If you’re in the process of making your list and checking it twice, we have a suggestion: the gift that can please almost anybody — a cocktail book and a bottle of liquor. Both educational (learn about cocktails) and actionable (make cocktails), lasting (a book) and ephemeral (a bottle to drink), the combo gift hits the sweet spot.
The latest crop of cocktail books provides a wealth from which to choose. Here are our favorites along with bottles that would make an excellent pairing:
Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas
Go beyond Campari and Fernet Branca with this primer on the bittersweet liqueurs that are near inescapable in the modern bartending scene. Pick up a bottle of Amaro Montenegro or Ramazzotti for sipping alongside the text.
Legendary bartender Sasha Petraske jumpstarted the cocktail renaissance when he opened Milk & Honey, a speakeasy-style bar in New York. It’s hard to overstate the influence the unmarked bar would have — from self-imposed rules (“Gentlemen will remove their hats”) to the return of well-made classic cocktails to the education of a new fleet of bartenders. Petraske passed away unexpectedly last year, but his wife, Georgette Moger-Petraske, helped finish this excellent book, which outlines his philosophies and tips for setting up a home bar as well as his best recipes. Bundle this book with a rye whiskey, such as Old Overholt, for the foundations of a classic Old Fashioned.
Nothing catching your fancy? Try one of these new books, which we already recommended this year: