We have a confession to make. Even though we’ve been waiting for Christmas to get here since Halloween, we aren’t ready for it. Like, at all.
Now don’t get us wrong — we’ve been swigging eggnog and going to Christmas parties and cranking Bing Crosby with the rest of them, but when the blur of Christmas parties started ending and we began wrapping up last minute travel plans, something terrible dawned on us: We have no clue what to buy our dad, brother or son, and if we ask the ladies in our life what to get, they just recommend a scarf or some other stupid shit that will make it look like the gift-giver A) didn’t really give a crap, and B) asked mom what to get.
Oh, and before anyone gets smart and says they’ll buy the latest video game or something, homeboy probably already has it, or didn’t want it so didn’t buy it.
But all is not lost: The Daily Caller has compiled a list of five Christmas presents that will make even the most callous bro in the family think we not only care, but know what we’re talking about. So let’s start at breakfast.
Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky
We’re going to start with Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky because that’s the bottle we’re fixing to start Christmas Day with.
Normally, when we hear something is from Canada and was originally made to celebrate a British king, we start warming up the tar and plucking the feathers, but with Crown Royal, we’ll make an exception because, well, it’s whisky.
See, whisky is the ultimate tool of diplomacy: We love to raise a glass with our friends and ladies, we deign to share a drink with our business partners, and we will even pour a glass for our enemies if we need to come to the table for something. It’s a drink that is crafted from America to Canada, Scotland to Ireland, England to Japan; and it is enjoyed everywhere in between. But normally, even we’ll admit it’s a drink best served after a long day’s work — but this stuff, we could pour on our pancakes.
Picture this: It’s early and our character was up late; the monsters he helped spawn are screaming and making a mess; all the thanks for the money and time he spent is going to a make-believe character; the dog is flipping out; the parents are in town and expecting him and the whole family dressed and at church; and it’s freezing outside and the driveway needs to be shoveled. But then something catches his eye: A velvet bag with gold string (yeah — it comes wrapped) swaddling a fancy-looking bottle of Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky. So, while the kids are busy chasing the dog around the tree, he cracks it open just to give it a smell.
On the nose, it’s clear that this isn’t your basic Crown Royal: There are strong hints of maple, toffee and caramel.
On the tongue, a dark burned caramel flavor with vanilla and a delicious maple-syrup tinge. At first, we thought it may be too sweet, but then the whiskey burn hits (it’s still 80 proof!) and all the cranking noise machines and Nerf darts flying past our head suddenly can’t ruin our mood.
Bottles run for about $25 and can be found at most good liquor stores. But what if that special whiskey-lover in mind doesn’t quite like it that sweet?
This is an idea with a personal touch:
The Best Damn Manhattan in Town
So here’s a little secret we’ve learned: Know how to bartend. Whether you’re out of a job, need to earn a few extra bucks, want to impress some friends or simply want to wow a lady, it’s a skill that comes in handy for every walk of life. And it also makes for a good gift. And as anyone (and everyone) in D.C. knows, knowing a little about a lot can be just as good as knowing a lot about a little, and a hell of a lot easier, so we’ll break down the recipe for the best damn Manhattan in town right here. But first, some context.
There are a couple of legends as to how the Manhattan cocktail first came about, but they all have to do with New York’s most famous borough and trace back to between the 1860s and ’70s. But while where it came from is disputed, where it now stands is not: The Manhattan bestrides Manhood Mountain, and to be seen with one in hand is to channel that awesome power.
So here’s what’s needed to give that awesome power, bottled for Christmas:
One 1-liter bottle of Evan Williams Black 86-Proof Straight Bourbon Whiskey
One 1-liter bottle of Vya Sweet Vermouth Appertif (This can be another sweet vermouth, but Vya really is the best)
One bottle of Angostura Aromatic Bitters
One bottle of cherries. (Usually, Maraschino, though feel free to go crazy)
With those ingredients gathered, the recipe is actually pretty easy: To make one Manhattan, add 2 oz. of whiskey, 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth, one dash of bitters, stir over ice, strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry. The oak and brown sugar noted in the whiskey pair beautifully with the blend of herbs, Tinta Roriz and Orange Muscat grapes in the vermouth, the bitters add a kick and the cherry looks snappy.
