It’s the season of giving — and the daunting task of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. In today’s era of instant gratification and over-the-top consumption, it can be a backbreaking chore to find an original offering for people who seem to have it all. Fortunately for me, a cocktail lover, most of my friends enjoy a well-crafted drink as much as I do. So, I base my shopping list on a few key elements for creating a delicious tipple. Here are my top five gift picks for cocktail lovers:
1. Bluecoat Gin – The gin market is hot once again, with the emergence of the “American-Style” gin, which boasts softer juniper notes and a mix of botanicals and citrus flavors. Distilled in Philadelphia, Bluecoat is my favorite out of the new crop of craft gins. It has a strong floral character and finishes with slightly sweet touch. I’ve always loved gin and tonics during the holidays — the piney juniper flavor always reminds me of Christmas trees (And my Uncle Joe who had a bar and slot machine in his basement). Mix this spirit for a classic G&T, and let the complexity of Bluecoat shine through. Bluecoat is packaged in an exquisitely patterned royal blue bottle that makes it as elegant on the outside as it is on the inside.
2. St Germain – This liqueur set the cocktail world on fire after its introduction in 2007. Made from elderflower blossoms, St Germain boasts a truly unique flavor that’s hard to put a finger on – think honeysuckle or a fresh spring meadow. Plus, there’s a cute story about how the delicate elderflowers bloom for only a few weeks each year in the Alps and are hand-picked by harvesters who transport them to market on their specially rigged bicycles at their peak. Mix this liqueur with a sparking wine for a festive bubbly tipple – it’s an easy drink that’s both sophisticated and refreshing. The bottle is crafted in art nouveau style that would make a classy addition to any home bar.
3. Domain de Canton – Forged from baby Vietnamese ginger, Cognac. Tahitian vanilla, Provencal honey, and Tunisian ginseng, Domain de Canton will add an exotic twist to your drink repertoire. This spicy liqueur will lend a dash of winter warmth and spice to many classic cocktails. Use it in a Cosmopolitan to make a cozy ginger-cranberry holiday treat perfect for snuggling by the fire. The bottle is crafted formed to resemble an oversized stock of bamboo — very modern and chic.
4. Ultimat Vodka – While most cocktail snobs will turn their nose up at vodka, you can’t deny this versatile spirit makes a good gift for those who do not enjoy strong-favored liquors. Brought to you by the same people who made Patron tequila a status symbol, Ultimat is distilled from three sources — wheat, rye and potatoes — then blended. Serve this one straight up in a chilled martini with a twist of lemon. It’s packaged in a hand-blown cobalt blue crystal decanter.
5. Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project Bourbon – This one will appeal to both the bourbon lover and the scientist. This limited edition collection started off as an experiment of sorts. According to Buffalo Trace, 96 American oak trees were individually selected from the Missouri Ozarks. The trees differed according to the number of growth rings per inch and growing location. Each tree was then cut into two parts — top and bottom — yielding 192 unique tree sections. A single barrel was constructed from each unique section. These single oak barrels were then filled with different recipe whiskeys, at various entry proofs and aged in a variety of different warehouse styles. Now, more than a decade later, each of these bourbons are available in individually hand-numbered bottles that whiskey aficionados can collect, compare and contrast. Or you can just make fantastic Manhattan.
• 2 oz Bourbon
• 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
• 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
• Maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
These and many other gift ideas are available at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.