The Internet and all it’s various uses mean that those on your gifting list may not always been in the same town (or even country) as you. While it’d be great to share a holiday cocktail with friends far and near, sometimes you might have to settle for the next best thing: cocktail-related gifts. And since I’m also an avid reader, books on the subject are a favorite of mine. Here’s a short list of some I’ve plucked from my own shelf that might just strike a chord with someone on your list.
Swell Holiday by Cynthia Rowley and Ilene Rosenzweig
Remember when Target started to carry all their chic home furnishings with a nod to the 50s and 60s (the good parts)? Cynthia and Ilene are the women behind the Swell line of books and products and their Swell Holiday book is a nice slim volume with all sorts of neat tips, ideas and recipes (both food and drinks!) for entertaining during the winter holidays. Some gems include using Rice Krispies treats and marshmallow fluff to built your “gingerbread” dream home, substitute glow sticks for electric lights in the tree and coming up with just about anything other than a basket for a themed basket-like gift!
Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist by A.J. Rathbun
Since purchasing this book, it’s become the first one I reach for if I start thinking about a drink (or ingredient) and wondering if something like it already exists. Not only does it have plenty of recipes for the home bartender or cocktail enthusiast, almost all of them come with some sort of witty introduction that takes this book from a mere collection of recipes to something you want to curl up on the couch with and read like a novel.
Absolut: Biography of a Bottle by Carl Hamilton
I think it’s safe to say that practically everyone knows the Absolut bottle. In an industry where packaging is generally over the top and exploited for the best possible shelf-recognition, this vodka managed to take something fairly simple and make it into their symbol. More than just the story of the ad campaign, this is the story of a brand building itself and the times it did it in. An interesting read from several standpoints, I picked this up from a bargain bin, I think, and was so glad I did because the story is just amazing.
Merry Kitschmas: The Ultimate Holiday Handbook by Michael D Conway
Traditional Christmas decorations and celebrations got you down? Wanna spice up your holiday or convince those pesky in-laws they don’t ever want to visit again? Following the advice in Merry Kitchsmas can do all that and more besides. My friend gave this to me as more of a joke one year than anything–I’m fairly traditional, after all–but I adore it’s tacky abandon from afar and have considered using some of their techniques in a more subdued fashion more than once. Featuring all sorts of odd-ball decorations and recipes, many of the cocktails even get the glue gun turned in their direction for the ultimate in deco-gone-wild effects. Even if you never make anything from it, it’s great to have around just for the pictures!
The Official Guide to Christmas in the South: Or, If You Can’t Fry It, Spraypaint It Gold by David C Barnette
While not *technically* a cocktail book, it’s so much fun that I thought I should include it, just to round out the list. Being from the South, I can safely laugh at, confirm and commiserate with some of the anecdotal stories in this book. Featuring great spot illustrations and a definite sense of whimsy (I absolutely love the idea of the “regifting food chain” chart on page 85), it’s a perfect gift for the displaced Southerner on your list.
And, since this IS a cocktail blog, here’s one of the cocktails from Merry Kitchsmas:
The Sugarplum Fairy
2 oz Citrus vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lemon juice
splash Cranberry juice
2 tsp sugar (plus extra for rimming the glass)
Blend all ingredients into a “pink icy slush.”
Rim a collins glass with sugar (colored sugar is even better). Pour in the contents of the blender and garnish as decoratively as possible.
The authors suggest hot glueing a ballerina cake pick to a pink swizzle stick and then inserting it into a straw (for stability, I suppose) then wrapping a piece of pink tulle around the bottom third of the glass and securing it with a rubber band to give the glass it’s own tutu.