Thanks to Nathan Mattise of Ars Technica who hipped me to GQ Magazine's 2012 gift guide for foodies. There're more than a few things on the list I'd like. Take, for instance, the $350 Kikuichi Yanagi Sushi Knife. I am, after all, a bit of a knife fetishist. Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin suggests a 2008 Haut Brion Magnum for $1,150, Jim Meehan of PDT recommends a Kaikado Tea Canister for $140, and chef Marcus Samuelsson calls out a $232 Handpresso Outdoor Set.
Mike and Pat Sheerin of Trencherman in Chicago named Moonshine!, though, as the only book on the list. At $14.95, it's one of the most affordable gifts on GQ's guide.
Knives aside, it's also one of the coolest. Five years after its publication, Moonshine! remains the premier introduction to home-, small batch, nano-distilling. Technical manuals go into greater detail for experienced professionals or for those who operate very specific kinds of stills, but the enthusiasm the book still generates among the cocktail and amateur crowds makes me beam with pride for a job well done. One distiller told me "When it was so hard to find reliable information on distilling, your book was like a handrail in the dark." More than a dozen profesional distillers have told me some version of "We never would have launched a distillery if you hadn't make it look so easy."
To be fair, I never said operating a distillery was easy. Just that learning the basics of making spirits certainly is. Cheers to the Brothers Sheerin for the nod. I do get to Chicago on occasion and have made a note to visit the restaurant of two men with such discerning taste. If their tastes in reading material is so solid, can you just imagine their food?
Nathan Mattise, Nathan Mattise...that name sounds so familiar. Oh, yeah ~ he and the Whovian editor of Wired magazine, Adam Rogers, spent the better part of an hour chatting with me while I was in San Francisco this Spring for Wired's Storyboard podcast. Here's a link to that and the podcast itself.