The 2021 GSN Holiday Gift Guide

It’s time once again to share our gift suggestions for the holidays! This year we have even more spirited suggestions for everyone on your list, whether they enjoy beer, cider, spirits, wine, or coffee, tea, or non-alcoholic beverages. Cheers!

BOXED SETS

Heritage Distilling Co. Spirits Advent Calendar The only US craft distillery produced Spirits Advent Calendar features 24 – 50ML bottles of HDC’s award winning spirits including vodkas, gins, whiskeys and rum. Starting December 1, countdown to Christmas by popping open the square for the day and seeing what is inside. Each calendar the products are randomly placed so you’ll be truly surprised and delighted each day of December.

Adagio Teas: Twelve Teas of Christmas This holiday season give the gift that keeps on giving: our 12 Days of Christmas Gift Set! This jolly collection contains a selection of our most festive blends, one for each of the 12 Days of Christmas. The reusable tins line up to create a fun scene and can hang as ornaments until ready to be brewed. Each tin contains one single serving pouch of loose tea.

Drinks by the Dram: Tequila & Mezcal Collection If you’re struggling to pick out a cracking gift for an agave fan, we have something to help you. It’s the 12 Dram Tequila & Mezcal Collection! This beautiful box contains 12 different 30ml wax-sealed drams of tequila and mezcal from some excellent producers, sure to please even the most picky of agave lovers.

BEER CLUB

Brewvana Brews Less Traveled Beer Club Not only do you get some eclectic brews and cool local swag, but you also get to virtually hear from the brewmasters while you sample their wares. It doesn’t get any better than this, outside of taking a road trip. And a subscription is a lot less expensive than gas, tolls and lodging. 

 

BOOKS

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails Compiled by world authority David Wondrich, with the assistance of a team of experts from around the globe, The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails provides an authoritative, enlightening and entertaining overview of this third branch of the alcohol family.

Tiki Triangle Why another tiki book? Because this one puts recipes and history into a chronological perspective. Author Cristaldi shares some personal history with the culture before giving a brief and informative lesson on rum itself, along with some cocktails pre-1933, which is considered to be the birth year of the genre. 

CBD & VAPING

Precision Botanical CBD Precision Botanical products come from its own Oregon hemp farm and uses a commercial-level proprietary extraction of hemp oil that’s in the patent process. All products are third-party audited and certified for potency and purity.

Vessel Eclipse Vape Kit This is a beautifully made and classy set that is perfect for traveling or a day out. What we especially like is the compact and easy to carry case which is designed specifically for the three pieces. Vessel has been in business for nearly three years and have several smoking related products available.

CIDER LOVERS

Austin Eastciders Imperial Cider A quite dry, powerhouse of a cider. We like it. Fruity, almost rustic in flavor, and eminently quaffable. With such a high alcohol content, you’ll want to take your time with one to truly enjoy it. We especially like this one paired with a meal. Try this with a pork stew, or mushroom quiche. For a lighter table, craft a cheese board using aged cheddar, brie and camembert. 

 

COFFEE LOVERS

Fire Dept. Coffee Their signature spirit-infusion process expertly combines the flavors of bourbon, whiskey, rum, or tequila with the best coffee beans, ensuring you the perfect cup of infused coffee every time. Whether you’re sitting at your desk, dropping the kids at school, or looking for an afternoon pick me up, Fire Department Coffee’s Spirit Infused Coffee is the perfect choice.

 

LGTBQ+

Tom of Finland Organic Vodka Tom of Finland Organic Vodka is crafted in Finland from organically grown wheat, rye and arctic water. A percentage of profit from each bottle will be donated to the Tom of Finland Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Tom of Finland and Durk Dehner and dedicated to promoting tolerant attitudes towards sexuality and the preservation of erotic art. 

 

MIXERS

Juke Cordialities Jukes 1 is definitely more akin to a sweet white style wine, let’s say a Sauternes or perhaps a Riesling. Jukes 6 is still sweet, but has a fuller flavor of dark berries and fruits. It’s closest in style to a table red or even a Port. Both are well made, and we particularly like the fact that they can be diluted to your own chosen strength. We recommend these for anyone who is looking to cut back on their alcohol consumption, as well as those who are interested in a healthier and lower calorie alternative to fruit juices and sodas. 

