Christmas drinks: best alcohol gifts for Christmas


<p>Christmas drinks: best alcohol gifts, including spirits and wines</p>
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Christmas drinks: best alcohol gifts, including spirits and wines

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For many of us, Christmas is a time to enjoy a handsome tipple or two. Some of us will be restocking our drinks cabinets in anticipation of a wee dram on a winter’s evening, or looking to ensure we have lovely bottles on hand to gift to those we love. But while a handy bottle of Bailey’s may never go astray – called, as it is by some, Christmas milk (£21 at Tesco’s just now), sometimes you’re after something a little more special. Be it for you – wanting to ring in the festive season with a new drop of splosh – or as a present – this is the time to indulge in a different drink.

We’ve got you. From spectacular rums, to wines to lift the mood of even the weariest soul, to smoky bourbon – here are the Christmas spirits that will truly make you feel jolly. Of course – enjoy them responsibly, please.

Oh – and a note. You may be tempted to buy a whiskey lover ‘whisky stones’ – stones that go into the freezer, allowing drinkers to cool their dram without diluting it. In our not inconsiderable experience, this is a poor idea. Nobody we know who is an avid whiskey fan uses the whiskey stones they have been gifted – and most of them have been gifted several sets. Maybe this is anathema but we’d avoid them as a purchase unless you enjoy seeing your gift head straight to a charity shop.

An intriguing little number, ideal, we found, for building cocktails – especially a Daiquiri or Mary Pickford.

Tidal Rum is manufactured in Jersey, though it’s built from a blend of rums distilled in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic. If that makes it sound busy, well, you may be a blend-snob (no shame: we all have our preferences). For our money, we found this tipple to be super smooth with a ticklish saline finish which really comes through in mixed drinks. It’s suffused with “oak-smoked pepper dulse seaweed foraged from the tides of Jersey” which, in layman’s terms, just makes it a touch smoky on the back of the palate.

So, grab your Tidal, some limes, and some sugar, channel your inner Hemingway and fix a Daiquiri (though he omitted the sugar – Papa Doble was diabetic) for a Merry Christmas indeed.

Just remember the sage words of Charles H Baker in the superlative Gentleman’s Companionand go easy on the sugar: “a too sweet Daiquiri is like a lovely lady with too much perfume”.

“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.”

Thus spoke John Maynard Keynes, perhaps hoping his economic theory that the government should intervene when public demand for a commodity drops extended to a gubernatorial Fizz Stimulus Package. For our part, we intend on not sharing Keynes’ regret.

Champagne Piaff Brut, then, provides an excellent option for quaffing at Christmas. Yes, the price tag is one at odds with a cost of living crisis. If you need a more affordable bubbly, we have a gallery of sub £35 drops – or hit up a cremant, which is made according to méthode champenoise but without the price tag that comes from being from the Champagne region.

But the Piaff – yes, it’s worth your pounds, and attention. A blend of 30% Pinot Meunier, 35% Pinot Noir & 35% Chardonnay, it has a creamy, frothy mousse, suitably decadent for celebrations. There’s a hint of vanilla brioche and light notes of apple and pear, just a touch of lemon-y acidity. It slides down like an ill-judged metaphor. Sets one in a delightfully carefree mood. We love it.

Between Boris Johnson’s ceaseless lying and Liz Truss’ frankly almost impressive ability to self-immolate in less time that it takes for a banana to turn, England didn’t cover itself in glory this year – its global standing is not too high. We posit, however, if enough people could pour some Nyetimber Classic Cuvee (crafted in the South of England) down their gullets, the world would once again realize the majesty the tiny nation is capable of.

Forget any antiquated notions about the English not being able to produce wine: we prefer this sparkling delight, made from champagne grapes, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, to Bollinger – and we’re awful fond of bolly.

Crafted in the méthode champenoise, it starts with a bright flash of acidity – as Aldous Huxley put it, “like an apple peeled with a steel knife”. But that sharp opening softens to a ripe, lingering taste, at once intense and delicate, ideal for if you are planning on idling your way through multiple bottles.

Forget Shakespeare – this is one of England’s greatest contributions to the world.

Richard Godwin (whose book, The Spirits, is the single most enjoyable mixology book on the market – it can be read like a novel. One that will get you thoroughly, delectably, hammered) calls gin “London’s great contribution to regret.”

While we’re tickled by Godwin’s characteristic droll patter, we would also argue that you will never regret fixing yourself a G&T using Inverroche as your G – though perhaps that’s because it’s manufactured in South Africa.

Inverroche Classic Gin may have been crafted to satisfy our desire for a tipple that is ideally balanced – not boring, just clean and smooth. With a piney juniper and earthy botanical underpinning, a hint of citrus lifts this easy to drink gin, a pleasingly floral, crisp drink when supped neat.

As we said, we adore this in a G&T – it sings of that bright citrus splash, a judicious degree of juniper, and a little bit of spice (cardamom and cassia) to add depth. Delicate but not dull. Highly recommended.

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