Recommended books to learn the basics of Tiki Cocktails

Every time I do masterclasses I usually send a dossier to the attending students, in which I include details about the tasted rums, ingredient recipes, premixes and cocktails worked during the session and a list of recommended bibliography and interesting websites to check.

Now that sadly we are in a time of forced confinement in our homes, my online appearances proliferate to give some masterclasses, tastings or collaborate in those of other colleagues and friends.

Sometimes, I get the impression that there are people who are more looking for insisting on the questions that interest them more than for paying attention to what we are explaining and, many times, those questions are summarized in a “What book do you recommend to learn about tiki? “.

Personally, I am one of those who think that the first truly important thing to learn about “something” is to listen to what those who know about that “something” can explain to you. Then there will be time for questions and doubts.

Obviously, after these classes I also get messages and e-mails asking me questions, but mostly everyone asks me about books. It may be that because of the situation we are living in, people have more time to read than in their usual routines, but I have realized the need to publish an article talking about this.

The first thing I want to clarify is that there are no books published on tiki cocktails in Spanish, so the first thing you have to be clear about is that all the books that I am going to recommend will be in English.

The second point to be clarified is that I’m not going to talk about all the existing books on tiki,only those that I consider essential to make tiki cocktails, if I don’t name others is because they are more focused on history or tiki cultural aesthetic movement or, simply, because they are rubbish and it is not worth it to waste your money on them.

Having said that, let’s start:

-Trader Vic Bartender’s Guide(1947/1972):

The first edition dates from 1947 and the revised edition from 1972. This is the manual of cocktails according to Trader Vic, he doesn’t speak about tiki cocktails, he speaks about cocktails in general. In it we can find all the classics (Martinis, Daiquiris, Manhattans, …) and, among them, some 143 exotic cocktails from Trader Vic. He talks about his point of view of bartending, about the clientele, about how to prepare drinks, about liqueurs and spirits and then categorizes the recipes according to the base distillate, but also according to the type of cocktail: After-dinner, Daisies, Eggnogs and Milk Punches, Fizzes, Hot Drinks, Juleps, Non-alcoholic, Punches, Coolers, Punch Bowls, Rickeys , Smashes, Mojitos, Sours, Swizzles and Wine Cups.

As it is an old book you can find it second hand in some specialized online stores.

-Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks (2009):

I would define this book as my quintessential tiki cocktail reference manual. In this book, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry groups two of his previous books, Grog Log (1998) and Intoxica! (2002), reviewing and updating them, adding 107 new recipes. This book reveals the lost and never before published original recipes of many classics of tiki cocktails, such as the Jet Pilot, the Zombie or the Nui Nui.

You can get it here.

-Sippin’ Safari 10th Anniversary Edition (2017):

We follow with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and the 10th anniversary special edition of the original Sippin ‘Safari (2007), which kicked off the cocktail-level Tiki Revival worldwide, revealing 69 secret historical recipes and the stories of people who were behind them. In the new version we find 14 new classic recipes never published before, a 26-page introduction of how Jeff discovered and decoded the recipes published in this book, plus an extra 29 pages explaining the Tiki Revival that this book generated and contemporary recipes from the most famous bars in the USA and Europe.

You can get it here or here.

-Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic cocktails, rum and the cult of Tiki (2016)

Martin y Rebecca Cate, propietarios de Smuggler’s Cove en San Francisco, nos traen una biblia del tiki en toda regla. En su libro encontramos historia, recetas clásicas y modernas de su bar, informaciones detalladas sobre cómo decorar tu home bar o que necesitas para hacer una auténtica luau party, además de mucho detalle en herramientas, técnicas, ingredientes, decoraciones y ron, sobre todo ron. Martin nos enseña su particular manera de entender y clasificar los rones y cómo aplicarlo a sus cócteles.

Martin and Rebecca Cate, owners of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, bring us a full-blown tiki bible. In his book we could find history, classic and modern recipes from his bar, detailed information on how to decorate your home bar or what you need to make an authentic luau party, as well as much detail on tools, techniques, ingredients, decorations and rum, especially rum. Martin teaches us his particular way of understanding and classifying rums and how to apply it to his cocktails.

A point of view of the same story different from the the books that existed until then, which always makes this reading interesting.

You can get it here.

-Minimalist Tiki (2019):

Matt Pietrek (aka Cocktail Wonk) and Carrie Smith bring us another point of view of tiki, wanting to make it understandable and replicable for all kinds of audiences. This does not imply that this is going to be a type of  “Tiki for Dummies” book or anything like that, the regulars of the Cocktail Wonk blog will already know what I’m talking about. Matt brings us a thorough analysis of classic recipes and ingredients (for the story it refers us to the previously recommended books), explains everything you need to have and how to organize your Minimalist Tiki Bar. He talks about techniques, liquors, equipment, decorations, how to make your syrups and homemade liqueurs and how to enhance your ability to improvise recipes.

It also offers a juicy section on rum talking about production, categorization, brands and industry, and rum recommendations for tiki.

Another strong point of the book is that of the “New Tiki Vanguard” where the recipes of 13 bartenders and 10 modern venues appear, giving us an insight into the world tiki scene with some 100 modern recipes (plus 30 classic tiki recipes).

You can buy it here.

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This post is also available in: Spanish

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