Books & Booze: Holiday Gift Guide Edition

by: Sara Bozich
December 8, 2016

My family has long tradition of book sharing, whether swapping paperbacks at the beach or gifting would-be heirloom classics.

We’ve long laughed at my dad who almost strictly has given us only a book or bottle of booze (or sometimes both!) for Christmas.

Thus, this post seemed particular fitting for this time of year. Think of these as optimal gift-giving ideas, pairing a bottle with a great book — providing double the amusement for the giftee.



Read: Gone with the Gin: Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist by Tim Federle

Drink: Thistle Finch Market Alley Gin (or other Pennsylvania gin)

My mom got me Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, when it came out a few years ago. Though it mostly features classic cocktails renamed to smartly pair with classic literature, it’s a beautiful and fun book that will be a lovely addition to his or her cocktail cart.

Naturally, movie hound friends will be thrilled with Federle’s newer version, theming cocktail recipes to Hollywood favorites. The perfect go-to for winter’s award show parties!

Wrap a bottle of gin with a bow, and add it to the basket so your reicipient has a head start. We always recommend Hendrick’s — the gin-hater’s gin — but something local would be great.

Read: Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It by Sark

Drink: Rosé

Many moons ago, someone gifted me a Sark workbook, and though I never used it as much as I would have liked, I yearn for it sometimes. I grew up journaling, though I’ve mostly lost my taste (and commitment) for it, I do miss putting pen to paper and the creative freedoms that allowed.

Today, I occasionally have urges to write or sketch just for me, but it’s often hard to get started. Sark’s workbooks are filled with fun, dreamy and uplifting prompts and messages to encourage any one to write or draw to his or her heart’s content.

This is a great gift for a young adult, an aspiring blogger or writer — and dreamers and would-be artists may find an outlet in Sark’s Journal and Play!book: A Place to Dream While Awake.

If you’re giving this to someone under 21, pair it with a 3-pack of NatureWise Whole Body Vitality Drinks to encourage stress relief and enhance focus.

For legal adults, something light and encouraging, like rosé, is a good fit. (Yes you can drink rosé all year long.) If that doesn’t suit you, perhaps a mixed-6 from your favorite local brewer is just the right thing to inspire creativity.

Micah, Music Contributor,

Read: Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color by Chuck Palahniuk

Drink: Thistle Finch Small Batch White Rye

My favorite author of all time came out with another book of short stories — only this time, it doubles as an adult coloring book!

If you’ve never read any Chuck Palahniuk you’ve probably at least seen Fight Club, which was written by Chuck.

The illustrations are done by Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy) and Lee Bermejo (The Suiciders) fame, and the short stories, in true Palahniuk fashion, are not for the faint at heart!

I’ll be grabbing my colored pencils and, a few tumblers of Thistle Finch Small Batch White Rye whiskey for a few evenings of reading and coloring fun! This un-aged small batch has a beautiful spicy flavor made with locally sourced ingredients.

Read: Home by Harlan Coben

Drink: Zeroday Brewing Co. Grievance

Only in the past few years have I realized I am a sucker for a crime thriller novel. I stumbled upon Harlan Coben when I randomly purchased his book “Missing You” and ended up reading it in one day. His new book “Home” was just released in September and has been on my “must read” list since.

Pair a good crime thriller with Zeroday Brewing’s annual brew Grievance, an 8.5 ABV winter warmer with cinnamon and vanilla, which is set to release in December in the tasting room. I plan on filling a few crowlers and enjoying another great story by Coben.

Lauren Gutshall, WSET Level 3 Wine Connoisseur

Read: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Drink: Spiked Eggnog

The holidays can be stressful: so much shopping, wrapping, socializing, and family time. It can all be overwhelming, and everyone could use a little humor to take the edge off.

David Sedaris’ sardonic take on Christmas, Holidays on Ice, is the perfect gift for the cynic in your life. It opens with a story about Sedaris’s experience working as one of Santa’s elves in Macy’s, a story he has told and retold on NPR. The collection of essays takes on a variety of holiday traditions.

David Sedaris writes hilarious short stories largely based on personal experiences and his slightly dysfunctional family. Essays range from childhood memories to more recent occurrences while living abroad.

