During the holidays, there are so many things to make a list for and check twice. The obligations are stacked up tall and sometimes you need a quick fix to lend a hand in the gift-giving department.
Food is key to a great meal, but tied for second place is the company and the drink.
>> A toast to seven decades of memories at celebrated Dayton bourbon bar
If you can find the right bottle to gift, it’s as easy as it comes and much appreciated.
Here are a dozen bottles, in honor of the 12 days of Christmas, that are sure to bring some added warmth and spirit to the holidays.
These can be found in most local liquor stores alongside all of the usual suspects that are also viable options depending on who you are gifting.
>> How to get in on this year’s Pappy Van Winkle bourbon lottery
Pro tip: The new Ohio Liquor website has a handy dandy product tool to search out what bottles are in stock and where if you are interested in tracking any of these down.
This year’s boozy dozen has been chosen because they are either new to the Ohio market, are the ingredients to tasty holiday cocktails, are great conversation pieces or all of the above. Bonus: half of the bottles ring up for under $20.
🍾Kringle Cream, $19.99
A kringle is a hand-rolled Danish pastry filled with fruit, nuts and spices slathered with a thick crown of icing. It’s delicious to eat and even better to drink. Fun fact, it’s the official state pastry of Wisconsin. Made with real Wisconsin cream, the story of how it came to be is compelling. Purchased by Margaret Ebeling in October 2018 from Death’s Door Spirits as they filed bankruptcy, this is the little bottle that could. It’s very rich, so a little goes a long way, Incorporate it into a cream cocktail (think Brandy Alexander or White Russian) or sub it for cream in your coffee and get ready for a savory, nutty, creamy treat.
🍾Sailor Jerry Rum Savage Apple, $17.99
For the last 19 years, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum has stuck to what it does best. This new bottle which is new to the market takes the award-winning Sailor Jerry recipe and blends in real juicy apple. Drink this straight, put it in punch or sangria, mix it with a spicy ginger beer or just drink it on the rocks. Want to look like a genius this holiday season? Buy a bottle of this and start mixing.
🍾Kraken Black Roast Coffee Rum, $18.99
This just came out as a limited edition bottle and it is fantastic. If you have friends that are coffee fiends, you just found their gift. Kraken rum is infused with coffee beans for a dark, rich finish. It mixes well in coffee — hot or cold brew. It’s great in a White Russian bringing a gingerbread, chocolate flavor to it. It’s also great on the rocks. It’s a devilish 66.6 proof and being on the lower side a shot is delightful.
Harlen Wheatley is the Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery, America’s oldest continually-operated distillery — and the world’s most decorated. This is a wheat vodka he created. It’s a conversation piece for bourbon lovers and a bottle that vodka lovers will love. It was just listed this summer in Ohio and is a great host or hostess gift with a bottle that looks like it cost more than it did.
Make your holidays bright with this small-batch bottle from New Zealand that’s a modern take on the original Genever bottles from 200 years ago. In 2018 the gold version of the bottle beat out more than 600 gins from 90 countries to win the London Dry Gin Trophy. This bottle is every bit as good. Brand new to the Ohio market, this bottle made with 12 botanicals has a lot of the holiday flavors you may be looking for — lemon, orange, coriander, cardamom, cloves, juniper berries, nutmeg, angelica root, licorice root, orris, cinnamon and cassia bark. If you want to have one of the hot new bottles on the shelf and you like gin, this is for you.
🍾Bird Dog Black Cherry Flavored Whiskey, $12.99
Black cherry whisky and cola? Black cherry whiskey with eggnog? Black cherry whiskey shot with a Warped Wing Esther’s Little Secret Cherry Codial beer? Black Cherry Whiskey in a Manhattan? Say yes to all. You can’t beat the price and it’s a fun bottle to mix with at holiday parties.
🍾Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino, $39.99-$46.99
Legend dictates that the walnut husks used to make Nocino need to be picked on June 24 — the day of San Giovanni. This nocino, a bitter and sweet walnut liqueur handcrafted in small batches in Washington, D.C., follows the same tradition with hand-harvested green walnuts. What results is a bittersweet liqueur with aromas of green walnuts, baking spices, vanilla and ripe berries, with a rich finish. The recipe being used dates back to 1933. Watershed distillery out of Columbus has a great Nocino that is also worth checking out. Although originally intended as a digestif to sip on after a meal, this is a liquor that mixes well with bourbon and citrus. Definitely a bottle that will spark conversation and interest.
🍾Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, $25.99
I thought it was crazy too. Until I tried it. If you or your giftee likes savory and sweet look no further. This is a new bottle in the state of Ohio that launched on Oct. 1 and they can’t keep it on store shelves. Developed by a foodie in Ocean Beach, California who started serving it as a shot at the local watering hole he owned. What started as a novelty took off. You can now find it incorporated into bar menus all over town including Dublin Pub, Toxic Brew Company, Ned Pepper’s and many others. You can laugh, but don’t knock this until you try it. That and you’ll be an early adopter with some cool points.
This award-winning Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is a good beginning scotch for the bourbon lover in your life. Finished in Buffalo Trace casks, this 8-year-old scotch began selling in Ohio in June. Inspired by the Gaelic word meaning ‘intrepid and daring’, the bourbon casks in American Oak give it a spicy bold flavor with notes of vanilla and toffee.
🍾Middle West Spirits — Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey, $42.18
From the Columbus distillery that brought you OYO comes a bottle that uses grain from all the seasons — sweet yellow corn, soft red winter wheat, dark pumpernickel rye, and two-row barley for a flavor that’s smooth, smoky, and softly sweet. If you want to have something made in Ohio this is a good bottle to show some love to.
Stoli’s flavor of the year rolled out nationwide earlier this year featuring the most popular fruit to pair with vodka and the second-most used ingredient in cocktail recipes overall. It’s bright, flavorful and doesn’t have that artificial made in a laboratory taste. You can find it at Sunday brunch spots through the Oregon District including Canal Street, Trolley Stop and Dublin Pub. Pair it with locally made Rad’s Bloody Mary Mix ($9.95) and you have a gift that will be at the top of the list. It pairs well with tonic, sodas and juice and is a MacGyver bottle that can make quick mixology magic when you are trying to impress guests. Use it in a Bloody Mary the next day when you need a little help getting going.
This traditional Dutch liqueur made from eggs, sugar, brandy and vanilla has a rich and creamy drink has a texture and flavor reminiscent of custard or eggnog. The original recipe is one of Holland's best-kept secrets. You can spike eggnog, but if you want to try something that you've never had before and will get you in the holiday spirit in the same way then this is your bottle and if you can't find it on store shelves you have an easy back-up plan. Bottles are hard to find. An example is Advocaat By the Dutch (www.bythedutch.com).
Wines and beer are always a good hostess gift, but consider getting something that’s holiday-themed. For example Delirium Noel out of Belgium makes a holiday ale that will make you feel the warmth. The bottle is fun and memorable and the beer is spicy and deep. Picking out a host or hostess gift that’s a little off the beaten path says that you put some time in and didn’t grab the first thing on the shelf and it creates conversation.
Another great cocktail related gift is a bitters collection. Bittercube offers a great variety pack featuring six bitter varieties including cherry bark vanilla, Bolivar, orange, Jamaican Nos. 1 and 2 and blackstrap. Most liquor stores will have various variety packs. They are a great gift for those who enjoy imbibing or those who love to cook. Made from roots, barks, fruits, flowers, spices and herbs, these concentrated flavors add depth and complexity to cocktails, tea, coffee and seltzer and can can enhance vinaigrettes, marinades, baked goods and other dishes in the kitchen.
About the Author