Staying current, the old fashioned way

There are magazines for every hobby, trade or interest nowadays – and bartending is no different. If you’re looking for a way to pass the time en route to your next shift, (or if you’re looking for a gift idea for that bartender in your life…) a old fashioned paper magazine might be just the ticket!

Print magazines can be a great way to stay current on what’s happening in the world of cocktails, bartending, and the hospitality industry – and they don’t use up any of your monthly data plan. They work even when your phone is out of power and you’re zooming through a dead zone on your subway to work. (What is this technology!)

So which magazines should you get?  Great question!

Frequency: 6 Issues/yr

Price: $21.95/yr

Read Online: iTunes and Google Play

While this one is admittedly not designed primarily for bartenders, Imbibe Magazine is all about drinks. It’s beautifully produced, looks nice enough to keep a collection on your bookshelf, and every issue comes with great well-researched stories about great drinks, new ingredients, and interesting people in the world of drinks. A great gift for anyone who loves to drink, whether it’s booze, wine, beer or coffee.

By Bartenders, for Bartenders: Chilled Magazine

Frequency: 6 Issues/yr

Price: Free for “qualified beverage trade members, including bartenders and mixologists, spirits producers, importers, retailers, distributors, wine and spirits companies, restaurateurs and hoteliers, distilleries, wineries, breweries, public relations staff, etc.”

Read Online: iTunes and Google Play

I find Chilled Magazine to be a little more focused on industry news. From “who’s doing what” to “what we’re drinking” and “what’s happening”, this magazine is much more focused on what’s happening right now in the industry. This is a great resource for seasonal cocktail ideas, information about new products on the market, and what’s happening with the movers and shakers in the industry.

While I find Chilled Magazine to be lighter reading than some of the other magazines on this list, its price tag is pretty persuasive. Plus, it is specifically for bartenders. So if you’re in the industry, it’s definitely worth picking up a free subscription (or checking out the free online versions instead).

For the Wine & Booze Industry Insider: The Tasting Panel

Frequency: 3 Issues/yr

Price: $36/yr for consumers or free to “qualified beverage trade members, including wineries, spirits producers, importers, retailers, distributors, bartenders and mixologists, wine and spirits sale forces, restaurateurs and hoteliers, public relations staff, etc.”

Read Online: Read the most recent issue by clicking here and then clicking on the issue cover at the top of the column on the right side.

Definitely more trade-focused, I find the Tasting Panel to be much more focused on the beverage industry as a whole. What new products have hit the US market recently? Which high level executive has switched companies? What scholarships / competitions / charitable campaigns have recently been announced? While this magazine feels more focused on the brand side of the industry, it can definitely still be  valuable read for the bartender looking to stay current on what’s available in the industry and what’s happening to the brands they use at their bar.

The “At a Glance” Reader: Bartender Magazine

Frequency: 3 Issues/yr

Price: $30/yr or $50/2yr but available free online

Read Online: Back issues available here

I don’t personally subscribe to this magazine myself (as the free options above are so good!) but I couldn’t skip “Bartender Magazine” in a list of magazines for bartenders. I did review some of the back issues available on their website. This magazine is a bit ad-heavy for my taste, but offers quite a few great cocktail recipes throughout, as well as a few editorial features and recurring columns.

Other Booze-Specific Publications

If you’re less interested in the profession of bartending and more interested in a specific spirit or drink, here are some other great options to consider:
Wine & Spirits Magazine: 8 Issues/yr, $29.95/yr
Whisky Advocate: 4 Issues/yr, $22.00/yr
All About Beer Magazine: 6 Issues/yr, $24.95
Beer Advocate Magazine, 12 Issues/yr, $1.99/mo or $19.99/yr
Wine Enthusiast: 13 Issues/yr, $29.95/yr
Wine Spectator: 12 Issues/yr, $19.95

I think for industry folks & bartenders, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for the free subscription to Chilled magazine for sure, and consider Tasting Panel as well. It gives you something to read during your off hours and keeps you up to date on what’s happening in the industry as well!

Julia Tunstall

Julia Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and Chief Cocktail Taster. She's in charge of keeping things running smoothly around here, but you'll also find her stopping by on the Mixology Talk Podcast or hanging around the Craft Cocktail Club.