Under the Radar’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: The Drinker’s Guide | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Under the Radar’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: The Drinker’s Guide

Boozy gifts to enjoy by the fire

Nov 26, 2021 Bookmark and Share

The holidays are here, and with them comes Under the Radar’s annual holiday gift guide—where we share our gift suggestions in a broad range of categories. Earlier this week we looked at some of the best new offerings in tabletop gaming. Later we’ll be exploring gift-able vinyl, boxed sets, Blu-rays, collectibles and toys, video games, and more. Today, we’re unveiling our Drinker’s Gift Guide.

We know there are many of you out there who’d appreciate unwinding after all of the holiday hub-bub with a homemade cocktail or a nice glass of wine. If that’s not you, then you probably know someone who would. That’s why we’re running down some of our favorite beer, wine, and cocktail-themed gifts for the 2021 holiday season. This year we’re also trying something new, and including a category specifically for tailgate parties, camping trips, or any other situation where you’d hang out by a warm fire while sipping a cold drink.

Please note that because alcohol prices vary greatly by region, some of the SRPs we’re including are approximate—you might find slightly higher or lower prices if bottles are available in your area.

Let’s get to it!

That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar (Drinks by the Dram)

SRP: ~$80

As kids, advent calendars were always our favorite way to count down the days of the holiday season. There’s something about punching open a little door each day to find a special treat inside which somehow managed to both build our anticipation for Christmas, but also temper our expectations—it was okay for Christmas to still be twenty days away when that meant we had twenty days of chocolate ahead of us.

The thing is, we’re adults now. We’re not going to get (as) excited for stale, chalky-flavored chocolates pressed into the shape of snowmen anymore. We’re grown-ups, and we have grown-up tastes. That’s why Drinks by the Dram’s boozy advent calendars have us giddy for December to start, year after year. Because as adults, what’s more likely to get us in the holiday “spirits”—see what we did there?—than 30ml of a new, fine craft liquor each day?

Drinks by the Dram offers their advent calendars in many different varieties to suit your giftee’s drink of choice, but the one we jumped at trying this year is their collaboration with That Boutique-y Gin Company, which includes 24 of their gins in a variety of flavors ranging from familiar to wild. Without spoiling the order, some of the gin flavors included in the box are Chocolate Orange, Spit-Roasted Pineapple, Mojito, Honey-Pomelo, Smoked Rosemary, Rhubarb, and a holiday-themed bottle appropriately named “GINgle All the Way.” As someone whose gin palate isn’t as traveled as my palate for whiskeys or rums, it’s not only a fun, nightly tradition to mark down the days to the holiday—but a good learning experience as to what gins can be.

If this sounds as fun to you as it was to us, check out Drinks by the Dram’s 2021 calendar varieties for all of their boozy adventures on offer. (More information.)

Chufly Imports’ Social Impact Wine Packs

SRP: $85.99 for Curated Case of 3 Bold Red Bottles

Chufly was founded in 2014 by Tealye Long and Ramon Escobar, world travelers who discovered Bolivia’s wine-making regions and saw an opportunity to not only bring the nation’s fine wines to vinophiles around the globe, but help make a difference for the people who make them. Chufly is even more rigorously curated than your average wine club—the team visits every winery that supplies their subscriptions, making sure the product is as delicious as any connoisseur could expect. If you’ve yet to taste Bolivian wines, Chufly can guarantee you’re starting with some of the best bottles the South American country has to offer.

Chufly offers buying options in many varieties and bottle counts. There are curated cases of three or more bottles of Bold or Crushable Reds, Whites, Cab Savs, or mixed varieties. If you’re interested in going on a longer journey, there are subscriptions that make monthly deliveries of your favorite styles. Given how they help small, family-owned wineries reach an international market, Chufly gives subscribers an opportunity to keep their wine rack stocked in a socially conscious manner. (Buy it here.)

Whiskey Shots Box

SRP: $89.99

With the Whiskey Shots Box, you can help the aficionado in your life discover their next favorite bottle: this is essentially a fancy whiskey tasting in a box. Inside each are ten hand-selected sampler bottles of American whiskeys, each enough to fill the Glencairn tasting glass included in the package with them. My favorite touch—besides the whiskeys, obviously—was the tasting journal, which walks the lucky drinker step-by-step through how to record the whiskey’s flavor, color, aroma, mouthfeel, complexity and finish, so that they can keep track of what they drank, and can easily find it again later if they so choose. This is a really, really cool addition to the package – as it not only introduces them to new brands of whiskey, but can help many imbibers become more conscious of what they’re tasting in their whiskey. Let’s put it this way: I’m no whiskey expert, but I certainly felt like one while recording notes in my tasting journal, and it’s made me think more about the bourbons I’ve enjoyed since. How many gifts can someone both learn from, and get a delightful buzz?

