The 16 Best Boozy Gifts for the Serious Drinker
Including a philosophical ode to Pappy and the most precise bar accessory ever
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Visit InsideHook’s Holiday 2020 gifting hub to find gift ideas for every person on your list this year. Also, who are we kidding? Find lots of ideas for yourself there, too.
This was a hard year to be a serious drinker.
Oh, it wasn’t hard to drink. It was just sometimes a little hard to do more than pop open a hard seltzer or pour a whiskey on the rocks and begin angrily muttering to ourselves. (We did all of that. A lot).
But sometimes we found real inspiration. Home bar hobbyists suddenly had time to invest in their passion. And some of us found solace and comfort in Zoom-led tastings, boozy kits from local watering holes and even diving into long moth-balled cocktail books to find strange and wonderful recipes.
And for the people in your life who are more serious about their alcohol, the good news is that the worst of the year has led to some really amazing boozy collaborations, thoughtful reads and even virtual experiences that wouldn’t have been possible a year ago. It feels like if you’re gifting something booze-related in 2020, you’re bound to find something that has real purpose and care behind it.
So below, some great gifts for the discerning drinker in your life:
“The monuments we erect — shouting into the wind that we were once alive and had hopes and dreams — often end up becoming a shrine to the fallacy and futility of that desire itself.” This is the real, non-manufactured story behind Pappy Van Winkle’s legendary whiskey and his family legacy, but that serves as a very loose framework for author Wright Thompson to muse on father-son dynamics, the complicated legacy of the South and even the philosophical teachings of Thomas Merton. It’s a beautiful read, best enjoyed with, well, a glass of 15-year old Pappy.
Whiskey nerds and fans of Booker Noe’s excellent bourbon can trace the journey of their barrel — which was tracked using RFID tech — from the moment it was laid down in the rackhouses until bottling. Plus, select bottles offer up extras like photos and exclusive tastings.
Handsome bar tools and shakers that are copper plated (just like Absolut’s stills) and conveniently arrive in a gift box. Plenty of options available, but we like this one, which features a 3-piece shaker, jigger and a Hawthorne strainer.
Sponsored by Crown Royal
As 2020 draws to a close, it’s safe to say the holidays will be a little different this year. Thus a bottle of top-shelf whisky is very much the name of the game when it comes to holiday gifting, and for that you should look no further than storied Canadian distillers Crown Royal. No matter who you’re shopping for, they’ve got an expression to mark the occasion — from the classic Deluxe to the velvety Reserve to the sophisticated XR. This holiday season, all are available with customizable labels and bags so you can give the ultimate gift with a personal message for the special people in your life. Our suggestion: “Happy holidays, may we raise a glass together again soon.”
New York Times editor Clay Risen hand-selects 100 of the “most exceptional and collectible” bottles from around the globe, drawing from both the whiskey standard bearers (Scotland, Ireland, United States) and a few surprise entries (see: the Czech Republic).
You don’t need to drink the whole bottle of Riesling. This stopper and “device” preserve wine for up to four weeks after a bottle’s been opened. How, you ask? The setup replaces the poured wine with 100% pure Argon gas to prevent oxygen from entering your opened vessel.
Seven craft bourbons hailing from seven different states — that’d be Breckenridge Distillery (CO), OOLA Distillery (WA), Balcones (TX), Kings County (NY), New Holland Brewing (MI), High Wire Distilling (SC) and Hartfield & Co. (KY) — are married together by the master blender of spirits club Flaviar to create an infinity whiskey that emphasizes the corn aspect of bourbon. A portion of the proceeds here will be donated to the Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling, which offers technical training and mentorship to underrepresented groups to provide greater career opportunities within the spirits industry.
Brooklyn Kura curates this unique subscription plan, which gives recipients access to exclusive and limited run sakes, all crafted in (surprise!) New York’s coolest borough and at the city’s first sake brewery. Bad news: It’s only available in New York, D.C., Florida and Minnesota. For a more global sake perspective and wider distribution, you can try Tippsy’s sake subscription service.
Your booze should tell a great story. Rum aficionado Ian Burrell (among others) collaborated with Richard Seale, Master Distiller at the world’s most-awarded rum distillery Foursquare (aka “The Pappy of Rum”) on this African-Caribbean hybrid, named named after 18th-century writer, entrepreneur and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano.
Our favorite cold brew coffee liqueur has a $99 special going through Cyber Monday on this bundle of Mr Black and two Single Origin releases (with those beans sourced from Colombia and Ethiopia). We’ve tried all three, and the brand definitely brings much-needed coffee wonkery into the cocktail world — each one has a unique flavor and all of them make for an excellent espresso martini or Old Fashioned riff. (Note: To get that $40 off discount, sign up for Mr Black’s complimentary newsletter via their website.)
An elevated, six-piece set of small-measurement spoons for the bar and kitchen, designed in collaboration by Cocktail Kingdom and cocktail bar guru Jim Meehan. The stainless steel spoons are connected by a key ring and the set comes in a reusable tin box.
In her excellent cocktail tome, Julia Bainbridge — a former Bon Appétit editor and James Beard Award nominee — proves that drinking something sans alcohol doesn’t have to be confined to a health kick or a sober month. It could be about discovering new flavors and learning new kitchen techniques. Or, shockingly, just enjoying a damn good, non-boozy drink.
A natural wine subscription service (or one-time gift boxes, if you prefer) based around sustainability; from there, you can focus your vino preference on different countries, women winemakers or cult wines (among other attributes). Their gift boxes feature vinification, tasting, serving temperature and pairing notes, and the site itself includes additional podcasts and service features about your purchase.
Get one-on-one whiskey knowledge from a former Castle & Key master distiller — who also happens to be the blender behind the surprisingly excellent, Peyton Manning-backed Sweetens Cove. Here, Marianne Eaves presents a membership-based subscription service that provides exclusive access (and conversation) regarding a number of first-taste samples of small batch and single whiskey barrels.
Gift Cards to a Favorite Bar
Simply put, in the time of Covid a good majority of bars and restaurants are going to close permanently without government help (which is doubtful); you can help, however, by finding your giftee’s favorite watering hole or cocktail joint and buying a gift card. One that just crossed our paths: Gin and Juice, which is Chicago’s excellent Three Dots and a Dash team going virtual to offering pick-up/delivery cocktail kits that you can, yes, gift. (Just look at any good local bar’s Instagram and you’ll probably find info on gift cards.)
From the family-owned Champagne house Billecart-Salmon, this barrel-fermented cuvée is entirely vinified in oak and composed of the three Champenois grape varieties in equal proportions. Might as well end your year with a celebratory wine that offers a little more heft and substance (plus an excellent mouthfeel).
We all know the deal with aging spirits: booze gets distilled, booze goes in barrel (usually charred oak of some variety), booze takes on qualities of wood, booze gets tastier. We don’t, however, usually get to take part in that process firsthand. Enter these charred oak sticks from Viski, which are held suspended in your bottle of choice to infuse the contents with some extra character over time. Pro tip: buy two bottles, put the stick in one, and then compare and contrast as you go. After all, the only thing better than a glass of whiskey is two glasses of whiskey.
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