Holidays on Ice is a quick read, so while you’re at it, pick up Me Talk Pretty One Day, When You are Engulfed in Flames, or his most recent collection, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

All of his short stories should be enjoyed with a nice bourbon or scotch on the rocks.

Or in the case of Holidays on Ice, a nice glass of spiked Egg Nog to get you in the spirit.

Read: The Roald Dahl Collection

Drink: Hot Chocolate

I know this is supposed to be a post on books and booze, but I love giving books my nieces and nephews. I like to choose authors who I fell in love with as a young reader – Shel Silverstein, Beverly Cleary, and still one of my personal favorites, Roald Dahl.

This Roald Dahl collection includes The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and a book that still remains on my top 10 list of all-time favorite books, Matilda. And what else would you pair with a collection that includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but hot chocolate with marshmallows and a peppermint stick?

Jimi, The Intern,

Read: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Drink: Smoking Bishop

I’ve seen the movie/play versions in a variety of different formats more times than I would actually care to admit. In fact, by the time this is posted, there’s a good chance I’ve already watched it a few times. Muppet Christmas Carol or “Scrooge” are my top adaptations.

Through all of those viewings, I have always wanted to get the first-hand experience of reading the original words from Dickens himself. It’s nothing new and exciting, but I am anxious to dive in, and potentially start a new holiday tradition.

It was said that Dickens preferred a sweet mulled wine called a Smoking Bishop and actually mentions the drink in A Christmas Carol. The recipe seems a bit complicated for me, but who knows, maybe I’ll give it a shot one chilly night.

Beer will always be a go-to, but when the weather gets colder and Christmas lights start to go up, I usually turn to a glass of wine to end the night.

Recently I have been on a Spanish and Chilean red wine kick and that will probably continue throughout the winter months. There is also no shortage of Chianti at all of our family holiday gatherings.

Tierney, Craft Beer Contributor,

Read: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Drink: Piña Colada or Fruit Beer, like Crystal Ball Cold Weather Wheat

What better time to dream of the beach than in the middle of winter. Make yourself a tiki beverage, I prefer pina coladas, and forget about cold and snow for a while. While Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun may be set in sunny Jamaica, the story isn’t entirely a vacation. The main character is doing everything she can to prevent her younger sister from succumbing to the way of life they are taught early on: sacrificing your body for survival. At the same time, she is struggling with her own sexuality and must search deep inside herself to help them both.

There are two books on my Christmas list: one is Lists of Note (a collection of to-do lists, letters, and random notes) and Robert Masello: The Einstein Prophecy.

While you may not enjoy a quirky book of lists, the latter should be a blip on your radar. Amazon describes it as a “thrilling, page-turning adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.” A mix of war, Egyptian sarcophagi, archaeology, and mystery I can’t wait to read this book, assuming Santa drops it off, I promise I was a good girl.


Read: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Drink: Cranberry Cider Smash (recipe below)

Generally, I’m the first person to scoff at the celebrity memoir trend. What on earth makes all these actors think we’re that interested in their lives? I mean, besides the fact that there are million dollar industries built around documenting and communicating to us every time T.Swift drinks a PSL at Starbucks … but really, what besides that?

In this case, however, as I have an enormous girl crush on Anna Kendrick I will make an exception. Pitch Perfect was perfection. She rose to the challenge of facing off with Clooney in Up in the Air. And have you seen her Twitter account?? (Go. Follow her.)

So over the holiday I’ll be curling up with Kendrick’s memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody. I’m hoping that the humor and relatability that drew me to follow Kendrick on social media are enough to hold my interest through at least a few of the essays, if not the whole book.

To go along with what I expect to be a sassy read, I’ll be drinking a Cranberry Cider Smash. It’s festive and seasonal. A little bit tart and a little bit sweet. I came up with this recipe to highlight Midstate Distillery’s moonshine, but you could use any moonshine, or even substitute bourbon or rye for a different take.

Cranberry Cider Smash, makes 2 drinks

  • 20 fresh cranberries
  • 1 oz lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz Midstate Distillery moonshine
  • 5 oz apple cider

Muddle the cranberries, lime juice, mint and sugar. Add moonshine, apple cider and a handful of ice. Shake. Serve over ice, preferably crushed.

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