A roundup of great bottles to give as holiday gifts!

A roundup of great bottles to give as holiday gifts!

With Christmas being just 10 days away, there are lots of holiday parties to go to and some people on your list that you haven’t bought for yet. If they happen to be cocktail lovers or if you’re looking for host/hostess gifts, then I have some spirits for you today that would be perfect. I’m giving you recipes as well so you can include them with your gift. First up on the list is Plymouth Gin, a bottle to give to that person in your life that you really want to convert/corrupt into becoming a gin lover! Plymouth is soft, elegant, and very accessible, and is described by Death & Co as an excellent “gateway gin.” I’ve taken their lead here and prepared their recipe for a South Side, an excellent gateway gin cocktail!

South Side

5 mint leaves
2 oz Plymouth gin
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiling water)
1 dash aromatic bitters

Gently muddle the mint with the simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients along with your 1 large cube and 2 small and shake vigorously for 20 seconds, or until the shaker is very cold. Double strain using a Hawthorne strainer and a mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a mint sprig. Enjoy!

While any of the Italian Amari would make a great gift either for the host/hostess or for the cocktail lover in your life, the Montenegro stands out as the most easily approachable and a great place to start. Pictured above is the way I like to drink it best after dinner, over 1 medium cube in an oversized vintage shot glass. Refer back to my post from November 21 for my recipe for a Witchy Woman and to read more about the Montenegro.

The Del Maguey Chichicapa is a little on the pricier side, but it would make an outstanding gift for the tequila or mezcal lover. Made from agave grown in a single village in the mountains of Oaxaca Mexico, it is described as being rich, sweet, and bold with flavors of “butterscotch, smoky bacon, grilled pineapple and sea salt.” The cocktail pictured above is called the Itzamana from Eloisa Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


1½ oz Del Maguey Chichicapa
½ oz Cynar
¼ oz Orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
¼ oz Maraschino Liquor (I used Luxardo)
1 vanilla bean for garnishing

Combine all the ingredients except the vanilla bean in a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir using a long-handled bar spoon until very cold (about 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the vanilla bean and enjoy!

As I’ve said a number of times, Ancho Reyes has become one of my favorite liqueurs to use in cocktails. It’s versatile and fun, adding a real kick to darker drinks like an Old-fashioned, or serving as a counterpart to white rum in a spicy lemonade. The recipe I’m sharing with you is called The Bee Sting from the blog Honey & Birch and is a riff on the classic The Bee’s Knees.

The Bee Sting

2 ounces gin
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz honey simple syrup*
½ oz Ancho Reyes chile liqueur
Lemon slice for garnishing

Add all the ingredients (except for the lemon slice) to the bottom half of a shaker tin. Add your ice (1 large cube and 2 small if you have them on hand). Shake for 15-20 seconds until cold. Strain using a Hawthorne strainer and then pour over ice into a Collins glass. Garnish with the lemon slice. Enjoy!

*To make honey simple syrup, combine ½ cup water and ½ cup honey in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until honey dissolves, stirring occasionally. When honey has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool before using. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.

Any of the historical spirits from Art in the Age would make a truly unique holiday gift to give your cocktail lover. There are 4 varieties: Root, Sage, Rhubarb, and Snap, each based on a recipe from the colonial era. The AITA website has a collection of great recipes; what’s pictured above is my Scrooge and Marley, a holiday drink posted earlier this week.

Scrooge and Marley

2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
¾ oz ROOT liqueur
¼ oz burnt sugar syrup*
2 dashes Jack Rudy aromatic bitters
Orange peel for garnishing

Combine all the ingredients except the orange peel in a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir using a long-handled bar spoon until very cold (about 45 seconds). Strain using a julep strainer and pour into an old-fashioned glass over 1 large cube. Express the orange peel over the drink. Garnish and enjoy!

*Heat 2 cups brown sugar over low heat until melted; don’t stir it too much, but be careful not to let it really burn. Remove from heat and slowly add 1 cup hot water ( it will splatter some but will calm down as the water goes in). Stir together well. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking another 5 minutes over low heat. Syrup will be thin when hot and thickens as it cools. You can make less than this. Just keep the ratio at 2:1.

All the bottles I’ve talked about today are available at Canal’s on Rte 38 in Pennsauken or Total Wine and More in Cherry Hill. If you click on the print button on this post you’ll be able to edit out everything except the recipe you want to print.

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