Although this title is out-of-print, I recently obtained a copy and want to put a good word in for it. Having taken a cocktail class from the author, David Wondrich, I can testify that he is a genuine cocktail savant as well as a really nice guy.
I purchased a copy of "Esquire Drinks" at LeNell's and find it to be the most approachable of the cocktail "bibles" I own, e.g. Joy of Mixology, Craft of the Cocktail, Savoy, Mr. Boston, etc. While not encyclopedic, it contains lots of drinks, and as Spencer Tracy might say, what there is, is "cherce." The Manhattan is presented as one of the Four Pillars of Cocktail Wisdom and the Whiskey Age is one of the periods of American Drink History. The layout is very user friendly and historically based without being dry.
If you want to acquire a little wisdom along with your drink recipes, this is the book. And it's fun and attractive to boot.
"There exist mighty dogs, the dangerous kind who take hold of your heart and do not let go."