Table of Contents:
This page contains many of the resources that I have used as part of my education on distilled spirits, cocktails, bartending, and anything else related to being a part of this industry. I hope you find these as helpful for your journey as they have been for mine. And definitely let me know if there’s anything I should add!
Note: There are affiliate links within this list that earn a small commission for any purchases made at no cost to you. However I stand by everything on this list as something I use/own/attended/etc. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Artisan Spirit Magazine – A distilling magazine for distillers and spirits enthusiasts.
Cocktail Wonk – The blog of writer Matt Pietrek, who has quickly become a knowledgable and respected writer in the industry. I know the name has cocktail in it but his blog is a mixture of distillery visits, spirits reviews, and very in-depth analyses of liquor rules/regulations throughout the world with some cocktail/bar visits sprinkled in. His main focus is on rum, though other spirits are covered. If you’re looking to get real deep dive on distilling, look here.
Distiller Magazine – A more in-depth and longform distilling magazine specifically for people in the industry. This gets into the nitty-gritty a bit more.
K&L Spirits Journal – A great industry blog from David Driscoll at K&L Wines. Provides a unique look at the spirits industry from a retail perspective.
Nomunication – If you are going to be visting Japan ever consult this blog for inormation on distilleries/
The Spirits Business – This website covers almost every facet of the spirits industry. Features, interviews with key people, product releases and event news. Definitely a better resource for news from the financial side of things, covering acquisitions and major changes in the spirits world.
Imbibe – Magazine for all things about the beverage industry.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler – A blog for bartenders by an extremely talented bartender who was one of the leaders at the start of the craft cocktail movement.
Punch – Another beverage industry magazine. Great longform feature articles too.
Tales Of The Cocktail – A great craft resource and the group that was a gigantic part of spreading the cocktail movement. Chalk full of interviews and articles with helpful information on cocktails, bartending, distilling, and everything in between. Also throws an industry convention in New Orleans every year that I am dying to attend one day.
The Bar Book – One of the first books of the cocktail boom by Jeff Morgenthaler. We had this at the first distillery I ever worked for as a bartender so I would always flip through the pages when the tasting room was quiet. It’s a definitive resources for any new bartenders looking to start going deeper.
Bitters – Another book we at the distillery that I spent a lot of time flipping through. I know everyone bitters these days but it’s a great introduction to making bitters and a lot of concepts that can apply to spirits as well.
By the Smoke and the Smell: My Search for the Rare and Sublime on the Spirits Trail – Thad Vogler is a champion of small, independent distillers and their unique creations. This is a great read focused on small batch, grower-made spirits and the people who make them as well as an great travel read.
The Cocktail Bar: Notes for an Owner & Operator – Chall Grey gives a great breakdown of everything you need to be thinking about when opening a cocktail bar. Definitely more a big-picture guide or a starting point, but from someone who has been part of an opening bar team it gets your gears turning about all of the right components of a cocktail bar.
I Hear She’s a Real Bitch – I can’t say I have been to either of Jen Agg’s restaurants yet, but her book gives a great look into the tumultuous nature of starting and running a restaurant, especially as a woman in an industry that had (and still has) major issues with sexism that need to be addressed. Definitely stopping by when I am next in Toronto.
The Sake Handbook – Sake has become fairly common throughout the US, but most people don’t know too much about what it is or how it is made. This book by John Gaunter is a great entry point for learning more.
The Shochu Handbook – I would not be surprised if you haven’t even heard of Shochu before. It is a distilled spirit found in Japan that has mainly remained inaccessible outside of the country until fairly recently. Nowadays I am starting to find it in the US more often so I definitely recommend searching it out. It’s a very interesting and complex spirit with a lot of different variations. This book by Chris Pellegrini is a great English resource for learning about shochu’s orgins and how it is made.
Whisky Rising – I’m not going to lie, this book is a bit of an undertaking. It is a comprehensive and very large volume all about the whisky distillers in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken. But I bought it before my first trip to Japan and found it helpful for trying to visit as many distilleries as I could with my limited time. The author is also part of a blog called Nonjatta that isn’t active anymore but has a lot of great information on Japanese whisky.
White Mule Press – This is the ADI’s publishing arm. They have a selection of distilling books, many of which aren’t available anywhere else or are older texts. Definitely worth looking through.
Bartender at Large – A blog/weekly podcast started by Erik Castro, who runs Polite Provisions in San Diego. This is a great source of firsthand industry experience from talented bartenders/bar owners and spirits industry veterans.
In The Drink – Hosted by Joe Campanale (Fausto), this is a weekly podcast focused on all things alcoholic beverages. While there is a bit of a wine focus since Joe is a well known sommelier there are plenty of spirits/cocktail/etc. focused episodes to keep you busy.
Still Talking Podcast – A podcast focused on distilling run by three guys who work in the industry. Slightly vulgar, pretty funny, and extremely insightful into what’s going on right now. Also very helpful for people trying to learn more about distilling.
The Speakeasy – Another great podcast from Heritage Radio Network, this one hosted by Damon Boelte (Grand Army Bar) and Sother Teague (Amor y Amargo). Each week they interview leaders in the beverage field and discuss spirits/cocktail/etc.
BarSmarts – This is a good online training program for someone just starting out with cocktails and bartending (It does cost $30 though).
Moonshine University – This is a great training resource based in Louisville for distilling and upping your spirits knowledge. The classes are on the more expensive side for sure, but definitely worth the investment.
Sake Professional Course – This is a sake certification program offered by John Gaunter, a sake expert who teaches throughout the US and Japan. Highly recommend the course if you are interested in sake, I found it very interesting and John is a great teacher. The rest of his website is filled with information on sake as well.
Springbank Whisky School – Springbank is one of the few distillers left in Scotland that does every step of production on site and makes some amazing whisky as a result. It’s also one of the few distilleries that offers a program like this. There is currently a waiting list, but the experience combined with a reasonable price makes this worth it for any serious whisky fan.
ADI Forums – Anyone serious about distilling needs to stop here. Advice and answers for pretty much any question you will have while starting up a distillery or making spirits. The job board is also the best and most up to date source for distilling positions.
r/alcohol – This will take you to subreddit links for essentially any and every spirit that exists outside of a few obscure categories. Take what you learn here with a grain of salt since it’s an anonymous community, but it can be a helpful resource if you have questions no one seems to have the answers to.
r/bartenders – Bartending insights from all walks of life.
r/cocktails – More of a home bar focus, but plenty of interesting recipes and helpful information on making drinks.