Enjoy Your Holiday Spirits

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Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates this holiday, and Happy Holidays to everyone else. Regardless of your traditions, hopefully it involves getting together with friends, family and loved ones.

Naturally, that often involves great food and plenty of drinks. I was just out and about and lots of people were stocking up on booze and beer for their holiday parties. We’ve had a number of features recently and in past years with suggestions on cocktails, beer and wine. Bob Westal gives us weekly ideas with his Drink of the Week series helping us with both traditional and new cocktail recipes. His recent article covered several Christmas cocktails that you might consider for tonight and tomorrow.

Several years ago Mike Barkacs offered up his top 5 holiday beers which should give you some ideas on how to stock your refrigerator, and naturally you can check out all of our beer reviews.

Then check out our wine reviews as well for ideas on what to serve with your holiday meal.

Finally, check out our Booze Gift Guide for last-minute ideas on bottles you can bring to a party or add to your own stock for this week and next.

Please be safe and enjoy the holidays!

  

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Carol Karaoke

Here’s a pretty cool social experiment or personality quiz. What if you were singing holiday carols to a few friends at a karaoke bar, when suddenly your performance was broadcasted to thousands of people? Would you keep singing? Would you act differently just because more people were watching you? Check out this new Heineken video to see how real people reacted. What would you do?

  

Hold my beer

Here’s a pretty hilarious set of new Bud Light commercials that explore what can happen when you ask someone to hold your beer. Refresh the page to see all three videos.

  

2013 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.

Craft Beer Club

If you have a beer lover on your list, you can give him or her the gift that keeps on giving. The Craft Beer Club discovers exceptional craft brews from around the country and delivers them each month direct to you or your gift recipient. Every selection is produced by small-production, independent brewers who use only traditional brewing ingredients and time-honored brewing methods. In addition to traditional bottled beers, they also embrace the hundreds of small craft brewers around the country that offer their hand-crafted beers in cans. It’s a great way to enjoy craft beers and it’s ideal for the holiday season.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

If dad, your buddy, your tomboyish gal pal or anyone else on your holiday list loves a very good bottle of Scotch, then consider this rather dandy, unusually enjoyable single malt. Outstanding on the rocks, with a splash of water or soda, or neat for you purists, the Laphroaig 10 Year Old is also more mixable than you might assume; on the other hand, it’s good enough that many will consider even the finest cocktail made with it a crime against nature. The website tells us that it’s got traces of salt and seaweed along with the usual peat and smoke flavors, but we don’t completely agree. It’s definitely got smoke – indeed, you might get hungry for barbecue after you take a good whiff and, yeah, that’s some salt in there, but that’s not all. Every good Scotch has its share of several indescribable tastes and smells of nature. We haven’t been to Scotland, but we wouldn’t be one bit surprised to find ourselves tasting the essence of this concoction in the clear cool air of the highlands. Cheaper than super-duper premium single malts but nearly double what you’ll likely pay for Chivas Regal, this is an outstanding gift for a true blue Scotch enthusiast.

Brugal 1888 Dominican Rum

If you’re in search of a bottle for the man or woman who’s drunk everything, Brugal 1888 is something genuinely new under the sun and it’s completely remarkable. An aged Dominican rum that thinks it’s a premium Scotch or Bourbon, it has the tantalizing, woody and astringent flavor you might get in very a high-end single malt, plus a hint of something that somehow reminds us of our dad’s old fake-leather chair. (That’s a good thing, believe it or not.) At the exact same time, it has a boldly sugary undertone that goes well beyond what you’re likely to find in the sweetest bourbon. We tasted more than a hint of maple syrup or maybe turbinado. Regardless, it’s delicious and probably not like anything you’ve had before. You can drink this on the rocks, with a bit of water, or neat. You can also put on your mixologist hat and go to town as this is a flexible beverage that won’t be out of place in an Old Fashioned, especially if you use real maple syrup in place of the usual sugar or simple syrup. High priced for rum but worth every gosh darn penny, this is one boozy gift that won’t be forgotten.

Cabo Diablo

This is the best new spirit we’ve tried in a long time. Cabo Wabo is known now just as much for its excellent tequilas as it is for its founder Sammy Hagar, and this new Cabo Diablo should attract many more fans. Cabo Diablo features a delicious coffee flavor and tastes amazing when you drink it straight. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and it’s not think and syrupy like some liqueurs. So it’s a fantastic sipping drink that men and women should both enjoy. But better yet, it’s a tequila, so it’s also a great way to get a party going, as tequila makes everyone a little nuts at times. It is made with 100% blue agave Cabo Wabo Silver tequila, then kicks in notes of fresh roasted coffee, vanilla and chocolate for a striking combination. It’s excellent served chilled or on the rocks. With the holidays around the corner, this makes for a great gift for men and women, and it’s a great bottle to bring to a gathering to get the party started!

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Game of Thrones Beer!

We’re huge fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and many of you have followed our weekly blog of the show, so we were very happy when HBO and Brewery Ommegang sent us some bottles of their new “Game of Thrones” beer to try out. We tried the second in the series, called the “Take the Black Stout,” which was inspired by the Night’s Watch, the military order dressed in black which holds and guards The Wall. The unique label features the sacred Weirwood tree where Jon Snow and other followers of the old gods take their oaths to the Night’s Watch.

Brewery Ommegang is located on a 136-acre farmstead in Cooperstown, New York and is part of the Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat family. “With the second beer, we wanted a big, substantial brew, something that would stick to your ribs and sustain you through long nights at watch on The Wall,” said Phil Leinhart, brewmaster at Ommegang. “A 7 % ABV stout with Northern Brewer hops, Midnight wheat, roasted barley, and chocolate malt made a perfect foundation for the beer. We also used uncommon spicing, something Ommegang is well known for. For this beer we added licorice root and star anise.”

We tried it and loved it. It’s thick and malty and exactly the kind of beer you can imagine the characters drinking on the show.

The first beer in the series, “Iron Throne Blonde Ale,” was the largest volume limited-edition beer ever brewed by Ommegang. “Fire and Blood Red Ale,” inspired by House Targaryen, will come next in the Spring of 2014, and the label will feature the three Targaryen dragons: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.

Beer lovers should definitely try this specialty brew, and the beer can be a great gift for fans of the show. You can also spice up a holiday party by serving this or bring it along. The beer comes in large, 750 ML bottles with a cork, so it makes quite an impression. Check it out!

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