Holiday Gifts 2011

Potable Presents: Gifts for the Literary Boozer

Some of the year’s top reads from our local bar scene.

By Stephanie Rubesh December 9, 2011

A year’s bitter-sweet ending was never better.

Nosh without slosh can hardly be dubbed a full meal—but proper pairing is a skill, cocktail blending an art, and beer brewing a well-honed craft, that can, more often than not, intimidate. These alcohol-oriented books by Seattle authors (or with Seattle connections) make the perfect gift for readers who are well seasoned behind the bar, or taking those first unsure steps into the world of knowledgeable boozing. Our Nosh Pit literary gift guide is packed with food-oriented literary finds too.

Back in 2009, Brad Thomas Parsons wrote an article about bitters for this very magazine, then promptly parlayed his passion into a book. Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All was released early this November and maps out the elixir’s journey from medicine to forgotten-hood, to renaissance, to current bar staple, Parsons writes knowledgeably and wittily about history, stories, recipes, cooking and the sweet revival of bitters.

"This may be the one book that beer-lovers can’t live without" says Culture magazine about The Oxford Companion To Beer. Truly, over the volume’s 920 pages, brewer and beer connoisseur Garrett Oliver covers everything from brewing processes to agricultural makeup to pub games to food pairing. Pike Brewing’s Charles Finkel, a forefather of our local brewing community, curated the images that illustrate the story of the golden beer tradition.

Local booze doyenne Maggie Savarino works her spirited magic both at the bar at Madison Park Conservatory and in her new book. The Seasonal Cocktail Companion: Recipes and Projects for Four Seasons of Drinking sheds new light on summer cherries, winter cranberries and your spice cabinet. Savarino breaks her recipes down into projects, using season-specific ingredients found at your local market, that are as creative as they are inspiring. She also doesn’t skip over the basics – there are chapters for equipment and prep, liquors, bitters, garnishes…there’s even a chapter for mother drinks (no, not drinks designed to give mom an early night).

Outside magazine editor Hampton Sides unarguably observed, “from sea to foaming sea, we’ve become a great Beer Hoisting Nation.” The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation could be your guide to the slowest, most exciting cross-country road trip you’ve ever taken. Christian DeBenedetti gives you the heads-and-thumbs-up on the most admirable beer cities, beer festivals, beer farms as well as best dive bars, breweries, and craft distilleries all over the U. S. of A, including a few picks here in Seattle.

Hankering for a book with sizzle and intrigue? Anything titled Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz holds promise. If the title doesn’t get you, the beckoning introduction of “Shhh…I have a secret,” should earn your attention. Mixologist and prolific local cocktail writer A.J. Rathbun delivers a collection of 200-plus recipes for cocktails new and old. Organized by flavor, the text dabbles in the boozy worlds of citrus, floral, spice, fruit and nuts with a guide that is humorous as he is clear and easy to follow.

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