Give the Gift of Booze: Six Bottles That Will Impress Your Friends

A.J. Rathbun
Springbank 10-Year Old Single Malt Scotch
Springbank 10-Year Old Single Malt Scotch

Is there a cocktail fanatic on your gift list this year, and one whose bar is already full of equipment? Then get them what they really wanta bottle bursting with an intriguing spirit or liqueur. The following six are chosen for their particular gift-ability. Heck, you can even pick one up as your gift for me.

Sparkle Donkey Tequila
Tequila gets a bad rap, even among drink aficionados, due to too many folks starting off with a bad tequila experience. If you know someone in this camp, change their view this season with Sparkle Donkey. Beyond having one of the better names, this tequila is sip-able, with a rich flavor (due to choice ingredients and a post-distilling oxygenation) and no cheap burn. It’s available in awarding-winner silver and reposado varieties and makes a wonderful Margarita. Also, don’t miss the Sparkle Donkey video (watch it below).

Sodo Spirits EvenStar Ginger Shochu
Say you’re shopping for that well-loved pal who always seems to get the scoop on the newest, rad-est, cocktail ingredients – that person who’s both awfully fun and a bit annoying. This year I suggest you pick them up a bottle of Seattle-made EvenStar Shochu. Shochu’s a super-popular Japanese spirit, light in both demeanor and alcohol content. EvenStar’s the only single-distilled shochu made in North America, and the ginger variety has a graceful trailing hint of ginger that make it ideal over ice or mixed into cocktails. 

Amrut Old Port Rum
My favorite drink right now is a hot buttered rum made with Amrut Old Port Rum. Spicy, sweet, warm and warming, if you want to ensure that certain someone stays warm this winter pick them up a bottle of this Indian-made rum. Then go over to their house and mix 2 ounces of the rum with 1/2 ounce simple syrup in a heatproof mug. Top that with 3 ounces of hot water, stir briefly, then top that with a pat of butter and a little fresh nutmeg (add a cinnamon stick, too, if inclined).  Oh, they also make the drink with this same delicious rum at the Rob Roy if you need a break from shopping.

Spy Hop Harvest Select Gin
If a gin enthusiast tops your list this year, then I suggest looking to the islands – specifically towards the San Juan Island Distillery, whose Spy Hop Select gin is made with island botanicals, many forged by the distillers, combined with traditional ingredients in a rare apple-derived base spirit. The result is layers of forest, floral, and citrus notes mingling with a delicate juniper-ness. It's also available in a giant half-gallon growler (as well as regular bottles) for those who really enjoy their gin.

Springbank 10-Year Old Single Malt Scotch
Everyone knows a dedicated Scotch drinker, whether it’s an admired uncle, my grandmother, or just that cutie in the next cubicle. Delivering them a bottle of Springbank (shown at top) not only show your good taste, but also that you’re ready to travel less worn paths for them, because this Scotch hasn’t been available here in Washington that long and isn’t a household name (though it tastes worthy enough to become one). It’s made with lightly-peated barley and a unique two-and-a-half-times distillation and tastes of fruit, spice, vanilla, oak, and Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula.

Campari Limited-Edition Ugo Nespolo
For the Italophiles and the aperitif and art lovers (who can sometimes be hard to buy for, unless you have a giant budget or your own airplane), watch for Campari’s limited-edition holiday art label bottles. Italian artist Ugo Nespolo has done a special reinterpretation of Leonetto Cappiello’s 1921 work Spiritello, and the piece is adorning bottles of the bitter, red, and beautiful drink for a short time. You’ll probably have to hunt a little to find it, but fine art, like finely made drinks, is worth tracking down.


The Legend of Sparkle Donkey from Black Rock Spirits on Vimeo.