Holidays call for celebratory moments. Let these boozy holiday gifts enhance whatever you have planned this season, even if it’s at a distant. Show people you care with more unusual items, and let them in for a little surprise.
100-Point 1994 Classic Vintage Ports
For the port lover in your life comes a special edition gift box of re-released Taylor Fladgate 1994 Classic Vintage Port and Fonseca 1994 Classic Vintage Port. These exceptional ports were stored and aged in their respective cellars for 25 years. They received a perfect 100-points score and shared the number-one position on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1997. Only 300 gift boxes are available in the U.S. so act now.
According to Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, “1994 was a textbook year in the vineyard, with low yields and moderate temperatures throughout the season, which made incredible Port with a freshness of fruit that was in character with the 1963s and 1912s.”
Tasting Notes: Taylor Fladgate 1994 Vintage Port is a deep crimson and displays some maturity on the rim. The explosive fruitiness of early youth is now more restrained as the wine begins to settle into maturity, but the nose is still driven by impressive, focused blackberry and blackcurrant aromas set off by the classic Taylor Fladgate scent of violets. This Vintage Port is full-bodied with a well-structured palate, delivering rich blackberry and cassis flavors with spicy, fig, licorice flavors, evolving on the long and sumptuous finish. 20.5% ABV, 375ml
The Fonseca Vintage 1994 Port is a dark red with dense blackcurrant fruit, an incredible balance of fine fruit and first hints of bottle maturity. On the palate it is very full, with lots of fine tannins that carry loads of fresh blackcurrant fruit. It still holds its youth today – a testament of how extraordinary this vintage is, and the capacity it has to continue to age for the rest of this century. 20.5% ABV, 375ml
$299 for the set. taylor.pt/us fonseca.pt/en
Better with Bubbles: An Effervescent Education in Champagnes & Sparkling Wines
As a big fan of Air’s Champagne Parlor in NYC’s West Village, I was delighted to discover that owner Ariel Arce has written a book on champagne. The book draws on Arce’s decade of experience, tasting, and proselytizing, and will educate, amuse, and encourage us to make Champagne and sparkling a go-to in all its incarnations. This book makes the perfect gift for the bubbly lover looking to expand their knowledge and palate.
The book is divided into two sections, one focused specifically on Champagne, the other on sparkling wines from around the world, just like they do at the restaurant. The sparkling section covers the dominant sparkling regions (Italy, Spain, and elsewhere in France), along with exciting newer players like England, America, Australia, and Japan. Ariel shows you how to perfect and discover your particular palate with a choose-your-own-adventure tasting guide. In addition, you can learn what to wear—and not wear—to a vineyard, and the best way to throw a Champagne pizza party.
Ariel Arce has been dubbed the “Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village” by the New York Times and a “Champagne mogul” by Vogue. She is a restauranteur and owner of Air’s Champagne Parlor, Tokyo Record Bar, Niche Niche, and Special Club in New York. $39.95 rizzoliusa.com
Vodka À La Française
Here’s a vodka of a different sort. Guillotine starts out as a mix of white and black grapes —Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay—chosen from vineyards in the Aÿ-Champagne wine region. Grapes are handpicked, de-seeded, pressed, then fermented. Then the mix is slowly distilled in Guillotine’s 100-year-old facility, following traditional French expertise that preserve the subtleties of the fruit. They mix ancient methods and modern savoir-faire, to create an exceptionally well-rounded 80-proof vodka that is unexpectedly smooth and incomparably fresh. Guillotine Originale was recently awarded the gold medal at the 2019 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit competition. Also comes in a barrel-aged variety. Try the pretty cocktail (recipe below) to add festivity to your night.
1.25 oz Guillotine Heritage
.25 oz. sherry
Build in rocks glass, garnish with persimmon and mint leaves.
Madison Park PINK gin
For those who seek the unusual, a gin from Canada in a soft pink will add that extra element of surprise to a cocktail. The pink comes from wild hibiscus. Tasting Notes: Nose: Cotton candy, juniper berries, elderflower, pink grapefruit, a hint of allspice. Palate: Juniper berries, elderflower, soft notes of lavender and citrus, a zing of freshly cracked pepper with a long finish. Distiller notes: A floral-forward gin, distilled with juniper berries, lavender, coriander, elderflower, cubeb berries and grains of paradise. The cubeb berries lend citrusy notes. 1769distillery.com
Cocktail suggestion to play up the color:
Gently muddle 1/2 tsp sugar, a squeeze of lime and 2 large sliced strawberries.
Transfer to glass with ice, add 2 oz. Madison Park PINK gin, and top with a splash of club soda.
Garnish with a strawberry and sprig of mint.
Star Trek Cocktails Book
Inspired by all the Star Trek series, Star Trek Cocktails is the ultimate how-to for creating Trek-style drinks. The book is filled with engaging drink recipes, fun anecdotes, colorful illustrations and gorgeous sci-fi photography. Included on the menu: Jean-Luc’s Earl Grey Martini, the Borg Queen, a Ferengi Wallbanger, and the Mind-Meld, to name a few.
For those who love to collect, Star Trek Cocktails is the latest book from Hero Collector Books/Eaglemoss. The company is best known for its collectibles, particularly their Star Trek ship models, though they also offer products devoted to Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and other entertainment properties. amazon.com