Essential Cocktail Reads

Bartender Paul Gustings shares his cocktail reading list

Photo: Margaret Houston

With a personal library of more than one hundred vintage cocktail guides, venerable New Orleans barman Paul Gustings of Broussard’s Empire Bar shares his selection of must-have titles.

  • Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, by Ted Haigh, contains recipes for one hundred nearly lost drinks, plus shopping resources for hard-to-find ingredients.


  • Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide is a primer on everything from cordials to shooters.


  • Imbibe, by David Wondrich, charts the evolution of the American cocktail. Gustings serves an English Milk Punch recipe from the book at Broussard’s.


  • Bitters, by Brad Thomas Parsons, is filled with research on old-time and little-known bitters, including recipes for making your own.


  • And a Bottle of Rum, by Wayne Curtis, is a spirit-soaked history of the New World in ten cocktails.


  • The Gentleman’s Companion, by Charles Baker, irreverently chronicles 1930s cocktail culture, with tips on everything from curing hiccups to safely picking up a shattered glass.

  • Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em, by Stanley Clisby Arthur, gives the backstory on New Orleans staples, from 
the Absinthe Anisette to the Vieux Carré.