The holidays are a great time to give the gift of booze. There’s a nice balance here where you have the chance to both introduce neophyte drinkers to new wonders and really please aficionados with a well-chosen bottle. If you know someone’s getting into ryes, for example, you can get them a new bottle of rye and really leave them stoked. Likewise, if you know your loved one loves rum, get them a knock-out bottle and you’re set. The shopping practically does itself.
Better still, there are a lot of options around drinking. There are cocktail sets, glasses, recipe books, and full-on home bars. While we’re not going as deep as how-to-install a home bar for Christmas, we are offering some prime choices that we love. Below is a menagerie of options — from the budget to the baller — for your boozy holiday shopping list this year. Happy drinking!
Chapmans Apple Brandy & Rodham Rye from Republic Restoratives
We’re kicking off the list with the first female, LGBT-owned and operated distillery in Washington DC. These spirits are well aged, with just the right amount of alcohol heat. Better still, the team behind them is intent on turning the world into a more equitable place, making these bottles a gift worth talking about.
Republic Restoratives co-founder Pia Carusone worked in the Obama administration, ran a congressional campaign, and was Chief of Staff to Democratic rep Gabrielle Giffords. Now, she’s got Capitol Hill buzzing in a whole new way. The Rodham Rye — named for Hillary Rodham Clinton — is a nice entry-level rye for people just getting into the spirit. It has a lot of vanilla sweetness, which will please those who aren’t ready for that full rye bite, and a portion of the proceeds go to support young women entering politics. The Chapmans Apple Brandy is an even better buy (both value and flavor). It’s dual oak rested and deeply warming. Perfect for sipping by the fire as the holidays approach. -SB
Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions
Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan created the ultimate cocktail book with the Cocktail Codex. This book parses cocktails in a way that will forever change the way cocktail books are written. It’s a beautiful volume that’ll teach the reader a depth of history, cocktail families, and recipes. This is the ultimate book for any home mixer looking to bring their game to all new heights. -ZJ
If you have a friend who’s just now getting into the home bar game, this mixer set is the way to go. The ingredients are natural, the price point is manageable, and the flavor is bang on. The blood orange bitters, in particular, are a highlight — a little less… well, bitter than you might expect. This is a good thing, especially for the newbie. Plus you get to call your Manhattans “Blood Orange Manhattans” — which sounds incredibly sophisticated.
Get the whole set and you’re sure to get a lot of love. Plus a lot of drinks as a reward. -SB
Mixology Bartender Kit
You can’t go wrong with a great cocktail kit for any new or avid home-mixologist. Especially if they’re on their mid-century vibe. This set stands out for us due to the nice wood base that ties the whole damn thing together. It’s not just a mess of tools that you’ll have to store somewhere. You can display this and use it. Win-win. -ZJ
Jack Daniel’s Bottled-In-Bond
You’ll have to get this bottle at an airport, but that should be easy enough, this time of year. The Bottled-In-Bond traveler’s edition is a reference to an antiquated law about how whiskey is produced. In this case, it means that your bottle comes from a single distillery from a single season, matured at a bonded warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof.
If you’re shopping for a true aficionado, you probably want to go more upmarket. But as a gift to bring to a friend’s place for a fresh new spin on a Jack and Coke, this is a smooth, vanilla-forward way to go. -SB
Stoli Glass Set with 2 Glasses
This is an easy gift for any vodka lover. Stoli is a great vodka. So, instead of just giving a bottle of wonderful Stoli this year, why not add a couple sweet rocks glasses. It’s that little extra that says I love you — with vodka. And it does all that for only $16 bucks. -ZJ
Jura Single Malt Scotch Whiskey — Seven Wood
Don’t worry, this isn’t named for some dorky golf club. It’s for the seven different wood barrels the scotch spends time in before being bottled. Now, who knows if this adds complexity, you’d have to really know scotches for that. But what is clear is that this is a special bottle — worth sharing a few drams of around a crackling fire.
You’re going to get a lot of Christmas-y apple and cinnamon on the front end with this one, followed by a really nice… let’s call it a “whisper” of the sea. Seriously, this is relatively low on the peaty-scale, especially considering that it comes from the Isle of Jura, which is as rain-whipped, peat-smoked, and sea-sprayed a chunk of land as ever did fall off Scotland.
Buy this bottle for the Scotch lover who craves complexity without all the smoke. -SB
Cocktail Courier Set
This is a pretty genius service. Cocktail Courier will send your friend or loved on a package that’ll include everything they’ll need to make up to six cocktails.
This isn’t basic stuff either. The Maple Old Fashioned kit comes with enough WhistlePig 10 to make six old fashioneds. That’s freakin’ solid. You’ll need to provide the glass and mixing equipment (see above). Otherwise, this is a solid choice for any cocktail lover. -ZJ
This is sugar beet vodka from Minnesota, which is a surprise on multiple levels. Here’s another surprise: This stuff is fantastic. It’s got a mouthfeel that is smooth and rounded — almost like you’re drinking milk punch. The first notes are sweet (sugar beet-y?) before giving way to a crisp, peppery finish.
