It may seem straightforward to buy a gift for someone who likes a drop of booze, but maybe they deserve better than a buy-one-get-one-free bottle of supermarket merlot. So spread some extra festive cheer this year with one of these magnificent treats…
1. Sipsmith Sloe Gin
We find that a bottle of home made sloe gin is one of the most well received presents going. But if you haven’t made any yourself (or have guzzled the lot already) then don’t worry – treat your friends to one of the finest sloe gins money can buy, courtesy of craft distillers of distinction Sipsmith. Using their own astonishingly good London Dry Gin as a base, this sloe infusion combines a lip smacking hit of sharp fruitiness with a super smooth, winter warming dose of boozy goodness. And unlike too many sloe gins, this one is notable for being not overly sweet.
Available from: www.sipsmith.com/our-spirits
2. Cocktail Christmas Cards
It’s all very well sending your pals a Christmas card featuring a robin chirping on a snow covered mailbox*, but other than being a vehicle for your pithy Christmas message, it’s of very limited use. We suggest you ditch the bird and send out these cards instead, rewarding your recipient with a work of art AND a cocktail recipe as well. Artist Crispin Finn has presented four festive cocktails to choose from – snowball, mulled wine, buck’s fizz and egg nog – each with some fascinating facts on the front and the full recipe on the reverse.
Available from: www.soma.gallery
Price: £2.50 per card or £12 for a set of 8
3. ‘Drinks by the Dram’ Handcrafted Crackers
Ensure that EVERYONE laughs along with your quips, jokes and dodgy impressions this Christmas by placing down one of these next to your guests festive dinner plate. Each cracker contains a 3cl measure of one of the following award winning spirits: Bathtub gin, Arran whisky, Rumbullion! spiced rum, sloe gin, Old Scout 7 year old bourbon and cherry brandy. You also get tasting notes, a posh paper hat and mandatory joke, but thankfully no toy – the sound of the family dog choking on a small plastic whistle can really put you off your turkey.
Available from: www.masterofmalt.com
4. Wilko Beer Kits
Know someone that has always talked about brewing their own beer but never quite got round to it? Then get them started with a beer kit. We reckon one of the best places for the uninitiated to track down their goods is high street retailer Wilko, who stock everything you need at very reasonable prices. Their ‘Hoppy Copper Bitter’ is a beginner’s bargain at £10 for a 40 pint kit (just add sugar and water), while we were particularly impressed with the ‘Golden Ale Kit’ which again makes 40 pints, needs only additional water, and sells for £22. Just make sure you find out when it’ll be ready and book yourself in for the night.
Available from: www.wilko.com
Prices from £10
5. The Bay Tree Mulled Wine Spices
One of the most pleasant of all Christmas aromas is the warm, spicy smell of booze gently mulling on the hob. Just one mug of mulled wine or cider is enough to provide a rosy glow of wellbeing and induce spontaneous, joyful chanting of ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’. Of course you, our festive readers, will be making your own unique blend of spices, but your friends and family may not be as confident when it comes to wielding a spice jar in the presence of alcohol. In which case may we recommend this tin containing five bundles of perfectly assembled mulling spices.
Available from: www.thebaytree.co.uk
6. Worley’s Cider
We’ve been raving about Neil Worley’s superior cider for years, but unless you lived in the deepest parts of Somerset you may have found it hard to come by. But now the secret is out, and it’s not just West Country drinkers who have caught on – thousands of bottles are making their way across the pond to the USA. We suggest you don’t allow the Americans to drink it all and grab yourself some bottles while you can – check out his website for the full range of ciders and drop him a line with your order.
Available from: www.worleyscider.co.uk/shop
Prices from £2.75 per bottle
7. Beer Bods Gift Subscription
There are several ‘beer clubs’ springing up on the internet providing delivery of specially selected craft beers. But the one we want for Christmas comes courtesy of Beer Bods. They simply send out one beer a week priced at £3 per bottle, including delivery, for a minimum of 12 weeks (£36). If you want to find out more about each week’s beer then you can log on to their website or follow them on twitter and hear what everyone else is saying about it. The quality of beers is high, with many hard to find brews among them, and they also have a gift subscription option making it the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.
Available from: www.beerbods.co.uk
Price: £36 for 12 weeks
8. ‘Brewing Britain’ by Andy Hamilton
Andy Hamilton is among the best home brew authors around and his latest book, Brewing Britain, is a typically thorough and enlightening piece of work. But you don’t have to be a home brewer to enjoy it. Andy travels the country looking for the perfect pint, discovers there are hundreds of perfect pints out there, and describes them all in a lighthearted manner, revealing tales from the brewers and insight into the ingredients. And if you are a home brewer then you’ll also find instructions on how to brew your own versions of the UKs best beers.
Available from: preferably your local bookshop, if not try amazon
Price: RRP £12.99
9. Cardhu Gold Reserve whisky
If you know someone who likes whisky then we promise they will never tire of receiving the gift of liquid gold. This year our whisky swilling chums will be doffing their tam o shanters in gratitude to the Cardhu distillery for their exceptional new release ‘gold reserve’. It’s a typically sweet and light Speyside whisky which also teases the tongue with some warming fruity and spicy notes. More than enough to satisfy whisky fans of any vintage.
Available from: www.alexanderandjames.com
*Ever wondered why robins appear on Christmas cards? Apparently, in times gone by, posties wore red tunics as part of their uniform, giving them the nickname ‘robin redbreasts’. As a change from showing images of Santa hauling Christmas trinkets across a starry sky, card designers hit upon the alternative idea of depicting actual red breasted robins performing the card delivering task. Usually with their beaks, one at a time (no wonder the festive post is so often late). Thus the robin became yet another recognisable symbol of Christmas.
Note: we asked all the suppliers for review product, except Andy’s book (which we owned already) and Beer Bods subscription, in order to check they were all of sufficient quality for our recommendation.