2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Booze

Walk into any liquor store and you’ll see hundreds of options. You can zero in on someone’s favorite drink when picking a gift, or you can get creative and choose something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. Also, remember that you don’t want to come to a party empty-handed, so get in the habit of at least bringing a bottle.

And for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Roca Patrón Silver

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It’s only been 15 or 20 years since high-end tequilas began to compete against Cognac and single-malt Scotch for supremacy among world-class sipping experiences, with often outstanding and highly accessible results. Already by far the best known premium tequila in the U.S., Patrón is upping their game even more with a new line of super-premium boozes, Roca Patrón, named for the stone wheels used to extract the juice of the blue agave plant. Unlike añejos and reposadas, silver (aka white) tequilas are un-aged and generally best used for cocktails and shots. At an MSRP of $69.00, however, Roca Patrón Silver is definitely no freshman-year bender fodder and a great gift for the man or woman who’s sipped nearly everything. The Patrón people describe the flavor as sweet, “with notes of black pepper, pumpkin and lime tea.” We taste mainly the honey-like flavor of the agave, but isn’t that the whole point of quality tequila? Not too stuffy to accompany a little grapefruit soda or perhaps even a perfectly a well-balanced classic margarita (shaken, not blended!), this definitely qualifies as not just the good stuff, but the very good stuff. Aged Roca Patrón Reposada and Roca Patrón Añejo are available at commensurately higher price tags.

Patrón’s Holiday Classic Cocktails Kit

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Once maligned by the ignorant, tequila has emerged as every bit the equal of whiskey, gin and, yes, Cognac, as the basis for a truly tip-top cocktail – and we don’t just mean a classic margarita either, as marvelous as those can be. Now, the biggest name in premium tequila is marketing its own variation on one of the ultimate cocktail classics, the Añejo Manhattan, which substitutes aged tequila for the usual bourbon, rye or Canadian whiskey. This set (MSRP $54.99) includes a bottle of flavorful mellow Patrón Añejo, two very sturdy, large coupe glasses (a more rounded old-school variation on today’s standard martini glasses) and Dashfire Brandy Old Fashioned Bitters. The latter is a tantalizing alternative to standard Angostura aromatic bitters with a strong accent of smokey cloves; no self-respecting Manhattan is remotely complete without bitters, and this artisanal brand is an outstanding choice. All your giftee needs to add is a cocktail shaker/mixing glass, some sweet vermouth (ideally Carpano Antica), lots and lots of ice, and we’re off to the races! A strong gift selection for any open-minded cocktail enthusiast.

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Crown Royal Regal Apple

Bottle and Box

I’m a huge fan of Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, so I was looking forward to trying the all-new Crown Royal Regal Apple. The flavored whisky arrived in a sweet emerald green carton with the iconic Crown Royal bag in green and gold tones. Crown Royal Regal Apple is a combination of the well-known, premium taste of Crown Royal whisky infused with natural apple flavors. It’s delicious as a chilled shot as the strong apple flavor jumps out and you can use it for a number of great cocktails as well. With the beautiful packaging and the iconic Crown Royal brand it’s also great for a gift or something to bring to a party during the holiday season.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: For Her

Whatever you decide to buy, please make sure you put some thought into it. This applies to your wife or woman that you’re dating, and even that mom or other women on your gift list. They will love if you buy something that makes them feel appreciated.

Click the links to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Brooks Running Gear

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Marathons have become increasingly more popular over the last few years, and whether you’re a serious runner or just do it for fun, having the right gear is essential. While most people tend to stick to popular brands like Nike and Adidas, it’s better to buy from a specialty company like Brooks Running, who offers an entire catalog of products designed specifically with runners in mind. Footwear options range from the PureFlow 3, a lightweight shoe with a more rounded heel and repositioned Toe Flex to better align your stride, to the award-winning Cascadia 9, which is better suited for trickier terrain thanks to its 4-point pivot posts and a BioMoGo DNA midsole that adapts cushioning to your feet and the surface beneath. Both styles come in a variety of bold colors, and the same goes for all the apparel as well, including the water-resistant Infiniti Jacket IV, the retroreflective PureProject Jacket (which is both wind- and water-resistant) and the moisture-wicking Infiniti Tight III. After giving our wives the chance to test out some of the gear provided by Brooks Running, the verdict was unanimous: if you care about function and quality, this is one brand that every runner should add to the top of their wish lists.