Twisted Alchemy Cold Pressed Juice The juices have a fresh quality to them, and are miles above and beyond anything canned or even massed produced in plastic containers. We love the fact that these juices will last for several months (not days or weeks), thus cutting down on wasted from unusable product. Plus, they definitely save labor behind the bar.

RTD (Ready to drink) COCKTAILS

DRNXMYTH Cocktails After reviewing dozens of RTD’s, we can honestly say that DRNXMYTH has cornered the market on freshness. The bottle design is clever and adds a sense of elegance that adds to the experience. As any decent bartender knows, balance is key, and the cocktails we received are all excellent. Outside of going to a bar, these are the best ready to drink cocktails you will find on the market.

 

STOCKING STUFFER

Puffin Drinkware These are the coolest koozies we’ve ever seen. And they work! We especially like the handles which add a fun grip when toasting. We’ve only shown a few styles here, but there are many more to choose from. We recommend these as great stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays. Especially since they are so affordable. 

 

WATER BOTTLES

Philips GoZero Hydration Bottle What we like about this new water bottle is that it is metal, has a rubber carrying handle, holds hot or cold liquids, has a smooth drinking rim, and best of all, it self sanitizes and purifies itself on a regular basis. We can actually taste the difference in the water afterwards. It seems purer, fresher and near to spring water. Really, this is everything we could ask for in a water bottle whether we’re behind the stick, at home, or in the great outdoors. 

 

WINE LOVERS

Ficklin Vineyards Old Vine Tinta Port This truly is a remarkable and delicious port. What makes it even more extraordinary is that it comes from old vine Portuguese varietals. A smooth, raisin-like character hits upon the entry, and then immediately opens up into a world of masterful oak aging. The body is fulsome, with a near viscous mouthfeel that is often lacking in ports. But, it’s the overall flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

GSN Review: Cask & Kettle Hot Coffee Cocktails

Cask & Kettle is the only Keurig-style pod alcoholic coffee cocktail on the market making it a simple one step process. Pop a single serve cup into your brewing system or pour hot water to a mug and add the contents of a pod and stir. Flavors include Irish Coffee, Mint Patty, Mexican Coffee, and Hot Blonde Coffee. They also make a Spiked Dry Cider, which we were not sent for review.
 
Cask & Kettle is Woman-owned and operated, and certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise. The spirits are distilled in Temperance, Michigan. (Oh, the irony!) Best of all, all of the cocktails are decaffeinated, gluten-free and the pods are made with 100% recyclable material.

Irish Coffee – GSN’s Remarks: Vodka and Irish Whiskey. This actually works to its advantage, toning down the sweet, malty notes of the whiskey. Of the four, this is our favorite. GSN Rating: B+

Mint Patty – GSN’s Remarks: We were expecting a heavy mint flavor, but happily that wasn’t the case. This is just right, with a mild mintiness that doesn’t overwhelm the coffee. GSN Rating: B

Mexican Coffee – GSN’s Remarks: This one has vodka and tequila. The tequila flavor is mild, but noticable. It does work. GSN Rating: B

Hot Blonde Coffee – GSN’s Remarks: A straightforward coffee with vodka. The flavor is good and natural. GSN Rating: B

Overall, these are an easy and quick way to make some boozy, after dinner coffee libations. What we appreciate about these is that you don’t need a machine to use them. Plus, it saves having to buy bottles of vodka, tequila, Irish whiskey and cart them around if you are camping. 

For more information go to: Cask and Kettle USA

GSN Review: Fire Dept. Vanilla Bean Bourbon Coffee

We were recently sent a bag of whole beans of a new blend from Fire Dept. Coffee, Vanilla Bean Bourbon. Fire Dept. Coffee is a veteran-owned business and certified by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), we’re dedicated to providing great-tasting coffee to people everywhere. Every order is freshly roasted in Rockford, Illinois, by a dedicated team of firefighters, first responders, and coffee connoisseurs.

GSN has previously reviewed several of Fire Dept.’s Spirited Coffees here.

GSN’s Thoughts: We really love this new coffee. The vanilla bean brings it over the top into an entirely dessert-like realm. The bourbon adds a flavorful kick. This just may be our new favorite morning beverage! Make sure to order a few bags since this is a limited edition for the time being. GSN Rating: A

To order go to: Fire Dept Coffee

You can also join the new Spirit-Infused Club here

GSN Alert: Mugs by Day, Pint Glasses by Night

Morning runs to the coffee shop and happy hour cocktails at the bar have been halted for more than two months now. We wanted to know how this impacts in-home brewing and mixology. Influence Central surveyed 630 consumers in May as part of an effort to understand the consumer mindset during COVID-19.

