Hey – here’s an idea! Let’s combine two great party ingredients – alcohol and cake – into one! The result is the fun-filled Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine and Beer by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone and a guaranteed good time for everyone.

Cakes range from the traditional that your grandmother might have made (well, your grandmother maybe, not, unfortunately, mine) such as English Trifle and Black Forest Cake, to cakes based on cocktails. The emphasis here is on fun – cake shots! – and tasty. Recipes are easy to follow and most include 2-3 variations. Also, each cake includes information on how much alcohol remains after baking – lightweight, feeling it and totally tipsy – as well as suggestions for appropriate special occasions and accompanying cocktails.

Of course, you will need to bake responsibly when including alcohol – you’d have to eat a lot of cake to get tipsy (although I suppose it’s within the realm of possibility) but you should be considerate of teetotalers and those with alcohol issues. The real goal here is to have fun, in the kitchen and with friends.

Everyone’s favorite TV barfly George Wendt makes a foray into the author world in Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional’s Guide to Beer. Before your inner skeptic kicks in, consider this chapter-opening confession from a proud 0.0 GPA recipient during a sojourn at Notre Dame University:

“I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked into the role of Norm Peterson, a character whom I’d been training to play my whole life.

Under one set of covers, Wendt gives you a mini-biography, a slew of interesting beer facts, funny beer anecdotes from his own life, and lighthearted fare regarding his Hollywood friends.  None of these pile up too thick in any of  this collection of 1-4 page essays, so like what the “born-on” date has done for Budweiser products, the book stays fresh.

This title has what is known in some circles as a crisp finish and clean aftertaste.   The funniest and most interesting stories are in about the last third of the liter..er… book.  But, hey, relax.  We’re not talking War and Peace here.  Perfect for the attention span of the mead-swiller in your life.

wettest countyNo, this has nothing to do with rainfall. Rather, the “wet” refers to moonshine.  The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, a fictionalized account about the real-life Bondurant brothers in Depression-era Virginia is gritty, gutsy and sometimes even gory.  It’s narrated primarily by the youngest brother, Jack, who is in fact, the grandfather of the author.  The author, Matt Bondurant, also enlists the help of  Winesburg, Ohio author Sherwood Anderson who started his own investigation (in 1934) of the brothers’ dramatic confrontation with the county sheriff.  In doing so, Anderson was the first to dub Franklin County the “wettest county in the world.”

The story begins in 1928 when a pair of thieves rob Forest Bondurant of his large stash of bootlegging money and end up cutting his throat.  Somehow he manages to reach a hospital 12 miles away.  Soon after, two anonymous men appear at the same hospital, one with legs totally shattered, the other castrated.  Needless to say, they aren’t talking. You get the picture — this is real roughneck country and the Bondurant boys are no angels.

Bondurant does an excellent job of imagining and portraying the probable lives of his ancestors.  It’s not always pretty, but it does give the reader a gripping view of their struggles to survive during Prohibition in the poverty-stricken foothills of westernVirginia.

whiskeyThe publisher’s description of 99 Drams of Whiskey: the Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink as “part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book” is accurate but lacking. This book is fun! It is a great idea for a vacation, to visit whiskey distilleries. Ms. Hopkins kept her book an easy read by balancing the density of history with whiskey tasting notes and anecdotes from her visits to renowned distilleries. I thought I knew about the different whiskeys until I read this book. I need to further my education. Check out her blog where she reviews beer, foods, and all other things.