eCreamery.com Custom Ice Cream Pints

We’re avid believers that ice cream is great no matter what time of year it is (especially for those whose winters actually feel like, well, winter), and the folks at eCreamery.com have created the perfect gift for the holidays: create-your-own ice cream, gelato and sorbet with customized labels on the packaging. All you need to do is select your base, main flavor and mix-ins, and then give your new creation a name. We made a custom ice cream (Cinnamon with Chocolate Covered Pretzels) and gelato (Cheesecake with Strawberry Swirls and Chocolate Chunks), and both were incredibly delicious, especially the latter, which is one of the best frozen treats we’ve ever sampled. There are over 40 flavors and 30 mix-ins to choose from, and the quality is definitely a step up from your typical store-bought ice cream, but it comes at a price, with four pints (the smallest possible order) costing a whopping $59.99, and that doesn’t even include shipping. While that may seem pretty steep for ice cream, eCreamery’s custom pints make for a really unique gift that’s worth splurging for at least once.

ecreamery

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Vintage Vapors: Tobacciana and Smoking Collectibles

ID-100265365 By patrisyu
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/By Patrisyu

The subject of tobacco often seems to divide public opinion in society today but when it comes to collectors, there is little doubt that tobacco memorabilia is always enduringly popular.

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Product Review: Braun Series 5 Electric Shaver

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If you grew up in the 1950s when the electric shaver was a relatively new technology, a fringe lifestyle choice, how would you feel about how electrics have evolved?

Because to me, the new Braun Series 5 Electric Shaver had everything I look for; it is the net result of 60-plus years of electric shaving “growth” and adaptation.

To find out, I sat down with a 62-year-old man and we went at each other, point/counterpoint style.

62-Year-Old Man Point:

I tried a standard head-on razor early in my shaving career. My beard is thin (I’ll never be confused with my ape-like college roommate affectionately known as “Brillo-Man”) and my skin, baby soft – in a word, sensitive. My dad had a razor like that, and who doesn’t want to imitate his dad? I found his type of shaving experience painful at best. Put simply, I was scared thanks to a painful experience years ago.

34-Year-Old Man Counterpoint:

The new Braun Series 5 Hi Tech 5090cc men’s shaver with “Intelligent Clean and Charge Station” is a far cry from the brutish “Dark Ages” era of shaving in the ’50s.

I opened the packaging and found a sleek head-on razor. I fired it up immediately and it sounded sophisticated – like the hum of a BMW. When I brought it to the underside of my chin, it was outstanding. The head can be moved 10 degrees in either direction for ease of reaching those hard spots. It was effective and not difficult to manipulate. Nothing to be afraid of, sir.

62-Year-Old Man Point:

I liked how easy it was to disassemble the Braun to clean. Popping the head off for cleaning was simple and it all snapped right back into place after. I was impressed because, back in my prime, you couldn’t take an electric apart to clean it.

34-Year-Old Man Counterpoint:

I told you you’d like it, you baby gorilla!

62-Year-Old Man Point:

Take it easy. One thing I was nervous about was the power. Was there enough to get the job done without ripping hair out? Yes, there was. The battery also kept its charge for 10 shaves without recharging, and it never made the telltale sound an electric makes when it’s low on juice.

34-Year-Old Man Counterpoint:

Uh oh, we’re starting to agree; the premise of this review is shot. I liked the power as well, and worth noting, the Braun Series 5 comes with a recharging station and cleaning station underneath. Though you could easily take it apart to clean, as mentioned previously.

62-Year-Old Man Point:

It’s a great electric, but almost too powerful. Most guys wouldn’t appreciate the Series 5′s sophistication or require its technology. One gripe I have is that the cartridges of cleaning fluid last only four weeks under most shaving conditions. It reminds me of that piece of $#!& printer I bought that requires me to have all five cartridges of ink full in order to operate.

34-Year-Old Man Counterpoint:

You know how I know you’re a 62-year-old man? You used the word “gripe.”

For more information, visit the Braun Facebook page or send them a silly hashtag via their Twitter account.

  

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