If you’re looking for a surprising new vodka for martinis and other vodka-forward cocktails (don’t waste this stuff by dressing it up too much), you’ll be thrilled with this pickup. Or hell, drink it with a little ice. Plus, the who story of the place — from the buddies who decided to get into distilling on a whim to their passionate support of local farmers — adds value to each sip. -SB
Loch Lomond Single Grain Scotch
A great scotch is hard to pass up, especially if you plan on sitting next to a fireplace all winter. Loch Lomond Single Grain is the perfect winter sipper. The whisky starts out with a rush of orange zest followed by powdered sugar sweetness that melts into a grain grassiness. Then comes a burst of pineapple that’s cut by winter spices and oaky goodness.
That’s a whole lot of flavor for $30 bucks! – ZJ
All blended malts being equal, you’d always go with the Shackleton, right? The stuff has so much story. It was found under the ice at Ernest Shackleton’s last arctic basecamp, a distiller tried to recreate it, the company sponsors adventurers and explorers rather than movie stars… the stuff is cool.
But here’s the even better news: All blended malts aren’t the same. This one is fantastic and a great value for the price. It’s not too peaty, and the flavors — from the nose to the mouth — are robust. There’s a really nice finish, with some low key vanilla notes and light peat. These flavors blend well together and the overall depth speaks to the earth itself and the hard living that Shackleton did.
Get this great value bottle for a friend. Then share it along with some epic yarns. -SB
Altos Tequila Mexico Plata
Olmeca’s premiere line, Altos, is killing the tequila game right now. Their sustainable farming practices and celebration of tradition make for great tequila.
Their Plata will transport you straight to the Jalisco Highlands. You’re immediately hit by slightly sweet fire-roasted agave that turns to mild citrus, pepper, and umami brine. Then there’s a nice grassy note as the pepper amps up and the sweet plant kicks in. It’s a great tequila for a great price. -ZJ
Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old
This is a classic rum that’ll make any rum lover smile. It’s also a great winter sipper. A nutty and buttery texture meet you and is then followed by vanilla and winter spices. Finally, that rich and oaky sweetness comes through with a whisper of dark molasses.
It’s tasty and worth the 50 bucks every time. -ZJ
The Dalmore Port Wood Reserve
This is a serious whiskey that’s perfect for the season. It’s oaky and warm up front with rich caramel and spiced orange notes. On the palate that goes a little lighter and brighter, moving into dried fruits. At the finish it’s all a little more baked/ toasted tasting — basically, this is like a Christmas chestnut cake in a bottle. With maybe a light tobacco note.
If you have a friend or lover you want to trade serious drams with, this will do the trick. It’s a ton of fun to drink and discuss.
Irish Whiskey Club
Want to go that extra distance? Sign up your giftee for a booze club. Our choice? Irish Whiskey Club all day, baby.
Over at Spirited Gifts, they have a three-month long club that’ll ship one bottle of Irish whiskey per month. The bottles will be high-end, well-aged whiskeys from Powers, Kinahan’s, Teeling, Jameson, Bushmills, RedBreast, and more.
There’s little better than getting a bottle of awesome Irish whiskey delivered to your door every month. -ZJ
Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey 12 Year Old
Okay, a whole Irish whiskey set might be a little much. It might be worth grabbing a single bottle of great Irish whiskey and making it last all year. Yellow Spot is the 12 year old whiskey from the Spot Whiskey Still. This is a marvelous sip. The whiskey was matured in bourbon casks, Spanish Sherry butts, and Spanish Malaga casks. There’s a sweetness here that shines alongside notes of peach and apricot with a velvet texture. This is the perfect whiskey to enjoy throughout the whole year, starting right now.
And, if you really want to impress your loved one, grab a bottle of their new Red Spot. This is a 15-year-old masterpiece that’ll blow the socks off any whiskey lover. Be warned, this one is a lot harder to find. So make a few calls to speciality liquor shops or import some online right here.
WhistlePig 12-Year Old World Rye Whiskey
Okay, let’s get into some heavy-hitters. If you really want to wow someone with a whiskey gift, go with WhistlePig. Our favorite, right now anyway, is the 12-year Old World Rye. There’s a deep complexity here that screams wintery good times.
The spicy and peppery rye backbone is accented by Madeira, Sauternes, and Port barrels used in different stages of aging. That gives this sip a molasses essence that leans into a dried raisin element. Those flavors give way to a burst of ripe nectarines and bright cherries. Then a silky caramel texture comes into place as the spiciness dissolves into an allspice flourish.
This is a conversation piece that’s worth the cash. -ZJ
Havana Club Tributo 2018
View this post on Instagram
Botella No.2047 Ron Havana Club Tributo 2018. Ron de Cuba 🇨🇺 . . . . #ron #rum #rhum #tributo18 #tributo2018 #rontributo2018 #havanatributo2018 #havanaclubtributo2018 #ronhavanaclubtributo #havanatributo #havanaclubtributo #havanaclub #elrondecuba #cuba #cdmx #mexico #travel #visitmexico #roninfinito #ronhavanaclub #roncubano #rondecuba #havanaclubmx #yeshavanaclub
This is a big swing for the fences. Maybe you’re buying a gift for… your future in-laws? Your boss? The Uproxx team?
There are only 2,500 of these bottles in the whole world. This rum was created by Havana Club Maestro del Ron Cubano in Havana from rums from different 60-year-old rum casks. There’s, legit, nothing else like this rum in the world.
This one hits you with old library leather right away. It’s just old. Then there’s a real sense of fresh tobacco that’s lightly smokey. The sweetness here comes through more as a honey with a raisin dryness. It’s deceptively simple and earth-shatteringly good.