Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle, by Mark Spivak. An intoxicating little tome that puts moonshine into historical context and introduces legendary bootleggers, as well as today’s modern moonshiners. A thoughtful gift for someone considering getting one of those Moroccan mini stills—you know, “for display.” Lyons Press, $17.
Skinnygirl Cocktails: 100 Fun & Flirty Guilt-Free Recipes, by Bethenny Frankel. A stocking stuffer for the vodka-soda set. Honestly, she lost me early, somewhere between “Fun” and “Flirty.” But then this isn’t for me. It’s a gift. For the girl who hates the taste of booze, but likes the way it makes her feel. Should we tell her that Skinnygirl booze only appears reduced in calories because of its lower proof? Maybe after the holidays. Simon & Schuster, $15.
The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail with Recipes and Lore, by Robert Simonson. Essential reading for anyone who serves or enjoys Old-Fashioneds, so as to better understand the drink’s progenitor, the Whiskey Cocktail. It might even change the way the world spells “Old-Fashioned”! Ten Speed Press, $19.
The French Quarter Drinking Companion: A Guide to Bars in America’s Most Eclectic Neighborhood, by Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce and Richard Read. A thoughtful gift for someone heading to our sister city, New Orleans, in 2015 as it offers a realistic preview of the bars in and around the French Quarter, from what you’re swilling to with whom you’ll be swilling it. Pelican, $23.
Proof: The Science of Booze, by Adam Rogers. Along with Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol and The History of the World in Six Glasses, Proof completes a kind of advanced home course on the nerdier aspects of booze, but in easily swallowed chapters: Yeast, Sugar, Fermentation, etc. Expect the reader to regale you with liquor facts and lore for some time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.
The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival, by Matt Teacher. Part gin-cyclopedia, part recipe book, The Spirit of Gin winds its way through history, craftsmanship, gin in mixology and the current, deliciously diverse state of gin. An easy, fun read. Cider Mill Press, $25.
The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. The Clyde Commons barman spits straight talk and time-tested skills—better ice, stirring and shaking technique, egg-white use—that can be implemented immediately. More than just essential reading, these are essential bar skills, distilled. Chronicle Books, $30.