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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Ron White Still Loves His Scotch, But Now He’s Talking Tequila, Too

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Earlier this month, I had a chance to chat with comedian Ron White – you probably know him best from his work on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour - in conjunction with his latest round of tour dates featuring a night in my home town of Norfolk, Virginia. We chatted for quite some time…enough time, in fact, for me to pull together a piece for the Pilot (“Interview: Comedian Ron White Prefers His Shows Live“), an altogether different piece for AntennaFree.TV (“Pilot Error: Comedian Ron White Reflects on ‘Señor White’ and Takes Us Through ’12 Miles of Bad Road’“), and still have a bit more material left over.

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It’s not really “left over,” though, as I made a point of keeping this portion of the conversation for Bullz-Eye. I mean, come on: if Ron White talking about the tequila company he co-owns with his brother-in-law, fellow comedian Alex Reymundo, isn’t something that’s got “Bullz-Eye” written all over it, I don’t know what does. 

Once upon a time, White was quoted as saying, “There were years when I was a beer and tequila guy, then I got real fat. And then I found that you could actually go on a diet and drink scotch. Then I got hooked on scotch, and if you get hooked on scotch, then everything else just tastes wrong.” Apparently, he’s changed his tune a bit on tequila now that he’s selling the stuff. Then again, from the sound of it, this tequila probably tastes a hell of a lot better than the stuff he was swigging back then.

The topic of tequila came up somewhat offhandedly, when I asked White about his writing regimen. In the process of explaining that he writes most of his material on the road, getting input from the team of folks who travels with him, he began listing off the travelers by saying, “I’ll have an opening act, usually my brother-in-law, who’s also my partner in my tequila company. He and I own a company called Number Juan Tequila. Best tequila in the world.” He didn’t mention it again after that, but having thrown that tidbit into play, I decided to pick it up and run with it a few minutes later.

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Cabo Diablo – New Flavored Tequila

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This is the best new spirit I’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!

  

3 Liquors Hip-Hop Heads Love (and Recipes for Each)

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Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Liquor is a staple in the hip hop world.

Flashy cars, hot girls, stacks of money, and of course … the partying.

Rappers like Eminem, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and many others get behind their brands. There is no shortage of the hard stuff whenever you catch one of their videos and if you happen to catch them in a club you’ll quickly see them poppin’ bottles at a table.

This love for the booze has even gone as far as to catch the attention of researchers which found that out of 700 top billboard hits almost 23% of them had some mention of alcohol.

The question becomes … which ones and what kind of drinks can you make with ‘em?

1. Wild Turkey

Whiskey and bourbon are two fine choices you’ll often hear mentioned in videos.

These are the drinks of gangsters – to whom many rappers try to replicate at least in image.

The aged drink shows sophistication and says that you’re not just there to chug down grain alcohol.

Of these brands, the Island of Kentucky has been putting out some of the best.

At around 86 proof (43% alcohol) you can expect to get turned up on one of these bottles.

If you want to drink with sophistication than consider the Sazerac:

• 2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
• 1 tsp Ricard Pastis
• 1 tsp Water
• 2 dashes Peychaud Bitters
• 1/2 tsp Superfine Sugar
• 1 twist of Lemon Peel

Preparation

Chill an old-fashioned glass. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar and Peychaud bitters together. Add the whiskey and ice to the bitters mixture and stir. Rinse the chilled glass with Ricard Pastis by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid. Strain the whiskey mixture from the mixing glass into the old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe courtesy of Snooth.com.

2. Patron

Ah, Patron.

The tequila that doesn’t taste like the devil and a favorite among rappers.

Patron is going to set you back a bit of money depending on the size of the bottle (expect to pay about $45 and up for a decent size) but it’s worth it once you taste the difference.

You ain’t going bottom-shelf on this one.

This legendary alcohol has been a favorite among rappers for decades. Tequila is usually one of those drinks that completely floors you but everyone has seemed to take a liking to Patron (probably because it doesn’t give you the rot gut, massive hangover the next day, as easily).

Drink with style via Patron Diablo:

• 1 1/2 oz Patron Silver Tequila
• 3/4 oz Creme de Cassis
• 1/2 oz Lime Juice (fresh)
• 1 splash(es) Ginger Ale

Preparation

Fill cocktail glass with ice then add the Patron Silver Tequila, Creme de Cassis, and fresh Lime Juice. Top off with Ginger Ale. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Recipe courtesy of BartendingMadeEasyandFun.