The best part? If they love a particular whiskey, they can order a full-sized bottle through ShotsBox.com. Those who don’t want the tasting journey to end should check out their Whiskey Club, and if whiskey’s not their thing, Shots Box also offers boxes of tequilas, gins, vodkas, and other spirits. Be sure to peruse their full line. (Buy it here.)

Rampur Double Cask - Indian Single Malt Whisky

SRP: ~$80

Whiskey aficionados are notoriously difficult to buy for. These aren’t the folks who keep a constant stock of their three-to-four favorite bottles: these are the ones who can be described as collectors. These people have entire cabinets full of their favorite bourbons or scotches, and usually an overflow of dusty bottles in the closet or basement. When they see something new and interesting at the store, they’ll bring it home. These are usually the nice folks who invite you to their table and pour you glass after glass—they tend to enjoy sharing and discussing their finds as much as drinking it themselves.

What do you buy the whiskey drinker who’s already tried everything? Well, unless they’ve already found themselves a bottle of Rampur, chances are unlikely that they have an Indian whisky in their collection. One of their latest varieties is the Double Cask, a 90-proof single malt made in the foothills of the Himalayas. The double casks referred to in its name are American bourbon barrels and European sherry barrels: the resulting drink is very oaky and vanilla-forward, with a warming burn that gives way to delicate, fruitlike flavors as you get deeper into your glass. This isn’t a whisky anyone will be throwing back, but a complex and flavorful sipper that will give even the most jaded connoisseurs something to ruminate over. (More information.)

Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey

SRP: ~$45

Occasionally you’ll come across a bottle of whiskey where the story behind it is as good as the liquid contents inside. Uncle Nearest is one of those bottles. The brand is named for Nathan “Nearest” Green, the “Godfather” of Tennessee Whiskey. When you think of that variety, Jack Daniel’s is usually the first label to come to mind—but Green, a former slave, was that company’s first master distiller, and the man who taught Jack Daniel himself how to make whiskey. Nearly one and a half centuries later, the Uncle Nearest brand was created to help preserve Green’s legacy—and is even curated by several of Green’s fifth generation descendants.

Their 1884 Small Batch Whiskey is blended from barrels that were aged for at least seven years. It pours a light color, and goes down with a smooth, warming flavor that’s rich in vanilla. It’s a very well-made, classic-tasting American whiskey, and worth drinking straight over a few cubes of ice. (Buy it here.)

Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin

SRP: ~$40

From the same makers as the Rampur Indian Whisky we recommended above comes Jaisalmer Craft Gin, a citrus-forward gin made largely from local ingredients, which gives the spirt and Indian twist. The citrusy zing is provided by lemon and orange peel, with a coriander spiciness following afterward. The aroma is provided Darjeeling tea and lemongrass, which provide a floral scent during tasting. Notably, it’s light on the juniper, making it the perfect gin for people who don’t usually love gin, opening up new cocktail possibilities for people who normally wouldn’t go for a negroni or G&T. The unusual flavor profile should make in interesting to the gin aficionados, as well. (More information.)

LS Cream Liqueur

SRP: ~$29

Inspired by a Haitian recipe that combines fresh cream and spirits with coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg, the closest flavor comparisons we could come up with for LS Cream Liqueur is egg nog, or coquito. How perfect is that for the holidays? But “Cremas,” as the Haitian inspiration is known, can be enjoyed year-round in cocktails. Our favorite is the LS Espresso—one part each LS cream and vodka, two shots of espresso, and a sprinkle of sugar—for a sweet drink with a caffeine kick to help balance out the booziness. Or, you could pour it straight into a mug of coffee. It tastes great that way, too—and we won’t judge! (More information.)

Amaro Montenegro

SRP: ~$40

Many times, the best gift for the home mixologist is a bottle of something they may not always keep stocked in their liquor cabinet. Most will have several of the staples—their favorite whiskeys, gins, rum, and vodka—next to a few obligatory mixing ingredients, like bitters and vermouth. It’s in the liqueurs where home bars tend to vary the most, as their private bartender will usually only stock up on the things needed to make their personal favorite cocktails and those of the people around them. Reaching for a bottle in one of these sections, you’re less likely to hit something they already have. And even if they already have an amaro on hand, it’s probably either Campari are Aperol—making Amaro Montenegro a varied welcome to any collection.

Amaro Montenegro is not a new liqueur on the scene—far from it. It’s been in production since the 1880s, and is actually the most-drank amaro in Italy. While other brands may have become trendy in the U.S. first, Montenegro’s enduring appeal is obvious the moment it hits your lips. A wave of orange peel bitterness is followed by spicy notes, but neither the bitter nor spiciness is overwhelming. Montenegro can be considered a milder-tasting Amaro, which plays along more nicely in cocktails than many of its competitors. Want to be able to actually taste the bourbon in your Amaro Manhattan, or try an unusual gin in your negroni? Montenegro is a wonderful choice for that purpose, as it tends to complement its dance partners rather than override them. (More information.)

