of the botanical details—for the green herbs and produce used in the recipes--is meant to convey the balance of boozy and fresh in the drinks."
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by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau
On her and Leslie Pariseau's book, Spritz, Talia Baiocchi notes inspirations of Italian futurism and 1980s California graphics on their cover, illustrated by Matthew Allen. "We had a really clear vision on what we wanted it to look like and we were taking direct cues from Italian booze advertising specifically during that Italian futurist era, and also mixing it with 1980s California, because when many people hear "Spritz," they think the white wine spritzer. We wanted to be able to call on both futurism and that era that gave birth to Italian cocktails, and then the incredible color and the graphic nature of 1980s California photography and graphic illustration. Part of what we're trying to translate is the time of day where the Spritz lives in Italy, that aperitivo golden hour, in the golden color and the drink's shadow, was meant to invoke that time of day."
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The Essential Bar Book
by Jennifer Fiedler
The Essential Bar Book grabs the eye with its clean lines and its minimalist use of complementary colors. Author Jennifer Fiedler tells Paste that designer Ralph Geroni's "art deco-style lettering is a nod to many of the origin stories of the classic cocktails included in the book."
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The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual
by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry, & Ben Schaffer
On choosing an illustrated cover for this very popular book, co-author, Ben Schaffer, explains that, "The Dead Rabbit itself is rooted in the 1850s, so the book cover is inspired by Victorian type ornamentation. Most cocktail books today feature photos on the cover, but we wanted to be true to that history. Of course, beautiful photos are inside, but just by looking at the cover, readers already know our book is a bit different."
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The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book
by Frank Caiafa
The Waldorf recently released its first cocktail book since 1934, The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, penned by Peacock Alley Bar Manager Frank Caiafa. And like craft cocktails, the book itself is a work of art. Josie Portillo's illustrations on the cover and in the book denote a classic time period of old New York. And yet, the choice of illustrating the cover over using a photo keeps it timeless.
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Cocktails On Tap
by Jacob Grier
Cocktails On Tap is a wonderful guide to mixing spirits and beer, and the simple design and elegant usage of colors on the cover captures that perfectly. For the cover, author Jacob Grier, "wanted to include elements of beer and cocktails, hence the tap, bar spoon, and hop vines."
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In The Land of the Cocktails
by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
In the Land of the Cocktails is written by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan of the Brennan family, renowned for their restaurants. The duo goes by the nickname "The Cocktail Chicks," and together they wrote a book comprising of 75 of New Orleans cocktails and the city's colorful cocktail culture. The cover art was illustrated by local artist Tim Trapolin, whose other work includes illustrations for Commander's Palace and various Mardi Gras crews. The colorful cover with loose lines perfectly captures the Big Easy's joie-de-vivre and vibrant personality.
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The Enlightened Imbiber's Guide to Alcohol
by Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham
Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, AKA "The Thinking Drinkers," are writers, performers, and drink experts squeezed into one (or two, in this case). The collage cover is a perfect choice to capture all of their talents. Co-author Tom Sandham says that for the cover's execution, "we worked with a designer on the cover, we wanted to get ourselves on there and tend to use posters for our live work. But the book is very different to our live theatre, it's informative but we write it in an amusing way so it needed to sum that up. We were really pleased with the result. Meanwhile the book is full of pictures of great drinkers, all of which have been designed in this way so it gave a nice continuity, with people like Ernest Hemingway drinking daiquiris in Cuba to Jesus Christ turning water into beer not wine, all illustrated in the same way throughout."