Serious wine and spirits people can get set in their ways—this year, give them something to spice up their routine. We’ve sussed out some of the year’s most interesting libations, plus glassware and accessories that will excite even the most staid drinkers. From a Brooklyn-made chartreuse substitute to artisanal pine soju to sommelier-approved wine-scented candles, there’s something here to surprise and delight all of the imbibers in your life.
The ongoing chartreuse shortage has been a hot topic on the SAVEUR Slack channels. How else will we make a classic Last Word or a newfangled Celery Gimlet? Luckily, we found Brooklyn-based spirits producer Faccia Brutto’s Centerbe (Italian for “100 herbs”) to be more than a worthy substitute. Faccia Brutto’s version only calls for 20 herbs—half dried (like lemon balm, anise hyssop, nettles, and coriander) and half fresh (including parsley, tarragon, bay leaves and marjoram)—but still packs plenty of botanical punch.
The venerable cocktail pros at Death & Co. have ventured into barware with modern homewares company Material. The new line includes a pitcher and jigger of sturdy borosilicate glass in a variety of colors, accompanied by a double-sided bar tool with a spoon at one end and a muddler at the other, a handy trick for efficient mixologists. Whether your gift recipients enjoy their martinis shaken, or stirred in a fabulous pitcher with a wavy handle, they’ll welcome this friendly set to their bar cart.
While we’ll always have a soft spot for mass-market green-bottle soju, it’s super exciting to see artisanal producers gain more traction in the U.S. Damsoul’s small-batch, higher-ABV (40%) soju is a standout. Made by brewing rice with pine and spruce needles, the silky-smooth, lightly sweet liquor boasts an intoxicating woodsy aroma that might just rival the scent of your Christmas tree.
We received a record number of inquiries when we posted our Classic Martini in this Nick and Nora glass on Instagram earlier this year. Delicately curved with a narrow mouth, it’s the most elegant, impressive vessel for martinis, Manhattans, Negronis, you name it. Not only is the finely crafted handblown glass a delight to use, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s also dishwasher-safe.
Whether you’re having drinks indoors or out, nobody wants a tepid glass of wine. Enter this durable new wine chiller from YETI. Just add a chilled bottle of your favorite wine or champagne, and the double-wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel will keep it at the ideal serving temperature. While you can’t go wrong with any of the colors, the limited-edition red looks particularly festive—and would make a perfect gift for any holiday host.
This Chinato is simply one of the best after-dinner drinks we’ve ever had. We first tried it at King in NYC and have been thinking about it (and stockpiling bottles) ever since. China, which means “quinine bark” in Italian, is one of the traditional bittering agents in Chinato—and just one of the ingredients in the Cappellano family’s secret recipe. It starts with a base of their legendary Barolo and adds nearly two-dozen botanicals and spices, from orange zest and rhubarb to cardamom and cloves, resulting in a gorgeously balanced digestivo with an ultra-velvety finish.
Encapsulating two centuries’ worth of French wine culture into a compelling book seems like an impossible feat, but after eight years of research, author and former San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné has pulled it off with aplomb. Over the course of two epic volumes, he takes readers through France, region by region, covering 800 producers and more than 7,000 wines, offering consistently insightful opinions formed by his immersion in the world of French wine along the way. Delivering on style as well as substance, this beautifully designed box set is truly a must-have for any wine lover.
Gone are the days when a cherry in your cocktail meant braving a neon-red, chemically altered sphere (or simply leaving it at the bottom of the glass). Tempus Fugit’s wild amarena cherries are bursting with flavor after they’ve been candied in a concentrated sugar syrup then allowed to swim in another syrup with warm baking spices and kirsch. The result is a cherry with the firm, chewy texture of candied fruit that adds body and depth to any cocktail it touches.
Clothing designer Billy Reid has teamed up with Williams Sonoma on a line of distinctive barware that reflects his Southern heritage. Our favorite piece? This elegant shell-shaped strainer that hangs neatly on the side of a stirring glass when not in use, but is worth displaying during cocktail hour and beyond.
Whether you’re seeking a gift for a nondrinker, occasional abstainer, or spritz lover, look no further than this zero-proof aperitif. Bright and citrusy with spicy notes of ginger and clove, Fiore is a fantastic nonalcoholic alternative to Campari or Aperol—and a great drink in its own right. It’s equally enjoyable neat or mixed with sparkling water or tonic, and a portion of the proceeds from every bottle is donated to Partnership to End Addiction and 1% for the Planet.
Finally, a collection of candles with some serious sommelier street cred! Charleston-based candle company Rewined collaborated with two local sommeliers (Matthew Conway and Bethany Heinze of The Tippling House and Vern’s, respectively) and two farther afield (David Rosoff of L.A.’s Bar Moruno and Eduardo Porto Carreiro of Atlanta’s Rocket Farm Restaurants) on four new scents: Gamay, Nebbiolo, Orange Wine, and Syrah. Each candle captures the complexity of the varietal it was inspired by and bears the signature of the sommelier who worked on it.
Earlier this year, the federal Tax and Trade Bureau announced plans to establish a standard identity for American single-malt whisky. Regulations will include a strict requirement that spirits granted the designation be produced and aged entirely in the United States. Wassaic, New York producer Tenmile Distillery is already taking the assignment one step further. Master distiller Shane Fraser sources all of the barley used in his recently released Little Rest American Single Malt from within a few miles of Tenmile’s gleaming Scottish copper stills. The result is an elegant expression of craft and terroir worthy of any whisky- (or whiskey-) lover’s holiday table. Tuck the snazzy boxed set—which comes with a set of matching cut glass tumblers—under the tree, and order an extra bottle or two for yourself.
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