Top-shelf books are pouring in to ensure you'll drink well this holiday season.
Here's a sip:
"World's Best Ciders" (Sterling Epicure, $30) by Pete Brown and Bill Bradshaw, is an amply illustrated, accessible guide to a rapidly growing segment of drinksworld, one that goes back at least to ancient Rome and started blooming under Charlemagne. The authors know their apples, from Europe and coast-to-coast; and hard ciders everywhere.
"The Complete Beer Course" (Sterling Epicure, $24.95) by Joshua M. Bernstein, hops along, from figuring out the grains and brewing process to serving beer and what you should look for in the suds. It's like Oktoberfest in print, with good profiles, descriptions, recommendations and enough reasons to take a vacation in Belgium, or at least Brooklyn.
"Gin: The Bartender's Bible" (Firefly Books, $39.95) by Simon Difford will make you appreciate that next Negroni or Singapore Sling even more. Full of social history, explanation, details about assorted distilleries and types, plus plenty of ratings to differentiate brand from brand. Juniper triumphant.
"American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit" (Sterling Epicure, $24.95) by Clay Risen, will test whether you really know Jack. Risen provides 100 proof history and really gets going with tasting and more than 200 critiques, from Ancient Age to Woodford Reserve, including the pride of Baiting Hollow, Pine Barrens Single Malt Whiskey.
"American Wine Economics" (University of California, $39.95), by James Thornton, studies the U.S. wine industry with insight and perspective, examining markets, cost, consumers and demand. Not light reading, but, in its own way, a sobering analysis.