Although I consider myself a fairly skilled home cook, one of my favorite cookbooks is Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollencamp, which, although aimed first at people who are just learning their way around the kitchen, has plenty to recommend it for those of us who've been cooking for years. Mollencamp covers the basics, serves up straightforward (but never boring) recipes, and then explains how to build and riff on them.
I get the same vibe from the awesome and accessible The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks, by brother-and-sister duo André and Tenaya Darlington. The driving force behind the book is the desire to make the idea of mixing up your own craft cocktails at home an appealing and approachable one, whether you're starting from scratch with the three basic bottles the authors recommend or already have a fair amount of experience as a home bartender.
The first part of the book is divided chronologically, with recipes for classics from the earliest days of the cocktail (think cobblers and crustas) through the modern day, followed by a section dedicated to seasonal and thematic cocktails—tiki drinks, Champagne-based drinks, and dessert drinks, for example.
Once they've covered the cocktails, the Darlingtons move on to recipes for mixers and accompaniments—from simple syrup to, kid you not, méthode Champenoise ginger beer. Don't want to brew your own ginger beer? No worries: they recommend their favorites that require no more work than popping a cap, and also include comprehensive notes on what to look for in all kinds of spirits, with their brand suggestions for each.
If I had to pick the one thing I like best about The New Cocktail Hour, I'd say, Nope: can't choose just one. Here are two: I love the fact that each recipe includes a flavor profile, a la wine tasting notes, and I also love the interesting, fun, and fact-filled intro to each recipe. I read this book as my bedtime story for several weeks, so awesome and engaging was it. (Also? So much more cheerful than the bedtime book I'm currently reading about Soviet prison camps.)
Whether you're new to mixing drinks at home or are an old hand who's ready to try new things, The New Cocktail Hour has a lot to recommend it. And if you'll forgive me for raising the specter of the holidays already, I'll just say that it—perhaps along with, oh, I don't know, some amazing vintage cocktail ware—would make a seriously fantastic gift for your fave cocktail lover.