Gift Guide: For those enjoy a drink or five, the holiday season is indeed the most wonderful time of the year
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Rightly or wrongly, for some folks the country standard “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” isn’t funny, but instead a cry for help to be played right before the inevitable call to social services. (Feel free to substitute Mommy in the previous sentence). Guess which side we fall on. The following four gifts (which you can also source with a quick Google search) will all help make Christmas a little brighter for those who see nothing wrong with getting their glow on during the holiday season. All together now: "Please daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas, I don't wanna see my mamma cry." Or, if you prefer, "Please mamma, don't get drunk this Christmas, I don't wanna see my daddy cry." Yes, it works both ways.
The box proudly trumpets “carbonated drink maker”, initially leading one to think that Drinkmate was created for those who, inexplicably, are of the opinion that tap water tastes best when turned into a poor man’s Perrier. But that box is also festooned with photos of a half-filled wine glass, what may or may not be (but probably is) beautifully boozy cocktails like the classic Mojito, Southern Peach Tea, Canadian Cream Soda, and, um, a beer (maybe don’t try that one at home). Home carbonators aren’t exactly new, but if you’ve ever used your Sodastream after you’ve added the syrup, or decided to turn orange juice into a DIY Sanpellegrino, you know that thing has a tendency to blow like Old Faithful. Drinkmate has been designed so you can carbonate anything from cranberry juice to, um, milk, but your favourite amateur bartender will have other things in mind. There’s nothing worse than thinking “Man, I’d really like a mimosa—or, even better a French 75” on a Sunday morning when there’s no Prosecco or Dom Perignon in the house. Same with a Perfect Pear, Death in the Afternoon, Ginger Highball, Winter Margarita, hi-fizz eggnog, or sparkling glass of Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old bourbon. Problem solved. (drinkmate-canada.com.)
Reifel Rye Canadian Rye Whisky
If there’s one thing your favourite Liquor Nerd will never be disappointed to find under the tree it’s, well, liquor. Along with three viewings of Elf, the collected Christmas songs of Sufjan Stevens, and Earthborne Organic Mandarin oranges, it’s what gets most of us through the holidays. While the Americans have their bourbon and the Scottish their Scotch, here in Canada we’re perhaps most proud of our rye. A new spirit from the innovators at Alberta Distillers, Reifel Rye starts with homegrown Canuck rye grain from golden Prairie fields, and pristine glacier water that runs from the towering Rockies, and finishes its journey in charred white oak and American bourbon barrels. What you get, from a distillery famous for its internationally recognized rye, is a beyond-ultra-smooth, winningly floral offering with marked notes of soft leather, whisps of toffee and caramelized apple. Alberta Distillers are definitely onto something—its Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye cleaned up at both the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Canadian Whisky Awards. With Reifel Rye the team across the Rockies makes it clear, once again, what all the more-than-deserved buzz is about. (Legacy Liquor Store.)
KLDFJ Cocktail Smoker Kit
If you’ve been lucky enough to spend a night at the Canon Bar in Seattle you might have enjoyed a smoked Skull & Blackberries—the key word there being smoked. That’s where the wood chips come up, the butane torch comes out, and cocktail-making becomes a full-on show. Adventurists looking to make smoked cocktails at home have options—you can put a teaspoon of cherry wood on a plate, cookie sheet, or your spouse’s heirloom China, launch an impromptu Survivor fire-making challenge, and then make sure the fire detector is covered with a plastic bag. The KLDFJ makes things considerably easier in that you drop a pinch of the included walnut, apple, cherry, or oak wood chips into the metal filter, place the smoke infuser on the glass, and then crank up the Prodigy’s “Firestarter”. Go the modern-cocktail route with a Bourbon Toscano or add a new level of complexity to a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned. (amazon.ca).
Stanley Park Brewing All Spruced Up IPA/Tofino Brewing Company Spruce Tree Ale
While no one likes to play favourites unless absolutely necessary, there’s a beer from Tofino great enough to make you wish every day could start with a walk on Mackenzie Beach and end up on a barstool with a tall Spruce Tree Ale. Yes, Tofino Brewing Company has come up with something magical, and maddeningly unavailable in Vancouver. For those who like their beer infused with the best that British Columbia’s rainforests have to offer, Stanley Park Brewing has stepped up with its own offering, with All Spruced IPA brewed with not only B.C.-grown Centennial and Chinook hops, but, you guessed it, generous helpings of spruce tips. The IPA pours cloudy, and offers not only delicate citrus and subtle peppery-spice, but, as one might hope for, a peak-West Coast piney undertow. Stanley Park’s All Spruced Up is just here for the holidays, while Tofino’s Spruce Tree Ale is available year-round, although you more or less have to get on a ferry and make the trip across Vancouver Island if you’re hoping to score some. Bundle both together and then add a spruce seedling for a truly Beautiful B.C. touch—the great thing being that, the more spruce tips in the world, the more spruce tip beer. (Stanley Park Brewing/Tofino Brewing Company.)
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