So to make a 1-liter gift, start by pouring 26 oz. of Evan Williams Black, 6.6 oz. of Vya Sweet and 13 dashes of Angostura Bitters into a pitcher to be stirred up (no ice). Then take a 1 liter bottle (like the Evan Williams one), remove the label (maybe some steam will help), wash it out, and pour your mixture back in. Boom. Give it with a jar of cherries, and the lucky guy or gal will be in heaven.
Bottles of Evan Williams can be purchased for about $20, as can bottles of Vya (though they are a bit harder to find). Bitters run around $10, but are important to have around the house anyway, and cherries won’t break the bank. All in all, a fair deal for a nice gift. But for those trying to class it up a bit and please the purist in their life, there’s always our next option:
Middleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey
Now, we’d hate to besmirch our proud Irish ancestors, but the fact is as far as taste goes, most Irish whiskeys lag far behind their American and Scottish counterparts. Then, as with most things, there are exceptions, and Middleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey is one of those exceptions. Seriously. Because Middleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey is one of the best things we have ever tasted.
Distilled in Middleton Distillery, County Cork, Ireland by John Jameson & Sons, Middleton was first released in 1984, and has since made quite a name for itself. Every year, a new and strictly limited blend is released.
On the nose, it is fresh and light, with notes of caramel, honey and mocha. And on the palate, a heavenly blend of butterscotch and vanilla, with a long finish that imparts a light and wonderful spicy.
Beautifully bottled, packaged in a handsome wooden box and running between $120 and $160, this is a bottle best reserved for dad.
But what if dad isn’t so much a whiskey drinker but, in a strange paradox, still likes nice things?
Samuel Adams’ Utopias 10th Anniversary
For the past decade, the gang at Sam Adams have released a new version of their extremely limited, very expensive, and truly groundbreaking beer, Utopias, every other year. So this year was cause for celebration. And for those lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle, there is special reason to celebrate.
Housed in a beautiful, black and gold, brew-kettle shaped, 24-oz. bottle, this brew is made with caramel and Munich malts; noble hops; and Champagne and ale yeasts. Its different, blended ingredients are aged in Buffalo Trace Bourbon casks, tawny port casks, Portuguese vintage ruby port casks and Nicuarguan rum casks.
So what does all of this taste like?
Well, before anyone runs out to buy it, be warned: It does not taste like beer.
On the nose, Samuel Adams Utopias smells like Chritmas pudding, with notes of strong, almost sour malt, espresso and a slight burn.
Yeah — at 29 percent alcohol, this stuff packs a wallop and is definitely for sipping.
On the tongue, Utopias is more like a port or a cognac. Tasting of figs and dark chocolate with a slight burn throughout and a little stinging sweetness, Utopias finishes with a slowly fading touch of Dr. Pepper.
A long haul from the breakfast whisky we began the day with, we’d suggest enjoying Utopias with some dark chocolate (Sam Adams actually makes some delicious chocolates), almonds and a dark cigar.
And, of course, it can be aged like a fine Cognac. But at a range of between $160 and $260, Utopias may be a bit steep. So for those looking for that perfect gift that won’t break the bank but still says they care and they know, look no further than our final suggestion:
Harpoon Brewery’s Harpoon IPA
As past readers may know, we love our India Pale Ales, and so does the rest of God-fearing America. Perfect for any part of the day in any season, they’re sure to excite the beer man on Christmas morning. But while most American breweries have an IPA, there are a number that stand out. And one of our favorites is Harpoon Brewery’s Harpoon IPA.
Established in 1986, this New England company has long maintained the go-to brew for seafood eaters and afternoon relaxers. Their beers can be found in liquor stores around the country.
Light caramel in color, Harpoon has a sharp nose with notes of lemon and tangerine. On the palate, it is crisp and refreshing; hoppy, with a seltzer-like carbonation that pops in the mouth. Though it gives a slight sting on the tip of the tongue, on the fade it leaves a yeasty finish.
And if all that doesn’t sound good enough, they were the unofficial beer of Scott Brown’s unsuccessful bid for re-election in November, dropping off cases to keep folks from getting parched on the trail and, in the end, offer some much-needed comfort.
At about $16 for a 12-pack, this is the most affordable on the list, but, like the rest, is sure to please the boozehound in our life.
So have a pint, and a very merry Christmas!