Drinking with Saint Nick: Christmas Cocktails for Sinners and Saints is a natural idea for a seasonal cocktail guide: Collect holiday-appropriate recipes and bundle them into one, Christmas-friendly tome. Note that does not mean that Michael P. Foley stuffs this book with peppermint-flavored cocktails, mulled wine, and eggnog variants — though all three make appearances in the book. The book really runs the gamut from classic cocktails that have a holiday connection (though this is often tenuous, usually related to the name of the drink) to seasonal sippers with ingredients that are particularly festive.
It makes for a somewhat scattered experience, as the book is not organized by ingredients but rather by the calendar. Foley starts with the beginning of Advent on December 1, then walks you day by day through the entire month of December and on through the 12 days of Christmas, pairing beverages with each day. Most of these drinks are tied to one saint or another who is remembered on that day (a Catholic thing, I guess). In addition to cocktails, Foley recommends specific beers and wines that fit the theme.
As an example of how this works, let’s look at the book’s namesake: St. Nicholas, who is celebrated on December 6 each year. Foley offers a couple of pages on the history of the man and his miracles, while suggesting how booze might be used to pay homage to his legacy. Cocktails range from a rum toddy to a spiced wine to two original drinks designed for the book. The section closes out with beer and wine selections, as noted, plus a toast to “the real Santa Claus.”
While Drinking with Saint Nick feels like it’s supposed to be a little more serious than it actually is, it’s still a fun little guide to keep on the coffee table during the season, flippable and skimmable and digestable in small chunks, one night at a time. I’d recommend it as a stocking stuffer, but by then you would have missed all the fun stuff.
B+ / $14 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]