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Gift Guide: Best Bottles of Spirits, Bubbly & More

Gift Guide: Best Bottles of Spirits, Bubbly & More

Spiritscollage-cr you're looking for cocktail inspiration or a party favor, here's a selection of boozy beverages and accessories to please anyone on your list. Or just keep it for yourself!

Hibiki 17 & Hibiki 21


Japanese whiskys have been nailing it in global spirits competitions for the past decade, and the precision, artistry and meticulous technique Hibiki Suntory Whisky brings to the category are producing real stunners that top best ofs lights every year. Hibiki's 17 & 21 are new to the US market, and they are glorious. Both are aged in part is casks made from Mizunara, or Japanese Oak, a scarce wood that is difficult to work with and yields a distinctive, elegant Japanese terroir to the finished spirit. The 17 has notes of stone fruit and bright citrus and is beautifully balanced, with a soft finish that is almost lychee-like. The 21 may be the godhead of Japanese whisky, endlessly complex, long-lasting on the palate and highly luxurious, to the palate as well as the eye. Fun party trivia: The 24 sides of the the smart bottle correspond to the 24 seasons in the traditional Japanese calendar.

Absolut Andy Warhol Edition


Bringing a bottle of vodka to a party never goes out of style, and this year's limited-edition bottle (only four million produced) was created by transforming Warhol's original 1986 artwork inspired by Absolut into a three-dimensional bottle. It easily allows anyone to "Make the Holidays Pop" with their very own Warhol.

Kavalan Solist Fino

For that special someone on your list who has been a very, very, good boy this year. Extremely luxe whisky from Taiwan's nascent--but excellent--whisky industry. The intense heat and moisture make for thick rich liquids, and the Kavalan Fino aged in fino port casks and is astoundingly supple and layered. Clocking in around $400, this is perfect for that whisky connoisseur on the tippy top of your gift list--but you will doubtless be thanked in spades for it.

Botanivore Gin


With lots of great gins out there, we look to one of the boutique varieties to get our juniper fix. This craft distillery (started in 1982 by Jorg Rupf) is located in Alameda, California, and the Botanivore Gin contains 19 botanicals: juniper berries, cinnamon, citra hops, angelica root, cilantro, lime peel, coriander, dill seeds, bay laurel, fennel seeds, black pepper, bergamot peel, lemon peel, caraway, cardamom, Seville orange peel, orris root, ginger and star anise. It plays well in any gin cocktail, and we agree: it's "all you need for the perfect Martini."

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon

For the daddy on your list: Wild Turkey's Jimmy Russell has been making bourbon longer than anyone else in the world, starting in 1954, the same year Elvis recorded his first single. Jimmy's son, Eddie Russell, who happens to be Master Distiller, has created the Diamond Anniversary as tribute to his father's years of service to the bourbon faithful, and tailor made it to Jimmy's palate. Rich with caramel and vanilla notes and a spicy oak finish, this one is a piece of bourbon history.

Ilegal Mezcal Reposado


Don't worry, despite the name, this must-try booze is totally legal. The small batch mezcal (if you haven't moved on from your tequila to this spirit, it's time to start) from the Oaxaca region of Mexico is buttery and rich after being aged in new oak for four to five months. Try all three -- the joven, reposado, and anejo -- to get the full tasting pleasure. And remember: this won't be a downer, rather it's a bit of a stimulant to start or end your evening. Try with a side of orange wedges if you want to cleanse the palate in between sips. Or just go it alone and savor.

Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters

Tucked away at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, turn-of-the-century style Dead Rabbit has swept so many bar awards it's become the Meryl Streep of the international craft bar scene. When developing their lauded cocktail menu owners Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon could not find the exact right bitters for their needs--so they developed their own. Their Orinoco Bitters are superficially similar to the complex, universal Angostura Bitters, but are decidedly more bitter, contain actual Angostura root (unlike the eponymous bitters), and are rich with Christmasy flavors. Rocking these bitters for a home bar is like capturing Dead Rabbit's magic in a bottle--this is the killer gift for your favorite cocktail geek.

