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I’ll admit that I’m the first person to fall for a good cocktail. All that artisanal mixology stuff? Love it. Homemade bitters, aperol, muddled herbs and veggies? Sign me up.

Here’s the thing (or things): I love the artistry and ritual. But speciality cocktails are also gonna run somewhere between 10 and 20 dollars (depending in which zip code you happen to be imbibing) and are usually pretty strong, so I’m not going to be slamming them down. So, I drink slowly and don’t spend as much (at least in theory). And, as I own a wine bar with a pretty killer beer list when I go out I like a cocktail. I can be a little, um, critical of other wine/beer lists if I feel that they’re overpriced or don’t offer enough of a varied selection. I get to drink great wine and beer on a daily basis (and no, great has nothing to do with the price point – one of my favorites is the always-great Le Charmel from Tortoise Creek which is an ever so reasonable $6 a glass) so when I’m out with friends, I tend to gravitate towards booze.

My brother has this great cocktail book called Shake if you’ve feeling inspired. My favorite for this time of year (read: cold) is a maple rosemary whiskey sour. Basically, you muddle fresh rosemary with the maples syrup and add whisky and lemon juice in the ratio of your desire. I tend to enjoy my sours truly sour, but your tastebuds may want less lemon juice and more maple syrup for a sweeter version of this drink.

I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in cocktails and entertaining. The photographs are beautiful and the recipes are delicious, yet simple to make. The authors break them down by season (obviously, the emphasis is on using what’s fresh and available) and the introduction on how to set up a bar has some solid advice and suggestions for what to buy. A great gift for you or the person in your life who wants to up their at-home bartending game.

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