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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Drink of the Week: The Kentucky Corpse Reviver

The Kentucky Corpse Reviver.If you’ve really been VERY paying close attention to this blog — or if you know me in real life — you might understand why matters very literally of life and death have been on my mind more usual for the last half a year or so. Never mind that. We all know that none of us are going to live forever and that once you’re dead, you’re pretty much going to stay that way, at least on any visible plane of existence — and any other planes of existence are doing a pretty good job of keeping to themselves these days. That’s why I’ve never found ghosts particularly frightening. A ghost would be proof of live after death, and that would be the opposite of frightening for me.

Still, the ability to cheat death as Lazarus did with a little divine help in the New Testament, has obviously been an earthly dream for as long as man has lived. And, for as long as man has drunk to excess, an easy cure for the dreaded hangover has also been sought. You’d think that would be easier than actually reviving a corpse, but the real problem seems to be that humans persist in the idea that you can cure a hangover by, well, drinking some more.

On the other hand, while this neo-classical bourbon-based variation on the most famous of the illustrious corpse reviver family of drinks is far more likely to cause a hangover than cure it, it is a very lovely way to go.

The Kentucky Corpse Reviver

3/4 ounce bourbon
3/4 ounce Cointreau or orange curacao
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 sprig of fresh mint (garnish)

Combine the bourbon, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau/curacao, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with enough ice to keep the carcass of a deceased woolly mammoth fresh and wholesome. Shake like you’re trying to wake the corpse of the rational faction of the Republican Party, and strain into a glass so cold that, uh, it’s extremely cold. (Sorry, ran out of obvious metaphors.) At this point, you should drink this concoction. It won’t cure anything, but it’s sure tasty.


One reason I decided to adapt this drink from a recipe that’s been credited to a New York City restaurant called Peel’s was that I already had all the ingredients on hand. In particular, I’ve got bourbon coming out of my proverbial ears thanks to recent gifts from the good folks at Kentucky favorite son Jim Beam’s small batch division.

I tried this drink a few different ways. Using Baker’s 107 proof brew and Hiram Walker orange curacao, this was a very pleasant libation indeed — the Baker’s was tamed just enough by the other ingredients to sing pretty sweetly. Though I was too lazy and too cheap to go out and buy the Pierre Ferrand dry curacao used in the original recipe, I did try using the suggested alternative of Cointreau together with some merely 100 proof Knob Creek. The result wasn’t anything like a resurrection, but it was sort of heavenly.