Liquor Nerd: Get the jump on Mother's Day with top-flight tea, Polish-style honey liqueur, and a homegrown tiki kit

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      Flowers are nice for a day or two, and chocolates are wonderful until the guilt sets in, but sometimes the mom in your life needs something with a little kick to get her through the day. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, spring for one of the following four gifts, and then make sure to remind her that somewhere it’s 5 o’clock, with the caveat that, even if it isn’t, she’s certainly earned the right to pretend it is.

      Gancia Prosecco

      Here’s one of the unavoidable realities of Mother’s Day: it’s almost impossible to do breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner without making a mess of the kitchen. That goes double when there’s six-berry pancakes, a seven-layer salad, or nine-cheese lasagna on the menu. Or fresh-squeezed orange juice made from a mountain of Valencia, blood, tangerine, and clementine oranges.

      Honestly—ask the mother in your life if she’d rather have McDonald’s takeout or a kitchen that looks like the entire Food Network exploded in it, and you can guess the answer ahead of time. Compensate for the horror with a bottle of Gancia Prosecco, an unapologetically unfussy and easy-to-drink offering from the 170-year-old winery where the motto is “Born in Italy, before Italy.”

      Fruit-forward—with crisp Anjou pear and green apple leading the charge—Gancia Prosecco holds its own chilled, but don’t let that stop you from working it for Mother’s Day cocktails. Hello, mid-afternoon faux-French 75 or happy hour Aperol Spritz. Or even better turn that good-morning hand-pressed OJ into an instant breakfast-in-bed Mimosa. Or three, because the good lord knows once Mom sees the carnage in the kitchen, she’s going to need something to take the edge off.

      Tealeaves Pantone Collection Gift Box

      We know what you’re thinking, namely that tea isn’t the most rock ’n’ roll of drinks, especially if you’re looking at Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime offering. (You know the box—it’s the one with the bear wearing a nightgown and sleeping cap, looking like he’s just mainlined 200 mg of melatonin after reading nine chapters of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.) But here’s something that every bartender with their own monogrammed Cocktail Kingdom Koriko shaker knows: tea makes for a killer secret weapon in a cocktail.
      Before we get into that, it’s important to keep in mind that a quality drink starts with quality ingredients. So unless your mother’s name is Sarah “Afterschool Special” Travis, she won’t be impressed by three ounces of Flash Point Cinnamon “whiskey” infused with Lipton Yellow Label black tea and then mixed with ReaLime and sweetened with Mrs. Butterworth’s “maple” syrup.

      Now back to the secret cocktail weapon. Vancouver-based Tealeaves started out with a looseleaf Lotusland retail store in the ’90s, and has since become the go-to brand for five-star hotels, celebrity chef-driven restaurants, and gold-standard bartenders around the globe. Tealeaves Pantone Collection Gift Box features the favourites of the company’s master blender, including Monsoon Chai, Earl Grey With Lavender, Vanilla Rooibos, and Imperial Oolong.

      Fantastically, each box also comes with a Tealeaves X Pantone booklet of cocktail recipes created at iconic spots like the Beverly Hills Hotel, Four Seasons Toronto, and Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver. Complex in the glass, yet easy to execute at home, the enclosed recipes (each corresponding to a Pantone colour) will instantly up the cocktail game of any bartender not named Cara Watson, Monica Berg, or Kat Stanley-Whyte. After she’s opened the box, ask Mom to whip up a gorgeously deadly, orange-hued Dreams of Sunset (aged rum, Angostura bitters, fresh lemon juice, Vanilla Rooibos simple syrup, egg whites, and Chinese five spice powder). Not just for herself, but for the whole family, kidlets excluded, unless you live in the U.K. where the drinking age starts at 5. Or, you know, she can just have a tea.

      Wayward Distillery Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur

      Because no one’s going to improve on what Wayward has to say about its Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur, let’s turn the floor over to the distillery for a second. The wording on the back label starts with this: “Before you open this bottle Wayward would like to apologize. We are about to ruin your drinking life with this golden-hued, Polish gem called Krupnik. Like cinnamon whisky or spiced rum but better, Krupnik is infused with toasted honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, raw vanilla and citrus peel. To save yourself from this addictive spirit it should NEVER be mixed with sparkling apple, ginger beer or chai tea. And never you mind that favourite flask... Once you have opened this you won’t be able to stop and we’re sorry. So sorry.”

      Your mother has been warned.

      And she can feel great that 1 percent of this sinfully delicious honey liqueur will be earmarked by Wayward Distillery for the protection of bees and other pollinators on Vancouver Island. So, of course, they can help make more Krupnik.

      Sons of Vancouver Tiki Trio Combo Pack

      Let’s start with the assumption that favourite things of the mom in your life include a good Mai Tai, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, the cocktail bars of Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber, and Tiki Sundays at Sons of Vancouver. Those who’ve made the trek to the North Shore for the latter know that the weekly tropical bacchanalia features house tiki mugs (created specifically for Sons of Vancouver by local artist Paul Tanner), and that they come in multiple colours, including wasabi green, mulberry purple, and sky blue.

      And then of course there’s one of the big reasons to love Sons of Vancouver, namely tropical-heaven offerings like the distillery’s award-winning Blue Curacao, Toasted Coconut liqueur, and Tiki Creamer. Pick up the SOV April Fools Combo pack for Mother’s Day, and someone special gets all three liqueurs, plus a Tanner-created house mug. Throw in an Alfred Shaheen hibiscus lei print swing dress, and the South Pacific soundtrack on vinyl, and that tiki-loving mom in your life is guaranteed to think you’re the greatest thing this side of Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii. Or Trader Vic, Don the Beachcomber, and an authentic Mai Tai.