Holiday Guide: Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Books

The entertainer's shelf helps boost your festive spirits

Speaking of Papa, Mr. Hemingway is both the subject of and the inspiration for a creative new cocktail companion by Philip Greene called To Have and Have Another (Perigee, $24). Greene, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail and an obvious fan of the author, has produced a bartender's manual for fellow Hemingway enthusiasts, an alphabetically organized compendium of the drinks consumed by the characters in The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, A Moveable Feast, and many of Hemingway's other novels and short stories.

But Greene's book is much more than recipes and references to drinking scenes in some of the best-known works of American fiction. We also get anecdotes, photos, and biographical details about the Nobel-winning author, plus such details as a note Hemingway scribbled to his publisher on the back of a photo of himself on skis in the Swiss Alps: "This is to reassure you if you hear reports of another of your authors dying of drink." Greene also reveals that Hemingway's fondness for champagne and absinthe led him to contribute a potent recipe called "Death in the Afternoon" to a celebrity cocktail book published in 1935. He also offers evidence of Papa's impressive constitution by citing two letters in which the author—who had previously survived a bull goring in Spain and would go on to walk away from two plane crashes in Africa—describes an afternoon in Havana. As Hemingway tells it, he and a friend consumed two steak sandwiches and "17 double frozen daiquiris apiece." Which brings us to a pair of themes repeated throughout the book, and which apply to any successful holiday party: Large quantities of alcohol should always be accompanied by food, and no one should ever attempt to break a drinking record set by Ernest Hemingway.

Instead of pouring another round at the end of the party, then, the prudent entertainer knows to have something to eat at the ready, waiting for guests who have found their appetite at the bottom of the glass. And if your drink list has leaned toward beer over wine and spirits, Allagash: The Cookbook (Blue Tree, $35), by chef James Simpkins with photographs by Brian Smestad, is the assistant to turn to for help in the kitchen. Chosen to complement 10 of the brewery's complex Belgian-style ales, the 50 recipes in this book include cuisine from every corner of the country, from tropical lobster rolls matched with crisp and fruity Allagash White to stuffed poblano peppers paired with the dry, somewhat nutty Allagash Dubbel. So before sending all of your invitees back out into the cold, think about steering them to a table topped with plates of chocolate spice cookies, ginger-plum cake, licorice custard with shortbread, and chocolate-malt-bacon water chestnuts. Because though your guests might not be able to recall every drink you poured for them the next morning, they certainly won't forget the last thing they ate.

« Previous Page