Tuthilltown Spirits Basement Bitters

On the other end of the spectrum from Orinoco Bitters, Tuthilltown Spirits (makers of Hudson Whisky) designed their Basement Bitters to be rich with Sarsaparilla goodness, a dozen herbs and other botanicals, and sweetened by local maple syrup. These bitters are great on whiskey drinks, and adding a few drops to a tall soda water makes a great non-alcoholic cocktail.

Ruffino Modus Luminaria

Ruffino has released something extremely special. This limited edition gift box from the iconic Tuscan winery not only showcases its acclaimed Super Tuscan wine, 2011 Modus. The Milan design school created the innovative design: a brushed gold metal sleeve, portraying elegant Florentine designs, encases the gift set's sapphire-colored varnished wood that holds the wine. After the wine is enjoyed the gold metal sleeve transforms into a decorative lantern by placing a votive candle in the center.

Available for purchase for $89 at

Highland Park Dark Origins Single Malt Scotch


Our favorite Scotch launched a new edition this year, Highland Park Dark Origins. A naturally darker, richer flavor than classic Highland Park 12- or 15-year-old -- with sherried spice, a chocolate twist and a touch of sweet smoke on the nose-- it retails at $79.99 per bottle.

The Western states are know for putting out great wines and beers, but whiskeys are a recent development and there's been a huge growth in the category from Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. Sonoma Rye Whiskey is smooth almost too drinkable, and should be of special interest for the growing number of rye lovers. It's aged in new charred American oak barrels then finished in old wood, and bursts with pronounced notes of vanilla and pepper. Westland American Single Malt Whisky, from Washington State, takes a page from the craft-brewing culture of the region, building upon a base of pale barley malt with specialty malts to impart notes of chocolate, nuts, pastries, vanilla and raisins. This one tastes like it's from the oven as much as the still, and is sweet and easy on the palate. There's a cult-like fandom for Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey which has only just rolled out nationally; the extremely small batch spirit is made with 100 percent malt, and benefiting from that pure, crisp Rocky Mountain water.

Moet & Chandon 2005 Grand Vintage Brut

Because no holiday season is complete without some really good champagne. Moet & Chandon 2006 Grand Vintage Brut, aged for seven years, is crisp with floral notes and a long, evolving finish. Let the beads (the technical name for the bubbles) tickle your nose--anytime of year.

Cruzan Single Barrel

Located on the Island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cruzan Rum Company continues to produce some of the highest quality rums. The single barrel rums are produced by from a blend of vintage rums which have been aged up to 12 years and then finished for another year in a new barrel. Each bottle will be different, yet with similar characteristics, plus the elegant bottle looks nice on any shelf.

Tonicwater4packFever Tree Tonics

England's Fever Tree tonics debuted half a decade ago as the cocktail boom was going into full swing. The proprietors noted that while artisanal spirits--gins in particular--were suddenly everywhere, the same mass-produced, thick, syrupy and cheaply made tonics were the only thing you could find for your Hendrick's & tonic. They pored over history books to research tonics of the past, then set out on a global search for the best botanicals for their formulation. The resulting crisp, complex-yet-subtle tonic helped revive the G & T, and their Oth_picksgold_0000_gld_web1further offerings aim to continue to shake up the mixer market. Their Ginger Beer makes a effervescent Moscow Mule, and the new Mediterranean Tonic Water has more herby flavor with a lingering rosemary note. The Bitter Lemon also works marvellously as a hangover-easer.

Cocktail Kingdom Gold Cocktail Picks

The gold finished cocktail picks from go-to cocktail accessories & tool outfit Cocktail Kingdom are oh-so choice, and effortlessly dress up any cocktail.

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

These rich, savory cherries soaked in a sugar syrup and boosted by Maraschino liqueur, truly indispensable for a proper Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Luxardos are tragically often out of stock in specialty food shops, particularly when it's hours before a cocktail party. Gift these and be the most popular guest at the holiday cocktail party. And at $20 they are priced great for a Secret Santa gift.

Usagi Bar Accesories

From Cocktail Kingdom comes a trio of gifts for the family that shakes together: the Usagi Cobbler Shaker Dog Toy ($8.95), the Usagi Cobbler Shaker Baby Rattle -- for gettin' em trained early ($8.95), and for the big baby the real thing: the Usagi Heavyweight Cocktail Shaker for $42.95.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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