GSN Annual Holiday Gift Guide 2014 Edition

santa-napkinTime for our first annual round-up of the best gifts you can give your spirited friends and family this holiday season!  Cheers!

Booze

20130513_203300_13684735807Caffe Borghetti If I weren’t already a french-press coffee drinker, I’d switch to Caffe Borghetti every morning.  This is like fresh brewed boozy espresso.  Highly recommended!

kringle_cream_bowKringle Cream Liqueur Kringle has a dairy-fresh flavor that takes me back to childhood.  Like a butterscotch and maple cream flavored dessert.  I’d gladly drink this over eating a Danish, any day.

125th_Front_SMBLEFour Roses 125th Anniversary Bourbon  This is a world-class bourbon that exemplifies the art of distilling and blending.  Well worth seeking out to “cellar”.  Kudos to Master Distiller Jim Rutledge for this engaging beauty!

indexOld English Gin  Really well done and a testament to the historical recipes of the 1700’s.  It’s no wonder that Britains went mad for this style of gin.

Tindexhe BenRiach Authenticus 25 Year Old Peated Single Malt  Sweet, smokey, salty, tannic, grainy, malty, saline, spiced and fruity.  Yet throughout all of this, there is a total cohesiveness.  A killer whisky that defies tradition.

indexBaker’s Bourbon  This is like pure bourbon candy.  I’ve been sipping it for a few weeks every now and then, and I am still impressed.

indexTres Agaves Silver Tequila  Summer in a glass.  This is the kind of tequila you want to take home and introduce to your mother.

indexRedbreast 21-Year-Old Whiskey  They’ve done it again.  The Midleton Distillers have set the bar for Irish whiskies beyond anything else on the market.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that it retails for $200+ a bottle, I would gladly make this my daily nightcap.

indexRhum Clement Select Barrel  So good, you’ll be saddened when the bottle is empty.  Absolutely one of the finest rhums I’ve ever had.

indexCitadelle Reserve Solera 2013 Gin  The mouthfeel is amazing and there is a lot of body to this gin that is unlike either the Plymouth style or Dutch genever.  Just outstanding.  This will make any cocktail wake up!

indexBarrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur  One of the best liqueurs I’ve had in a while.  Not only does it taste homemade, but it has a tropical/Asian sensibility that makes it indispensable for use in tropical based cocktails.

indexSelvarey Cacao Rum  Many flavored rums tend to extremes.  This one in no way can be improved upon.  A true artisanal rum that everyone should try at least once in their life.

indexIlegal Mezcal  This is a lovely mezcal that excels at everything.  Flavor, balance, distillation, mouthfeel, you name it.  Mezcal lovers seek this one out!

indexKavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength Whisky  Wow.  Just killer.  One of the finest bourbon barrel-aged whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.

indexKavalan Solist Vinho Cask Strength Whisky  A killer whisky that shouldn’t work as well as it does.  I was amazed from the get-go at how well the flavor of the wine meshes with whisky.

Partida Anejo - Hi ResPartida Anejo Tequila  Absolutely beautiful.  An amazing tequila that will enhance a traditional Mexican meal.  If I had to choose a tequila to celebrate the spirit of Mexican distillation, this would be it.

indexThe Hakashu Single Malt Heavily Peated Whiskey  Possibly the finest Japanese peated whisky on the planet.  If you can find a bottle, buy it immediately and only share with your closest friends and loved ones.

indexBasil Hayden’s Bourbon  My current favorite bourbon for sipping straight, this also is absolutely amazing in Manhattans, Sazeracs and even Old Fashioneds.

indexAnchor Old Tom Gin  This gin is everything is should be and nothing it shouldn’t be.  Fantastic in a simple highball, but also with enough depth of character to shine in complex gin based cocktails.

indexAuchentoshan American Oak Whisky  This is a spirit to convert non-Scotch lovers to the wonderful world of Scotch.  If you are already a Scotchophile, this is one to keep within hand’s reach when arriving home after a bitterly cold winter’s day.

1413301533807Awestruck Lavender Hops Cider  Each sip surprises the palate and engages the mind to really reflect on what you’re drinking.  Very clever, creative and a real winner among ciders!

Books

20131001_102455_138330149557Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry (Cocktail Kingdom)  Literally every page is dripping with amazing discoveries, photographs and recipes that you will find it hard to put down.  It’s almost as if you are watching the history of what are collectively known as “tiki drinks” unfold in a “Mad Men” type way.

index17The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level by Dinah Sanders (Sanders & Gratz)  Where has this book been all my life?  For those of us who love to sample as many cocktails as we can when visiting a new bar, unfortunately there comes a point where the alcohol wins.

51un7zkafil-_aa160_The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Chronicle Books)  You may want to invest in some quality bottles if you really get serious, but it’s also just plain fun to realize that cocktails can be more than the sum of store-bought ingredients.  Cocktails ultimately can be infused with a part of yourself.

41jritnrd7l-_aa160_Death & Co. Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald & Alex Day (Ten Speed Press)  Out of the hundreds of cocktail guides out there, this one more than any other makes you feel like you are right there working with the bartenders from opening to last call.

Bitters

indexBob’s Chocolate Bitters  Honestly, a minute after tasting these, I’d swear I just ate some chocolate.  Nicely done.

indexBob’s Ginger Bitters  Even if you weren’t to use these in a cocktail, they would be a great digestion aid in tea.  Really tasty too.

Barware

jackson-cannon-bar-knife-256px-256pxJackson Cannon Bar Knife  I honestly have not used a better knife at the bar, though I’ve tried many others over the years.  This is a sure winner that will become a cherished part of your routine behind the stick.

GSN Review: Jackson Cannon Bar Knife

jackson-cannon-bar-knife-256px-256pxOne thing that chefs and quality bartenders have in common is the search for a practical and at the same time, aesthetically beautiful knife.  When you use a tool every day for prep work and making garnishes, you want it to have all the features you will need. It was with this ideal that Jackson Cannon of Boston’s trio of excellent bars Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne set out to perfect the bar knife.  He sought out a Bostonian couple, Mimi Younkins & Mark Furman from R. Murphy Knives who are only the fourth owners of the company since it was established back in 1850 to help craft the tool.

The design is simple, yet elegant with a high carbon stainless steel blade couched in a cocobolo hardwood handle held in place by a threesome of brass rivets.  It is a joy to hold in the hand and is contoured in an ergonomically friendly way.  The first thing you’ll notice about the design, is the unusual flattened end.  This proved to be quite helpful in removing citrus seeds from fruit and notching lemon and orange wheels.  The other design feature is a totally flush side opposite the blade.  This makes it super easy to quickly scrape any residual fruit or vegetable matter from your workstation.  Brilliant!

I honestly have not used a better knife at the bar, though I’ve tried many others over the years.  This is a sure winner that will become a cherished part of your routine behind the stick.

GSN Rating: A++

For more information go to: R. Murphy Knives