CHEERS TO THE QUARANTINI 

Alcohol has always been a part of restaurant profitability and social culture in the U.S. With varied rules around alcohol sales and delivery state-to-state, alcohol brands have found themselves in an interesting spot. Some creative brands like Grey Goose, have hired out-of-work bartenders to become online mixologists for home-drinking cocktail makers.

  • Only 26% of consumers share that they’re consuming even more alcoholic beverages at home now than they were before. But drinks abound even if at typical consumption levels.
  • Among all consumers when it comes to drinking choices, wine tops the list of drink choices, with cocktails and beer rounding up the top three:
    • 43% turn to red wine
    • 38% prefer white wine
    • 37% are mixing up cocktails, while 18% prefer hard alcohol straight up or on the rocks.
    • 31% drink beer
    • 14% love hard seltzer
    • 13% like hard cider
  • 94% have not utilized any of the home delivery services for alcoholic beverages yet and are still going in-store for their alcohol purchases.
  • Of those who are utilizing home delivery services for alcoholic beverages, 65% have only just recently started turning to these services. 

Marketers of alcohol brands and services should be pouring themselves into these findings and capitalizing on a market that hasn’t quite taken off. The momentum of Online Grocery Pick-up can be an example to both national alcohol brands, as well as local businesses, including the rapidly growing craft beer industry.

A HIGHLY CAFFEINATED HOME-BREWED NATION

Home brewed coffee abounds during COVID-19. The number of movies, TV shows and memes that portray the morning hustle and hurry-up mentality of American culture is staggering. So, it’s not surprising that the line at your Starbucks’ or McDonald’s Drive-thru was long or that office coffee stations were as common as copy machines. But what happens when consumers’ to-do lists are still expansive, with increased reliance on caffeine increased to battle long unremitting, but you’re home most mornings? Well, it turns out that it’s coffee that happens:

  • 89% of consumers have at least one person in their household who now drinks coffee at home.
  • 56% brew more pots and cups of coffee at home than before social distancing, generally brewing 2 or more times each day.
  • When asked what they are using to brew coffee, 66% purchase ground coffee, 49% use K-Cups and 20% grind coffee beans.
  • Among the different types of coffee brands being purchased for home:
    • 50% opt for well-known chain coffee shop brands (such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Caribou).
    • 46% preferring well-known grocery store brands (such as Folgers or Maxwell House).
    • 29% choose other specialty coffee brands.
    • 24% opt for generic supermarket house brand.
  • 42% had typically brewed coffee at the office prior to the shift to stay-at-home.
  • 71% purchase creamers or other additives specifically for coffee.

People clearly still want their daily pick-me-ups of caffeine during the pandemic, creating a swath of opportunities for coffee brands and coffee appliances alike. Plus, it’s opened the door to new coffee drinks, such as the hugely popular and trending “Dalgona” whipped coffee made with instant coffee whipped with sugar and water, then poured over milk. Clearly, home baristas have arrived!

Stacy DeBroff is a Social and digital media strategist, best-selling author, attorney, and founder and CEO of Influence Central, which delivers cutting-edge social media and digital campaigns focused on influencer marketing.

 

GSN Review: Mad Bean Iced Coffee

Mad Bean hard coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans. In a typical cup of coffee, there is around 95 mg of caffeine. Mad Bean has 1/3 the amount of caffeine as a regular cup! Enjoy a nice hard iced coffee pick me up without the jitters. It is made with a stabilized and pasteurized cream that does not require refrigeration.

Mad Bean’s process of proprietary filtration creates a malt base giving their products a natural spirit like finish. This multi-stage filtration process naturally removes gluten from the malt base. Even after this rigorous filtration process, there may contain some trace levels of gluten.

Mad Bean Iced Coffee (4.5% ABV)
GSN’s Thoughts: What we especially enjoyed about these is the low caffeine/low alcohol content, making them perfect for an after dinner beverage. These are also great to throw in your backpack for camping. The Mocha Iced is less sweet than the vanilla (to be expected), but neither one is overly sweet. The flavor was even and natural, with just a hint of the malt liquor. These are handy, tasty and well packaged for travel.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Drink Mad Bean