Thursday, February 9, 2012

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Bar and Cocktail Library up for Sale

A secondhand story came to me from a friend of Louis Szathmary, the great cookbook and culinary ephemera collector. Szathmary, owner of over 10,000 food and drinks books in addition to some 17 semi-trailers of culinary postcards, kitchen tools, dining sets, drinking vessels, and more explained his desire to hand over his collections as he grew older. “Every collector,” he said “has two great joys. The first is the hunt. The second comes later; it is giving away the prize.”

If you collect historical cocktail and drinks material and have not yet reached the point where you wish to divest yourself of your collections, there’s good news: the hunt is on.

Cocktologists would kill you in your sleep for just one
Brian Rea, onetime bartender at New York’s 21 Club and the Little Club, was tending bar back in the Mad Men days and later developed bar management programs for UCLA and Cal Poly University. He came to be known, by those in the know, as having one of the most extensive collections of bartending books in the world. Most of that collection is now in Germany, but Brian emailed earlier this week with word that he’s ready to sell off the remainder.

He writes:
About five years ago I sold the bulk of my Barchives Library and Collection, and I am offering for sale, the balance of the collection, which consists of:
  • 300 plus Cocktail books, many of them quite scarce
  • “21 Club” collection
Plus artwork, old labels, discontinued liquor brands, bar utensils, ephemera and other good stuff. If there is additional information about any of these items desired, just contact me at my email address,

This unique collection could be an excellent reference library for book collectors, distillers, importers, U.S. Bartender Guild Chapters, liquor distributors, Hotel Restaurant Administration colleges, etc.

I prefer to sell the collection in its entirety, as that enhances the value of the entire library, but if that is not possible, will sell same by category, or possibly by individual books online, and in chronological sequence.

If you are interested in obtaining a list of the collections contents, please send an email to to obtain a copy. I will be posting the date of the sale on February 21, 2012, as well as the method of bidding.
As you may know, I'm a food and drink book collector myself. I’ve just bought a house, though, and dipped into the book budget to do it, so I won’t be buying Brian’s collection. Before Germany claims the rest, you may want to email him.

Please note: I’ve got nothing to do with the sale, can’t answer questions about titles, conditions, prices, methods of payment, or any of that. I’m just passing on word. Follow Brian’s directions above for getting in touch with him and check out his website, (where, I imagine, more details will be forthcoming).

Happy hunting.

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