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

SRP: ~$37

If you’re thinking of gifting somebody an aperitif but are worried they don’t have a bitter palate, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto is an excellent Italian liqueur that falls on the opposite end of the taste spectrum. Developed from a 170-year-old recipe, Italicus is a sweet and floral drink, perfect for a light pre-dinner cocktail. The strongest flavors are citrus (bergamot, naturally) and rose petals, but other ingredients include chamomile, lavender, and gentian. Swap it out for the bitter liqueurs in a spritzer or negroni for a different twist on those old favorite cocktails, or serve it straight—there’s enough complexity here for Italicus to be enjoyed unadulterated. (More information.)

Salcombe Rosé Sainte Marie Gin

SRP: ~$40

With its subtle, pink tint making it resemble so many drinkers’ favorite summer wine, it’s no surprise that Salcombe’s Rosé Sainte Marie takes its inspiration from the local French rosés. It’s dry and almost stunningly citrus-forward, and overall is one of the more fruit-dominated gins we’ve tasted. It’s downright lovely. We enjoyed sipping on this one straight, over a single cube. The distillery recommends garnishing it with lemon peel to bring on the citrus, or a slice of strawberry to accentuate the fruits. We’re looking forward to having it again, both ways. (More information.)

For Tailgaters and Backyard Hosts

NomadiQ Portable Gas Grill (NomadiQ)

SRP: $299.99

What’s the most important part of any proper tailgate? Before you say “beer,” let me stop you. Think for a moment. The thing that separates a tailgate from your run-of-the-mill “people drinking in a parking lot” is the food. Sure, it’s easy to snack on chips, dip, and cold cuts, but the best tailgates have hot food, which is even more appreciated as the weather gets colder. What we have here today is the NomadiQ: the most portable, easiest-to-setup and tear down gas grill we’ve ever seen.

When not in use, the NomadiQ folds up to a size smaller than your average laptop bag, and even comes with a shoulder strap so that you can carry it in the same fashion. (While you’re probably only carrying it to and from your car, this makes it easy to take practically anywhere—on hikes, biking trails, to the park, across the neighborhood… the possibilities are near-endless.) While it weighs only twelve pounds, it boasts an impressive 226 square inches of cooking grate—like the TARDIS from Doctor Who, this thing’s much bigger on the inside. That’s enough space to cook for a modest group, and given how quick it is to set up, it’s perfect for ripping out a round of burgers before kickoff, or whipping up a quick lunch during a hike. The best part? It cools down fast, and the grates are dishwasher safe… that means that your NomadiQ will stay slick-looking for a long, long time. If you have a need to grill on the go, we couldn’t recommend the NomadiQ more. (Buy it here.)

Spiceology x Derek Wolf Spirit-Infused Signature Collection

SRP: $52

So, what are you going to put on all of those grilled meats and veggies, huh? Spiceology has teamed up with Over the Fire Cooking’s Derek Wolf to create a Signature Collection of spirit-infused spice blends. The four-pack featured here—perfect for gifting—includes the smoky, ultra-savory Bourbon Prime (perfect for steaks, obviously), the sour and spicy Lemon Chili Rye (great on fish), the warming, peppery Smoked Chipotle Mezcal (for veggies), and our favorite: Sweet Teriyaki Sake, which is not only fun to say, but absurdly delicious. We love it on pork and other meats for Asian fusion dishes, but all of these spice blends are incredibly versatile—feel free to follow the suggestions on each jar’s label, or experiment with your own flavoring ideas as Derek Wolf probably intended. (Buy it here.)

Spiceology x Derek Wolf Six Pack Beer Rub Sampler

SRP: $69

This second collaboration between Spiceology and Over the Fire Cooking mastermind Derek Wolf hands-down wins the best gift packaging award. This six pack of cans looks just like beer on the first glance, down to the plastic carrier. Inside, though, you’ll find six different spice rubs, each one inspired by a variety of beer: Cherry Chipotle Ale, Honey Mustard IPA, Mesquite Peppercorn Lager, Jalapeno Lime Pilsner, Imperial Coffee Stout, and Hickory Peach Porter. This is an incredible range of flavors, and a generous amount of dry rub in each can—the cans come with separate lids, so that you can keep the spices fresh between uses. It’s a perfect gift for your friend with the back yard smoker who likes to enjoy a beer (or three) while they wait for their ribs to come to temperature. (Buy it here.)

