10 Cocktail Books To Help You Master Tropical Tiki Drinks

These shed light on Tiki’s problematic history while schooling you on some delicious recipes.

Heat waves are scorching parts of the United States, rum is trending and people are searching for a refreshing summer drink — it is the moment to master Tiki cocktails.

If you’re ready to dive into Tiki culture and make some drinks, check out these books recommended by cocktail historians and bar professionals who specialize in tropical libations. First up is a serving of Tiki’s complicated history of fetishization of Polynesian culture, colonial oppression and Caribbean pillage.

Mixed in are classic recipes and modern takes on those classics, all blending into the evolving canon of tropical drinks. The Tiki experience is no longer, in the words of legendary bartender Shannon Mustipher, about “exotic escapism.”

“It’s a tropical vibe that extends to how you decorate your surroundings, or the kind of art or music or lifestyle you enjoy,” Mustipher said. “It’s about chilling.” Grab your muddler, one of these books, and get on shaking up your own tropical cocktails.

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"Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki" by Martin and Rebecca Cate
Smuggler's Cove
The “quintessential modern Tiki bible,” is how bartender Evan Campbell from San Francisco's Last Rites describes this book. “'Smuggler’s Cove' provides a plethora of recipes, syrups, infusions and other house-made ingredients to the exact specifications at Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco," Campbell said. "[They] also delve into the rich, but dark history and aspects of Tiki."

Chloe Frechette, author of "Easy Tiki," added her endorsement to the five-part volume featuring over 100 recipes. “The owners chronicle their personal journey into the intoxicating world of Tiki, offering deep dives on the genre’s history, rum and beachcomber lifestyle along the way. Plus, of course, plenty of recipes for home bartenders hoping to level up their Tiki game.”

Get "Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki" for $16.99.
"Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails" by Shannon Mustipher
Robin Wolf, bartender at California's The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar and soon-to-be-opened Highwater, and winner of 2019 Tales of the Cocktail competition, said "Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails" by Shannon Mustipher is the must-have cocktail book. “Shannon Mustipher is inarguably the queen of all things rum in the current cocktail world, and the first working Black bartender to publish a cocktail book in a century," Wolf said. "She tackles the weighty task of embracing the celebratory and escapist allure of Tiki drinks while acknowledging the problematic cultural history of the movement.”

The book has approachable recipes that offer modern takes on classic Tiki cocktails, recommendations for liquors that match well with flavor profiles, as well as playlists for an immersive tropical experience at home.

Try Wolf's favorite, The Jungle Bird, on Page 36.

Get "Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails" for $18.69.
"Drink What You Want" by John deBary
Drink What You Want
Mustipher, winner of the 2020 Pioneer Award from Tales of the Cocktail Dame Hall of Fame and founder of Women Who Tiki, appreciates John deBary’s technique of presenting classic cocktails interspersed with innovation and creativity. She told HuffPost that "Drink What You Want" is like sitting down with your neighborhood bartender, geeking out about mixology and learning how to take a recipe template and transform it into something adventurous. There is no judgment, just entry points into the crafting of delicious cocktails.

Get "Drink What You Want" for $14.99.
"Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival" by Chloe Frechette
Easy Tiki
With 60 accessible recipes, this book makes crafting Tiki cocktails approachable at home. Frechette explores the classics, and then offers updates incorporating minimal ingredients while maintaining their tropical flavor and signature garnishes. The book also examines the origins of Tiki and provides a primer on rum all mixed with stunning photography.

Get "Easy Tiki" for $11.99.
"Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean" by Jeff Berry
Potions Of The Caribbean
Philip Greene, cocktail historian and author of "To Have and Have Another," identified "Potions of the Caribbean" as a must-have book: “It is a deep dive into so many of the great drinks of the tropics, their history and folklore. You always feel a sense of trust when you read the works of people like Beachbum; you know they have done the homework. Especially love the amazing ephemera, photos, vintage menus, etc. — it really takes you back in time."

Get "Potions of the Caribbean" for $37.53.
"Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition" by Jeff Berry
Sippin' Safari
Beachbum has a number of books, but for another volume to add to your collection, check out "Beachbum’s Sippin’ Safari: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition" for new recipes and insight into the Tiki revival inspired by the original Sippin’ edition.

Get "Sippin’ Safari" for $39.60.
"Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl" by David Wondrich
Recently named to Drinks International’s list of Bar World’s 100 Most Influential Figures, David Wondrich is not only a cocktail historian and editor-in-chief of "The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails," but an author who, as Philip Greene says, “does his homework.” "Punch" mixes history, notes on technique and ingredients and vintage recipes that come alive in Wondrich’s wry voice in this well-researched volume.

And, if you missed his Twitter #LoFiLushHour drink demonstrations, give him a follow @DavidWondrich and catch up on the fun.

Get "Punch" for $26.
"Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink" by Victor Jules Bergeron
Trader Vic's
Co-founder of Doom Tiki NYC, Chockie Tom described this volume as pivotal in her bartending career: “Growing up in Los Angeles, most of my early cocktail experience professionally was limited to classics and dive bar staples. I gravitated to this book, equally curious and nostalgic. While parts of it certainly reflect the problematic elements overlooked during that time, the recipes and idea of creating a whole thematic concept were what I found most interesting. The recipes are approachable and not overly complex.”

With his iconic wit, Victor Jules “Trader Vic” Bergeron, writes recipes and short vignettes from his life and time in the islands, as well as how to have an immersive Tiki experience. The book is divided into three parts: About Booze, About Parties and About Food in General.

Get "Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink" for $73.88.
"Trader Vic’s Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with Friends" by Stephen Siegelman
Trader Vic's Tiki Party
You could also check out Stephen Siegelman’s "Trader Vic’s Tiki Party: Cocktails and Food to Share with Friends" for a modern glimpse behind the Trader Vic’s experience.

Get "Trader Vic's Tiki Party!" for $19.99.
"Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard" by Matt Pietrek
Minimalist Tiki
Robert Garrison, owner and operator of Lexington, Kentucky's The Green Lantern Bar, has a lot of love for this book. “If 'Smuggler’s Cove' was the original bible of the Tiki Revival period, 'Minimalist Tiki' is the new testament," Garrison said. "It offers fresh insight into the genre, and explores ways these amazing cocktails can be enjoyed at home on a minimalist budget.”

A finalist for Best New Cocktail Book at Tales of the Cocktail 2020, this provides a blueprint for making Tiki cocktails: core ingredients, garnish techniques, as well as a thesis on rums with nearly 100 recipes from renowned Tiki bartenders without breaking the bank.

Try Garrison's favorite, the Angostura Colada, on Page 211.

Get "Minimalist Tiki" for $35.

Before You Go

"The Joy Of Mixology"

Cocktail Cookbooks

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