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The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails
The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

David Wondrich; Noah Rothbaum
  • A brand-new Oxford Companion covering spirits and cocktails, to stand beside the best-selling Oxford Companions to Wine and Beer
  • The first A-Z reference work to present in-depth, global coverage of distilled drinks, the third branch of the alcohol family
  • Covers all aspects of the alcohol development and consumption, from technical to cultural to historical, in a ground-breaking synthesis
  • Lavishly illustrated, the Companion explores the theory of mixology, current and historical techniques and trends, and influential mixologists and their bars
  • Includes insights from 150 contributors, from distillers, bartenders and owners, and spirits journalists, to historians, anthropologists, and more
  • Appendices include a timeline of the development of spirits and distillation and a guide to mixing drinks


Anthropologists and historians have confirmed the central role alcohol has played in nearly every society since the dawn of human civilization, but it is only recently that it has been the subject of serious scholarly inquiry. The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails is the first major reference work to cover the subject from a global perspective, and provides an authoritative, enlightening, and entertaining overview of this third branch of the alcohol family. It will stand alongside the bestselling Companions to Wine and Beer, presenting an in-depth exploration of the world of spirits and cocktails in a groundbreaking synthesis.


The Companion covers drinks, processes, and techniques from around the world as well as those in the US and Europe. It provides clear explanations of the different ways that spirits are produced, including fermentation, distillation, and ageing, alongside a wealth of new detail on the emergence of cocktails and cocktail bars, including entries on key cocktails and influential mixologists and cocktail bars. With entries ranging from Manhattan and mixology to sloe gin and stills, the Companion combines coverage of the range of spirit-based drinks around the world with clear explanations of production processes, and the history and culture of their consumption. It is the ultimate guide to understanding what is in your glass.

The Companion is lavishly illustrated throughout, and appendices include a timeline of spirits and distillation and a guide to mixing drinks.


Topical Outline of Entries
The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (A-Z)
Appendix I: Timeline of Spirits and Distillation
Appendix II: How to Mix Drinks
Directory of Contributors

About the author: 

Editor-in-chief David Wondrich and Associate Editor Noah Rothbaum

David Wondrich is a James Beard Award winning author, cocktail historian, mixologist, and educator, and one of the pioneers of the current renaissance in the art of mixing drinks. He is an acknowledged authority on spirits and their production, having written extensively on most categories in the market. A former English professor, his long-time interest in the arcana surrounding spirits and cocktails led him to leave academia to become Esquire Magazine's drinks correspondent, and later senior drinks columnist at the Daily Beast. David has written four books on drinks: Esquire Drinks; Killer Cocktails; Imbibe! (the first cocktail book to win a James Beard award); and Punch.


Noah Rothbaum is the editor of the Daily Beast's Half Full section. Under his leadership, the site won the 2018 and the 2020 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication. He also hosts the podcast Life Behind Bars with legendary cocktail historian David Wondrich, which won the 2018 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for Best Podcast Series and, according to the New York Times, is "a perfect comfort listen for the curious drinker." His publications include The Art of American Whiskey: A Visual History of the Nation's Most Storied Spirit Through 100 Iconic LabelsThe Business of Spirits: How Savvy Marketers, Innovative Distillers, and Entrepreneurs Changed How We Drink, and the forthcoming The Whiskey Bible.

~150 contributors from many backgrounds in industry and academia including distillers, bartenders and owners, spirits journalists, historians, anthropologists etc

"the ultimate tome for the cocktail enthusiast in your life, compiled by the most respected voices in the industry. You'll be able to endlessly revisit this reference piece that touches on every nook and cranny related to libations. Naturally, it's best perused with a cocktail in hand." - Charles Joly, co-founder of Crafthouse Cocktails, The 44 best holiday gifts for cooks and foodies, according to experts, CNN Underscored

"deftly answers all manner of questions... the scholarship is clear. Footnotes abound and the cross-referencing is Wikipedic in scope." - , Economist, 'The five essential guides to improved mixology'

"The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails stands out as an authoritative and congenial guide to the world of hard liquor... One can consume its vast and varied knowledge in sips or long deep draughts, using its meticulously organized critical apparatus to steady oneself... the book will make an excellent companion for both the drinker and the bartender, adding savour to the beverage and the craic." - Judith Hawley, Times Literary Supplement

"I have a reasonably large collection of books on the subject, but none is as comprehensive as... Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails" - Tom Molloy, Irish Idependent

"Forget Google - for everything you ever wanted to know about the origins, meanings and processes of drinks, plus the facts and stats on the people and places behind them, this bad boy is your go-to." - , The Cocktail Lovers

"With 1,150 alphabetical entries, The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails is the ultimate guide to drinks terminology. It works as a dictionary and a recipe book, or something to dip into and emerge hours later." - , Waitrose Drinks

"This one is a biggie in all senses of the word... Trust us when we say that it's packed with absolutely everything you need to know about the fascinating world of drinks." - , The Cocktail Lovers

"Seasoned imbibers, boozers, quaffers and alcoholics please take note: here is the first major reference work to cover the subject globally. Inebriating, intoxicating, it will definitely keep your spirits up." - Robert Tanitch, Mature Times

"Start on any page of this new, definitive encycolopedia of cocktail history and let it take you on a journey from entry to entry. It's a boozy Wikipedia you can hold in your hands." - Camper English, Big Issue

"This well-researched and executed volume is a treasure. It's a cocktail dictionary. It's a spirits lexicon. It's a mixology almanac. It's a true drinks companion - and many of us will welcome the company... engaging and often amusing, and above all it is a delightful education." - Chrissie Walker, Mostly Food & Travel Journal

"A comprehensive guide, an essential addition to the reference bookshelf, to be consulted when researching the history of a spirit, the origins of a cocktail, or indeed when settling a drunken argument on any drinks-related subject, from Cognac to Coca-Cola... Rothbaum and Wondrich have marshalled a huge amount of knowledge to provide a pivotal point of reference. They should be lauded and applauded for their fine work." - Joel Harrison, Club Oenologique

"There really hasn't been anything which offers such a comprehensive overview as this book does and it's well overdue... It's a treasure trove of information for anybody with the least little bit of interest in the subject." - Hayley Anderton, Shiny New Books

"If I sound a little bit breathless and overexcited about this book - well, I am. There hasn't really been anything like it before which covers so much in one place... if you're looking for a Christmas present for a drinks enthusiast I don't see how you can miss with this book." - Desperate Reader

"A must-have compendium for any drinks lover." - Julie Sheppard, Decanter

"Magnificent... I greatly enjoyed perusing this voluminous book and will hugely enjoy owning it." - Vitali Vitaliev, E&T Magazine

Product details

ISBN : 9780199311132

David Wondrich; Noah Rothbaum
960 Pages
178 x 254 mm
Pub date
Nov 2021
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The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails