2015 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.

BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron

If you’re looking for a simple way to class up your bar without breaking the bank, Bacardi’s new Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is a great addition for under $25. This newly released white rum is crafted to be a high-end mixer, adding a touch of sophistication to the classic cocktails made at home. Besides casually mentioning the “Gran Reserva” label to describe your concoction, you can further impress your guests with the knowledge that the rum has been double aged; it’s initially aged for a year and blended, then returned to white oak barrels for an additional three months. While immediately flavorful upon tasting with light and fruity notes, we found its bite to be a little strong to be sipped on its own. However, stay true to its calling as a mixer, whether in cubas libres, mojitos or daiquiris, and you can’t go wrong. The Gran Reserva was created to pay tribute to the Master Blenders at Bacardi, but everyone might think they passed on some of their distilling secrets to you as well.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. experimented with the addition of rye to bourbon in 1796, believing the spicy flavor profile of the grain would strikingly complement the sweeter, corn-heavy mash bill, and more than 200 years later, we’re still celebrating his decision one drink at a time. While Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the lowest proof (80 proof, 40% ABV) in Jim Beam’s Small Batch collection, it brings a near double dose of rye (27%) compared to the others. The resulting flavor profile is “blessed with rich hints of peppermint, notes of pepper, slight citrus overtones and a spicy, warming finish.” If that doesn’t sound inviting during the holidays, we’re not sure what does. We can’t get enough of this bourbon, preferring to drink it neat from a bourbon snifter to maximize its aroma and flavor. But we were also very pleased using it as a mixer in Manhattans, allowing for the rye to add an extra layer of depth to the drink. Putting this all together in a nicely packaged bottle, Basil Hayden’s is that bourbon you break out on special occasions like the holidays.

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2015 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Booze

Walk into any liquor store and you’ll see hundreds of options. You can zero in on your dad’s favorite drink when picking a gift, or you can get creative and choose something he wouldn’t buy for himself. And for more great suggestions, be sure to check out the other categories in our Father’s Day gift guide.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

crown_royal_rye

The good folks at Crown Royal have introduced the brand’s first-ever blended rye whisky, so this is something delicious and unique that you can pick up for dad. As you would expect from Crown Royal, this whisky is very smooth. It’s crafted from 90% rye and tastes great either neat, on the rocks, or in traditional rye cocktails like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. It also comes in that beautiful Crown Royal bottle that makes any bar look classy.

Patrón XO Cafe Incendio

This is an awesome gift for anyone who appreciates premium tequila or enjoys flavored liqueurs. This delicious new offering from Patrón is a spicy and sweet liqueur that is perfect as a sipping drink to savor and enjoy, or as a shot to get the party going. Patrón XO Cafe Incendio starts with Patrón Silver tequila and draws its flavor from the spicy Mexican arbol chile along with the sweet richness of Criollo chocolate. We recommend drinking it straight after chilling the bottle in the refrigerator. You can also use it for cocktails, and as a kicker, to spice up your coffee or hot cocoa in the winter months. You can keep a bottle in your fridge year-round as a permanent addition to your home bar.

incendio

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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

roca_patron

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

patron_cocktails

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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Highland Park introduces Loki

HP Loki bottle & pack 750ml HR - 477

After trying Thor last year, we had the opportunity to check out the latest release for Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection, a set of four unique whiskies taking inspiration from the Nordic gods of old.

Loki is a 15-year old single malt Scotch that will definitely grab your attention. This creation is not for the faint of heart, as it was inspired by the “unpredictable, shape-shifting Loki character.” This Scotch was matured in both Spanish cherry casks along with heavily peated casks, so the result is a whisky with a very smoky punch. The taste is very complex and whisky aficionados will definitely want to try this one out.

It comes in the spectacular packaging you can see in the photo above, so this makes for a great gift idea with Father’s Day coming up. It’s not cheap at $249 but for the right dad Loki can help you mark a memorable Father’s Day.

  

Guy stuff for the holidays

for guys holiday gift guide

As usual, we’ve added a “Guy Stuff” page in our holiday gift guide featuring stuff like gear, clothes and booze.

We also stumbled onto this thread from Reddit with guys listing lame gift ideas for men. Here’s one of the better comments:

Older guy here. I welcome and appreciate all gifts, but really I don’t need another mug. Here’s the proper tip: don’t buy him a mug, buy him the liquids that go in the mug. Want to spend $5-10? A nice craft beer would be highly appreciated. $10-15? A pound of good coffee. Want to go over the top and spend $35-75? Buy the guy a damned bottle of Scotch.

We couldn’t agree more, which is why we include some booze suggestions every year.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

  

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