13 Vintage Cocktail Book Torrents For Mixing Retro Drinks

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Photo by jronaldlee, Flickr

Photo by jronaldlee, Flickr

Ordering drinks is one thing, but mixing them is quite another. Knowing the correct amount of spirits, bitters and mixers to create a flavorful concoction appears to be more akin to alchemy. Clearly, cocktails are an art form and similar to fashion, drinks have come and gone out of style.

Whether your poison is a Blackthorn, a Sidecar or a Death In the Afternoon, preference actually boils down to taste. The human tongue has an average of 10,000 taste buds, however, women actually have more taste buds than men. Because men have less they tend to prefer stronger liquors, like whiskey, scotch or tequila.

We aren’t advising you to start drinking like Hemingway, but we are excited to share some vintage cocktail book torrents that are available in the public domain. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make a Blackthorn, a Sidecar or a Bronx these books are your ticket. They’re full of popular recipes from well-known vintage society hotspots like The Stork Club, The Savoy and Waldorf-Astoria. Plenty of how-to included for the mixologist novice too.

Vintage cocktail book torrents

1. Approved Cocktails (1837), William Tarling

This book was developed to help standardize recipes across the bar industry. Because many bartenders used different names for the same drinks this book was used to help consolidate. Original drink recipes for the Hoop La and Odd McIntyre are just a few of the fun cocktails you’ll find inside.

2. Daly’s Bartending Encyclopedia (1903), Tim Daly

The warm drink section of this book is great for testing out different cocktails in fall and winter. Hot Gin Sling and Hot Irish Whiskey Punch sound pretty tasty.

3. American And Other Drinks (1878), Leo Engel

This book yields some beverages that seem more like dares than something that you’d actually sip. The Knickebein consists of curacao, maraschino, port-wine and an egg.

4. Bartender’s Guide (1862), Jerry Thomas

If there’s one vintage cocktail book that is still referred to as a “go-to” and a staple among bartenders it’s this one. Loaded with recipes for punches, juleps, cobblers, toddys and slings you’re bound to find something interesting to try.

5. Cocktails: How To Mix Them (1922), Robert Vermeire

Not only do you learn how to make some amazing vintage cocktails, but you also get a mini-history lesson behind how each one came to be.

6. Jack’s Manual (1910), Jacob Grohusko

Pre-prohibition and wild with drinks, this book has all the classics and more. Check out the White Horse, Medford Rum Smash and Absinthe Drip for starters.

7. Bartender’s Manual (1882), Harry Johnson

Regarded as a highly influential book within the bar scene during it’s time and even today, Johnson shares more than cocktails. He reminds readers and professionals how to be a bartender too.

8. Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks (1869), William Tarrington

Don’t let the name fool you. This is a highly informative book with everything you could possible want to know about wines, alcohol, syrups and liqueurs, bitter drinks and beer.

9. The Flowing Bowl (1891), William Schmidt

Chock full of classic drinks and cocktails you’ll find recipes for punches and mixed drinks, as well as advice and history on wines, beers, and a few non-alcoholic beverages.

10. Modern American Drinks (1900), George J. Kappeler

This book is 100% pure cocktails. Page after page of recipes and zero fluff. Discover how to make the Star, White Plush and Bosom Caresser.

11. The Ideal Bartender (1917), Thomas Bullock

This is the first manual written by an African American and highly respected bartender of the prestigious Pendennis Club in Kentucky. It’s reported that Bullock’s cocktails were so delicious that he once faced a lawsuit for libel. That alone is reason to mix a few of these. Recipes for the Cohasset and Brace Up sound delicious.

12. A Bachelor’s Cupboard (1906),  A. Lyman Phillips

With a chapter titled “A Dissertation on Drinks”, how can you go wrong. I especially like the cocktail named “The Earthquake Calmer.” Alernate URL

13. Beverages de Luxe (1914), George R. Washburne & Stanley Bronner

Heavy representation of vermouth and exceptional level of skill and craft are featured throughout the recipes in this book.

That’s a wrap. Let us know if you try any of the recipes inside. What worked and what didn’t? Tell us in the comments below.


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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.