Forget scented candles, cashmere socks and gift baskets full of weird chutneys and gross no-refrigeration necessary cheeses. This year, get your loved ones (and not so loved ones) a gift they’ll actually enjoy—alcohol. At least this one won’t languish at the back of a closet or kitchen cabinet. And besides, who couldn’t use a drink after the hell that is the holiday season?
Pappy Van Winkel bourbon, barrel aged for between 10 and 23 years, is basically impossible to obtain even if you can afford the $5,000 that bottles commonly retails for (and that’s if you buy it from a local supplier rather than on the secondary market). This year, it’s even harder to find on the primary market—where specialty store waiting lists top 500—after thieves hit the Buffalo Trace distillery in October and made off with a few of the coveted bottles. But nothing shows the Christmas spirit like blowing both time and money on a rare gift. And if you fail in your quest, you can always buy an empty Pappy bottle on Ebay.
William Larue Weller special reserve bourbon is also produced by Buffalo Trace, as part of its “antique collection,” and is a good deal cheaper (bottles can be found for under $100). Plus, at least some people think it’s as good as Pappy. But while it’s easier to get a bottle of William Larue Weller into the hands of your beloved, this Kentucky bourbon remains elusive.
Maybe your favorite boozehound is more of a DIY-type? Or at least fancies herself a DIY-type? This starter kit for the Brooklyn BrewShop is perfect for the microbrewing enthusiast in your life. But watch out, while $40 might seem like a more than reasonable price to get your friends and family started with beer making, you’ll pay in other ways: having to drink their mediocre homebrew anytime you visit.
Looking for something a little less DIY? Mixology classes, like those offered by Liquid Lab NYC, are a gift that’s also good for the giver. The next time you ask for an old-fashioned, you won’t just get a blank stare.
Then, the next year you can buy your cocktail maven this $82 set of 12 Fee Brothers bitters. Just make sure you write something cheesy on the card like “for the sweetest person I know” so they don’t think you’re being passive aggressive.
Nothing says classy like hauling a huge handle of Jack Daniels off the top of your refrigerator when you have company. Bar carts are great for those who love entertaining. Also great for those who just love drinking. And for those who really want to go the extra mile, try a stocked bar cart.
For those who not only like to drink alcohol, but also to read about it, Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist explores the multitude of herbs, trees, flowers, fruits and fungi that humans have made into booze. Besides, what better tome to take to your local watering hole?
No one has visions of sugar plums running through their heads after attending the Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s opening night gala. Last year’s festivities featured mixologists serving up more than 25,000 artisanal cocktails on four levels of the New York Public Library, with tickets starting just under $200.
CSAs aren’t just for organic vegetables anymore. Big Alice Brewing, a craft operation based out of Long Island City who’s attracted attention for its obscure ingredients (morels, kumquats, purple potatoes) and brews (Curry Leaf Lapsang Smoked Beer, Shiso & Szechuan Honey Pale Ale) offers a beer CSA where members receive two bottles a month.
After all that holiday shopping, you deserve a drink. Try one of these cozy bars with fireplaces or head to Angel’s Share, a high-end cocktail bar hidden behind a secret door on the second floor of Village Yokocho at 8 Stuyvesant Street, and watch the snow fall while sitting next to the the huge picture window.