I posted this in another thread so sorry its just a copy paste, but very relevant---
~~I dont recommend bartending school. i haven't been personally, but you dont need to pay for the education if you work at the right bar. I learned everything while getting paid.~~
Death and Co makes amazing books to teach and inspire how to make great unique cocktails. The modern classics covers the fundamentals of bar tools and all the philosophy, plus theres a bunch of neat recipes. They also have a codex thats super interesting in that they simplify and break down the origins of most cocktails. Everything is a riff on a classic, in one way or another.
Another one I like is from Smugglers Cove in San Fransisco (i think?) This book touches more into tiki and tropical cocktails, but its a lot of fun and there are plenty of great cocktails without super esoteric ingredients.
On the opposite end of the relax tiki book is this book from Grant Achatz, 3 Michelin starred chef of Alinea in Chicago (hence the pricy book). He also owns bars in Chicago and New York, and have some of the most exceptional drinks I've ever had. He's big on molecular gastronomy, wether its juice filled caviar balls, dry ice used to chill your drink tableside (with lots of smoke) or this tableside infusion. A lot of it is super over the top and not necessary, but for presentations sake its incredible. really innovative and inspiring
~~Sorry for the lengthy post, but I suggest that if you want to get into cocktails and mixology, find a nice restaurant with a cocktail program. If you're near a big city, try bar backing at a nice cocktail spot or restaurant, it'll help you kind of see things from the outside for a bit and will make it all less daunting.~~
I've been there on a few occasions and liked it so much, I ordered their book. Great stuff. I highly recommend both the the bar and the book. Thanks for sharing.
That book, and Death & Co's first book, "Modern Classic Cocktails" , are good reads for the person who is a fan of quality cocktails and wants to make something at home that's really good, and frequently better than what you get when you're dining out.
You will likely need to invest in some booze and stuff to be able to fully enjoy them, but just pick a drink a week, buy what you need, and pretty soon you'll have a collection that will allow you to make most of the things in the books.