Cheers, Salud, Prost! Our Favorite Spirits Gifts of the Season
READ TIME: 9 MIN.
No doubt 2020 has been an "on the rocks" kind of year, but that wouldn't be such a bad thing in another context. Whether you like your spirits shaken, strained and poured, or straight up with a twist, cocktailing (in moderation) through the holidays is brightening an otherwise dim holiday season.
EDGE editors and contributors searched high and low for our favorite libations of the season, unearthing an array of spirits (along with Instagram-worthy packaging) for the best liquor gifts of 2020.
An easy-to-navigate and incredibly comprehensive site for top-of-the-line spirits, ReserveBar is a must-visit for trendy alcohol gifts. The upscale gift packaging, along with fast and reliable delivery, make ReserveBar a hassle-free way to give the best of premium, reserve spirits, wine and champagne as the perfect holiday gift.
With hundreds of options, including custom engraving and gift sets, where do you begin? Here are some of our favorites:
Stoli Spirit of Stonewall: Limited Edition – Designed by Lisa Marie Thalhammer in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the dynamic label tells the story of the LGBTQ community's "rainbow energy force" as described by the artist. ($35)
Absolut Juice Pear & Elderflower – It was a brave move back in 1981 when Absolut first marketed and opened its arms to the LGBTQ community, paving the way for many brands to follow. Absolut Juice Pear & Elderflower is an ideal no-fuss spirit – just add soda and you have the perfect holiday refresher. ($25)
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label New Year's Set – Ring in the New Year with this classic champagne, which includes glow sticks and goblets for a memorable at-home celebration. ($99)
Essential 1800 Artists Series: Okuda San Miguel Limited Edition Bottle – It might be a while before we can get to Mexico for a margarita, but those gorgeous collector's bottle filled with 1800's silver tequila is the next best thing.
Crystal Head Vodka
What could be better than a bottle of vodka and a piece of home art all in one? Dan Aykroyd and John Alexander designed the eye-catching skull bottle as "a symbol of life, reflecting power and enlightenment." Their collection is not only stunning to look at but beautifully made and terrific in cocktails or simply with a splash of soda.
We love the luminescent Aurora bottle, created in celebration of the Aurora Borealis and made with English wheat and filtered through layers of Herkimer diamonds. Lightly floral with notes of anise and peppercorn, we found it perfect for a late-morning Bloody Mary. ($69.99)
Keep an eye out next summer for the annual Crystal Head Pride bottle, featuring the original recipe and rainbow-hued skull, which will look great on your shelf even when you've drained its contents.
Don Q Gran Reserva XO
There's rum that you kick back with a splash of Coke or ginger ale; then there's the rum that you savor on its own or use in a spirit-forward cocktail. The latest from Don Q is the latter – a spectacularly crafted aged rum that we're craving this holiday season.
Straight from Ponce, Puerto Rico, this a�ejo rum is a signature blend from the distillery's portfolio and now presented in a new bottle design the reflects the heritage of its creators. "This rum blend has been a stellar expression for more than 25 years," says Philippe Brechot, President and CEO of Destiler�a Serrall�s. "We wanted to keep the same great blend of aged rums but present it under the new name of Gran Reserva XO as it better articulates the exclusive nature of the reserve rums that are blended to produce it."
Gran Reserva XO is a blend of rums aged between nine and 12 years in American white oak barrels, with the addition of Solera rums aged up to 55 years, creating a unique balance and signature flavor, including subtle oak nuances and hints of spice that the sherry barrel Solera process imparts. We confess that in addition to enjoying it neat, we've splashed it in our eggnog and coquito. ($72)
Drinks by the Dram Bourbon & American Whiskey Advent Calendar
As a kid, advent calendars were a reason to get holi-dazzled. They brought 24 days of candy and other treats waiting on the other side of a little perforated paper window. Now, thanks to Drinks by the Dram, a grown-up version delivers boozy advent calendars to taste a new tipple daily on the way to Christmas.
The Bourbon & Whiskey Advent Calendar ($213.39) is a can't miss for its boutique, craft, and rye-rich assortment of 24 wax-sealed, 30-milliliter drams of both familiar and small-batch American labels. Advent season never felt so intriguing...or tipsy. Other options to imbibe include Scotch and Japanese whiskies and gin.
Knappogue Castle Single Malt 12 Year Whiskey
Channel a taste of Ireland with some Gaelic spirit this holiday season. Knappogue Castle is a single-malt Irish Whiskey that's as authentic and distinguished as the 15th-century edifice for which it's named. The triple-distilled liquor flows from County Clare in western Ireland, and while the Knappogue (pronounced Nah'pogue) label includes several well-aged expressions – including Knappogue Castle 1951, aged 36 years – the 12-year version is as fine a whiskey as you'll savor. ($54)
Better still, the brand is hosting a months-long celebration of women working in the bar industry called the #knappoguewomeninwhiskey series. They'll release an original cocktail created by an internationally renowned female bartender every two weeks until International Women's Day on March 8, 2021. Sl�inte! (Now you can toast in Gaelic!)
Prisoner Wine Company
Red or white? The question that haunts many a holiday table. Regardless of your pick, this conversation-starter will make an impression if delivered in person or from afar.
The Prisoner Wine Company, Arguably Napa Valley's most intense wine label, makes truly arresting varietals and blends. Its small line of red, white, ros� and sparkling wines, masterfully created by a women-led winemaking team, are bold both in flavor and design.
For holiday sipping and gifting, we turned to the classics. For white, Blindfold 2019 ($32) builds on a chardonnay base and blends crisp citrus and peach notes. Red fans will favor Eternally Silenced 2018 pinot noir ($50) for its notes of cranberry, dark cherry, cedar, and clove – plus its sexy black-wax bottle coating lends a clandestine vibe, great for gifting to someone with a flair for drama.
D.I.Y. Barware From Uncommon Goods
If you're stumped on which spirit to gift, consider some fun and fancy accessories instead. We found dozens of options affordable to indulgent on Uncommon Goods.
Favorites include an Infuse & Pour Alcohol Set ($25), which includes everything you need to make four infused spirits (except the alcohol); The Gourmet's Smoking Cloche ($200), which kisses any cocktail with a kiss of applewood (also great for cheese or other appetizers); and a Homemade Limoncello Kit ($50) to make Italy's most famous digestif. After all, we've got nothing but time.
Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
Before you blow off the notion of a spiced rum as a sophisticated spirit, behold the depth of Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum. Part of the Spiribam fine-rum portfolio, Chairman's Reserve is distilled on the compact Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Sugar cane has been cultivated there since 1765 and forms the flavorful foundation of Chairman's oak-barrel-aged blended rums – considered some of the world's best.
Unlike some spiced rums, Chairman's Reserve uses natural ingredients sourced on St. Lucia, such as vanilla, coconut, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon, and orange. But the added kick comes from bois bande, the local nickname for bark from the Richeria grandis tree, known for its gentle cinnamon-spice flavor and potent aphrodisiac qualities, which translates from French as "erect wood." Enough said. ($27.99)
Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.
Matthew Wexler is a senior editor at EDGE Media Network and author of "Uncommonly Good: Stories of Food, Life & the Birth of Good Commons." Read more of his work at wexlerwrites.com and follow him on social media at @wexlerwrites.