It can be risky to give a bottle of booze as a gift, as it may not always be to the recipient's tastes. On the other hand, some liquors are easy to re-gift, or better yet, used for holiday parties. Here's five of the more seasonal:
5. Jameson Irish Whiskey This blend is already on the Top 5 list of the most-shoplifted items during the holidays. According to Adweek magazine, Jameson is second only to filet mignon for shoving down the pants in December. Perhaps that would make Jameson the perfect gift for crooks who like to brood during the holidays, but there's more to it.
My parents always put on huge Christmas parties, and Jameson was always the first empty bottle. The whiskey is blended to be balanced and unremarkable, vanilla or chocolate notes perhaps, no dominate taste or much of a finish. It's easy to drink and mixes well. Ultimately, there's no good explanation why this is the Whiskey of Christmas. It just is, and at $25, slightly more thoughtful than a Starbucks card.
4. Izkali Reposado Tequila This spirit was released this year by Stafford-based couple Ignacio and Nydia Flores, with intentions of introducing young drinkers to the pleasure of sipping reposado. They were dreaming, of course, as young people rarely sip tequila.
The cold, hard reality is that Izkali Reposado is a premier mixer, winning awards for Palomas, and also serving up a top-flight Margarita. It's $33, but unlike whiskey, cheap tequila is rarely a good idea.
If you're not thinking gift, but rather a unique holiday party drink, then introduce the Izkali Anejo "Frostbite." It's like an Alexander with a spicy zing, which even tequila-loathers may enjoy.
3. Dark Sipping Rum "Come, they told me, rum-pum-pum-pum." There's no bottle of Rum Pumpum in the stores, but Ron Pampero sounds a lot like it, and this Venezuelan rum is a smooth Cognac-like sipper that already comes in a fancy-pants leather gift bag. $28.
Or, if your friends can't get away for a Caribbean vacation these holidays, bring the tropics to them with Mt. Gay Extra Old, a premier sipping rum from Barbados. Not cheap, at around $43.
2. Campari Few people enjoy their first taste of Campari, but second impressions are everything here. The Negroni, with gin, Campari, and Italian sweet vermouth, is a perfect blend of bitter, herbal and sweet to replace the fruitcake you're never going to touch.
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1. Cognac The cliché is Cognac in snifters, sitting by an open fire. If you think Houstonians don't build fires, then what's up with those stacks of firewood outside Randall's? Forget the snifters, just any glass and someone cozy will do. All advertised brands are good, but it's hard to go wrong with the elegant blackness of Rémy Martin V.S.O.P., about $35.
And don't forget to pick up a bottle for yourself. Happy Holidays.