3. Hennessy

Cognac.

Now there’s a drink for the ages.

Hennessy go real popular once the hip hop crowd found it with big mentions by the likes of Tupac, Biggie, Drake, Dr. Dre, Wu-Tang, and a bunch of others. The reason why you’ve probably heard of the name is most likely because of a hip hop song.

Drinking it straight is always choice but if you want to be adventurous then try a Tap that Ass:

• 1 oz Hennessy® cognac
• 1 oz Alize® Red Passion liqueur
• 1 oz Alize® Gold Passion liqueur
• 1 splash cranberry juice
• Top with soda water

Preparation

Fill the hurricane glass with ice. Pour the Hennessy, Red Alize, and Yellow Alize. Splash in some Cranberry Juice and top it off with soda. For garnish you can add a slice of pineapple and cherries.

Recipe courtesy of Drinksmixer.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking about stocking up one some booze for your next party or if you just want to have some around the house than these three choices are great for building up that stock.

You don’t have to party as hard as the hip hop heads but you can certainly drink like ‘em.

Try out some of the mixes, too.

Remember: you don’t always have to drink it straight from the bottle.

  

Drink of the Week: The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita

The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita. First of all, my apologies that we kind of skipped over July 4th this year. It’s not that I lack love for los Estados Unidos, it’s just that I’ve been dealing with a Mexican-inspired morass. To be specific….

If anybody out there was paying attention, last week I wound up making a carefully constructed Margarita from the Hornitos people using the wrong type of tequila. Today, I am making amends with a drink where I actually used the right type of (very good) booze. What a shocker that this drink turned out to be more than okay, but actually very good.

The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita

2 ounces Hornitos Plata Tequila
3⁄4 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
3⁄4 ounce triple sec (or fancier orange liqueur)
2 pieces watermelon
2 slices of jalapeno
2 sprigs of cilantro
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (optional, see below)
1 lime slice (garnish)

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the watermelon, jalapeno, and cilantro into the melange of liquids with a fair amount of gusto. Next, add lots of ice and shake as vigorously as you can manage — you shaker will be good and full of stuff, especially if you make two at once like I did at one point.

Strain into a chilled rocks/old fashioned glass with ice cubes in it. If you don’t want your drink overly hot from the jalapeno, you probably want to double strain it — i.e., pour from your cocktail shaker’s strain into a regular food strainer.  On the other hand, if you don’t mind a drink that’s a bit muy on the caliente side, than just one regular cocktail strainer should be enough. Add the lime slice garnish, and toast, if you like, Hussong’s Cantina in beautiful Ensenada, Mexico. That’s where legend tells us the first Margarita was born.

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As with last week’s drink, the Seize Your Margarita is actually intended to be made with the new (to me, anyway)  John DeKuyper & Sons O3 Premium Orange Liqueur. I’m guessing it has some kind of corporate tie to Hornitos but, for all I know, it might actually be even better that way. Still, it worked just fine with the el-cheapo DeKuyper triple sec I happened to have here at el casa de DOTW and might work well with whatever premium or cheap orangey liqueurs you happen to have on hand. I almost hate to suggest it, but the seize your margarita might even be okay with non-Hornitos brands of blanco tequila.

The other major alteration I made is the possible use of a teaspoon full of sugar. I got the idea because my watermelon wasn’t as sweet as I’d have liked. Even so, I was more than happy with my first version but I correctly guessed that I could be made happier still with a bit more sweetness. In fact, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to adding the sugar with somewhat sweeter watermelon chunks. What’s 16 calories among friends?

When you come right down to it, when you throw tequila, watermelon and jalapenos together, it’s kind of hard to go too terribly wrong. The balance of sweet and hot is one I’ve always found hard to resist. Indeed, I have yet to meet a jalapeno margarita I didn’t like, and that includes a beverage full of the usually hated sour mixes and what not that I actually enjoyed recently at the Mexican-style bar at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

Still, the Seize Your Margarita is definitely much, much better than that prefab jalapeno margarita — and good for you too, what with all scurvy-fighting fresh fruit and vegetable extractions mixing with the health-giving power of tequila. In fact, if you’re feeling a bit of a post-fireworks let down this cinco de Julio, give it a try.

  

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