Dec. 6 2013 06:25 PM

Wow friends and family with bitters, books and booze

    12-11 cocktails

    Bitters: A bottle of bitters is a perfect stocking stuffer. If you want to support a small local company with a damn-fine product, get a bottle or two of RX Bitters, currently available in two flavors—Aromatic #7 and Sarsaparilla. Cost is $18 per bottle, shipping included. Email

    The selection of bitters at K 'n B Wine Cellar (6380 Del Cerro Blvd. in Del Cerro) kicks ass. Some bottles that caught my eye included Bar Keep's Chinese bitters ($15) and two by Scrappy's Bitters: cardamom and lavender ($20 each). On the same shelf, you'll find Bittermen's shrubs ($20), bright flavorings that add depth to cocktails. Grab the Hellfire Habanero for someone who's a fan of heat.

    Books: The bookstore at the new San Diego Public Library in East Village carries Scout Books' Cocktail Hour Series, a three-pack of pocket-sized paperbacks ($11.95), each of which focuses on a different spirit. One pack is rum, gin and vodka, and the other is whiskey, brandy and tequila. Scout Books is based in Portland, and the books contain recipes from mostly Portland bartenders. They're cleverly illustrated, and, as the packaging attests, "100% awesome."

    If you're looking for something a little thicker, there's Amy Stewart's The Drunken Botanist. Published this past March, the book explores botany's ties to booze—how plants and such have, throughout history, been (literally) intoxicating. The cover is gorgeous, and the book includes recipes and gardening tips.

    Booze: In addition to the large bitters selection, K 'n B has a stunning booze selection, stretching 12 shelves up. If you're looking for it, they likely have it. My home bar's running low on vodka and gin, so I wouldn't mind getting a bottle of Prairie Organic Vodka—made from organic-grown Minnesota corn—under the tree or some Leopold's Small Batch Gin, with its delicate flavor and well-balanced spice. I also dig whiskeys that lean sweet, so a bottle of Sortilege, a blend of Canadian whiskey and maple syrup, might be fun to try.

    Email or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.


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