Whether or not you choose to pop open a can or two of Budweiser on the weekends (or after a long day's work) is one thing — but there's no denying that you've come across one of Anheuser-Busch's brews at some point in your drinking career. Chronicling the tale of this American brewing giant, Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer ($20) tells the story of how the Busch family rose to dominate the American beer market, for better or for worse. This story, spanning across three centuries, is one of dynasty, capitalism, innovation, success, and failure, and after you finish it, you'll never look at a bottle of Bud the same way.
There's a big difference between simply pouring someone a bourbon and coke, and carefully crafting the perfect Old Fashioned. Skill, patience, ingredients — all these things go into making a cocktail memorable and delicious. In The Curious Bartender: The Artistry and Alchemy of Creating the Perfect Cocktail ($20), they dive deep into the art of mixing drinks, spotlighting an assortment of classic drinks, discussing where they came from, and exploring who invented them. Finally, they take these cocktails and reinvent them, adding new variations to bring some of these classics back to life.
If one of the things you want to be more knowledgeable about just happens to be America's favorite spirit, then American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye ($15) is a book you need to seek out. It's a handy hardcover book featuring a basic introduction to Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye made in the USA and has over 200 whiskey reviews as well, so you know what is worth tracking down. In addition to a bottle of bourbon this year, we know what we are asking for in our stocking.
For those not lucky enough to have seen every corner of the globe first-hand, National Geographic Magazine has been our window to the world through its incredible photographs covering every locale from Timbuktu to Tuvalu. And now many of the greatest photos from over a century of reporting have been reproduced in the form of National Geographic: Around The World In 125 Years ($500). This three-volume, nearly-1,500 page photographic anthology contains photos ranging from their earliest work in black-and-white autochrome to their most recent digital photography, spanning each continent. Each photo creates a portrait of life, culture, wildlife, and scenery documenting every facet of our planet, in a way only National Geographic photographers can.