Earlier this week, we gave you a can’t-miss list of spirits that make for perfect Christmas gifts this holiday. Because, as everyone knows, one is never enough when you’re having drinks, here’s round two to help with your holiday shopping. And remember—there are worse things in life that someone showing up unexpectedly toting a box of Turtles. Remember how, this time last year, you would have done anything for a little holiday company? Even if said company arrived with a $6.99 box of Pot of Gold chocolates, and then played The Thing That Wouldn't Leave for six hours? Trust us—even if you don't remember, we do. So make this Christmas count.
DIY Aperol Spritz Kits
Some Christmas traditions are more beloved than others. If you want good, start with mincemeat tarts, homemade Alton Brown-recipe eggnog, and mandarin oranges (the sour, not the sweet, ones). And then there are the downers: discovering that last year’s NOMA Quick-Clip 25 C9 purple LED Lights have stopped working after 11 months in storage, Lucerne horse-glue eggnog, and those well-meaning friends who drop in with zero notice (usually while you’re in the middle of making homemade Alton Brown Eggnog). Unexpected company is part of the holidays, so help a friend make sure they’re always prepared with a DIY Aperol’s one-stop spritz kits. Should you be living in a more civilized part of the country (ie. Ontario), you’d be able to load up on pre-packaged kits containing a 375 ml bottle of Aperol, and 375 ml Ruffino Prosecco D.O.C. At the moment in these parts, however, you’re going to have to buy your Aperol and a lunch-kit-size Ruffino seperately and bundle together in a gift bag. From there grab a handful of ice cubes and a wine glass, add three ounces of the Prosecco, two ounces of Aperol, top with soda, and add a lemon rind and frozen cranberries. Viola—you’ve got a truly fancy-looking and festive drink that’s easy to pull together at a moment’s notice. In other words, after you’ve given away a DIY Aperol Spritz Kit or three (making sure to keep a couple on hand for yourself) don’t be shy about popping in unannounced. Some gifts really do give back. (Aperol Aperitivo $14.49/Ruffino Prosecco $16.99 at B.C. Liquor stores)
Fuse & Sip
Sticking with the idea that it pays to be prepared at Christmas, Squamish-based Fuse&Sip makes it easy for home bartenders to up their cocktail game with infusion kits that take gin, vodka, whisky, or whatever else you might have on had to wild new places. Simplicity is the key here. Start by cracking open a Fuse&Sip package (which can include everything from dried fruit to flowers to herbs), then dump the all-natural ingredients into a container, add alcohol of your choice, and wait for a couple of days. Strain, and you’ve got a fancy premix for when guests show up unexpectedly with a box of Turtles and a DVD of Silent Night, Deadly Night that they insist you need to watch right bloody now instead of Elf. Give a Fuse & Sip collection as a gift, and then flip the script a couple of days after Christmas by dropping in unannounced, except maybe bring Terror Train for the New Year’s Eve angle. Seasonally appropriate kits include the Mulling It Over Mulled Wine Kit (spice with cranberry, orange, cinnamon, star anise, clove & organic cane sugar) and Toque Time Hot Toddy (lemon, apple, sarsaparilla root, echinacea, allspice). (From $15-$20 at fuseandsip.com)
Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
Talk about not only packing a punch, but the kind of punch that pretty much hits you right between the eyes. As promised by its name, Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye comes with a 63.7 percent ABV wallop, which means you’ll want to be prepared for a whisky best described as ultra-boozy. But while it’s hot and fiery on the first sip, it goes down surprisingly smooth, with a hint of deliciously bitter chocolate on the back end. Put down your steno pad if you’re hoping to make notes about a premium whisky smelling of locally-sourced prairie rye and tanned cow-country leather, because there’s nothing subtle about it when you’ve got your nose in the glass. Instead buckle in and enjoy the raw and over-the-top ride—adding a splash of water or ice cube if you need to take the bold edge off. The 2020 edition of Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye took home Best Canadian Whisky at this year’s International Whisky Competition in Estes Park, Colorado. So if you’re looking to give a gift that says you not only care, but care a lot, start here. ($65.99, with a one-bottle limit, at B.C. Liquor stores)
Fuse Apple Nano Shot
Everyone loves shots, for no other reason than they’re a famous celebratory way to get the party not only started, but with a bang. But what if you’re looking to branch out from go-tos like tequila, whisky, Goldschläger, Jägermeister, and Scottish Snake Venom. Vancouver-based Fuse has jumped into a game normally dominated by alcohol with its Apple Nano Shots. (For those who don’t particularly enjoy America’s favourite fruit-pie filling, the shots also come in mango and frappe flavours). Each one-ounce bottle contains 10 mg of THC, and provides lift off roughly 10 to 20 min after consumption. The shot has the same neon-green hue as absinthe, and tastes like someone melted a Jolly Rancher in a cup of hibiscus tea and then added a splash of cough syrups—which is to say somewhere between herbal, fruits, and medicine-like. Your buzz will last around an hour and a half—unlike that last time you had two tequilas on the starting line, followed those up with five or six more, and then wished the bed would stop driving backwards at 90 miles an hour. Give a Christmas gift that’s guaranteed to leave no hangover, with the added bonus being that it’s both gluten-free and vegan—unlike those Tapeworm shooters you had last week, where the special mayonnaise and Tabasco ingredients didn’t seem like such a good idea after round six. ($5.99 at bccannabisstores.com)
Tofino Distillery Psychedelic Jellyfish Absinthe
In a best-possible world—ie. one where the West Coast monsoons of 2021 let up for more than 24 hours—you’ll be lucky enough to pick up a bottle of Psychedelic Jellyfish Absinthe where it’s made, namely wonderfully wild Tofino. Amble down to Mackenzie Beach, pop the top, settle in for an afternoon of storm watching (sugar cubes and water optional), and you’ve just given yourself a truly memorable holiday-season present. Pick up a second bottle of this craft-style take on the fabled Green Fairy, and you’ve got a perfect gift for those who don’t need Paris when majestic Pacific Rim National Park is a ferry ride away. Billed as “an exclusive blend of pristine water from the west coast of Vancouver Island and a mystical blend of certified organic botanicals”, Psychedelic Jellyfish Absinthe is pleasantly viscous while fittingly heavy on licorice-a-licious anise. Add a double-honeyed herbal finish and you’ve got something that the ghost of Vincent Van Gogh would wrestle Oscar Wilde—or a Lion’s mane jellyfish—to get its hands on. ($75 at tofinocraftdistillery.com).