California Cowboy’s PCH Full Zip Hoodie

SRP: $148

We’re big fans of California Cowboy’s clothing and outerwear, which somehow manage to be highly fashionable, practical, and extremely cozy all at once—not to mention, packed with all sorts of cool features that you won’t find anywhere else. Their Pacific Coast Highway Hoodies are super rugged, made of 465 gram French Terry. (If you, like us, don’t speak fabric-ese, that means they’re incredibly strong—you can feel just from tugging on one of the sleeves that these are built to last.) You get your standard front pockets, but also a zippered, waterproof pocket (to keep your phone dry on damp morning walks) toward the back, a hidden pocket on the inside for your “pen,” and a loop to hold your sunglasses. The most unique twist, and the reason why we can’t pass them up for our Drinker’s gift guide: California Cowboy’s stitched, nylon-lined bottle pocket, so that you can carry a beer, koozie and all, above your hip like a holstered pistol. You’ll never be left without a bottle opener, either, because these hoodies come with one of those, too.

The men’s PCH hoodies currently come in two cool, retro ‘80s color schemes: navy and white sand, which both feature bold stripes across the chests. They’re perfect for fall weather, or keeping warm inside your home through the winter months.

If flannel is more your style, don’t sleep on their High Sierra flannel shirts, either—they offer many of the same features, and are great for snowy activities such as skiing, stacking firewood, or shoveling snow, all things improved by having a beer in your back pocket. (Buy it here.)

California Cowboy La Sirena Robes

SRP: $168

Okay, okay, we’re cheating a bit here—but we can’t help ourselves. You (probably) aren’t going to wear a robe while you’re camping or tailgating, but California Cowboy’s La Sirena robes are awesome for so many of the same reasons we love their PCH hoodies above. The La Sirena women’s robes are luxury loungewear for when you want to feel like a classic Hollywood star while relaxing at home. They offer a similar waterproof tech pocket to store your phone while sitting by the hot tub or climbing into the shower, a proprietary terry cloth lining for fast drying, interior and exterior belts so that it never comes open unintended, and not one but two booze pockets: one to hold a canned beverage, and another that can fit an entire bottle of champagne. On top of this, it’s unbelievably comfortable and looks amazing in any of the nine currently-available styles. How could you go wrong? (Buy it here.)

High Camp 3-in-1 Highball Shaker

SRP: $79

We raved about High Camp’s elegant flask sets last year, but this year’s new product opens up even more opportunities for cocktails on the go. Their 3-in-1 Highball Shaker—available in copper, gunmetal, or stainless steel—not only serves as a shaker and strainer to easier enjoy your favorite beverages away from home, but it’s vacuum sealed and insulated, meaning you can mix your drink ahead of time and it’ll stay cold until you’re ready to down it. (It will also keep a contents of a sixteen ounce can of beer cold for a full day, if needed.) These things are leak proof and seemingly indestructible, proven by the time we precariously balanced our test unit on a tray to take outside, then immediately hit a bump and watched it bounce down seven stairs without spilling a drop of our refreshments. (We can’t tell you how grateful we were those drinks hadn’t already been poured into glasses.)

If you want an extra personal gift, High Camp offers customized engraving options directly from their website. This is a gift that will class up not only boozy picnics, but practically anyone’s home bar. (Buy it here.)

BlendJet 2 Portable Blender

SRP: $99.95

The BlendJet 2—their latest model of portable blender—has a ton going for it, the paramount of which is its portability. This is a blender roughly the size of a coffee thermos and the same weight. You charge it like a cell phone and toss it in your bag. When you’re ready to blend, you toss in your liquid and other ingredients, hit the button, and twenty seconds later your drink is ready to go. (You can even sip right from the jar.) And even though this thing’s rechargeable, that doesn’t mean it lacks power—it’ll pulverize whatever you drop in there, including ice. You know what that means, right? Frozen margaritas on the beach. Let that sink in for a moment and you’ll know why we love this device. (Buy it here.)

Avana Sparkling Cocktails

SRP: ~$4.50 per can

The industry’s first USDA-certified organic canned cocktails, Avana’s newly-launched tequila drinks pack plenty of flavor without the added sugar you’ll find in other premade cocktails. At only 90 calories and 4.5% alcohol, they offer a healthier option when drinking. (And with the preface that I, personally, am not a scientist—I find that the less sugary my drinks are the night before, the less likely I’ll experience a hangover the next morning.) They offer a great canned Margarita, but we honestly couldn’t get enough of their Paloma, which packed a ton of grapefruit flavor. (Buy it here.)

W&P’s Hot Toddy Cocktail Syrup

SRP: $14

It’s always nice to have one or two nice bottles of cocktail syrups in the refrigerator, just to take the heavy lifting out of making a great mixed drink. W&P have a variety of syrups available to choose from, from Old Fashioned to Moscow Mule, to your choice of Margarita syrups (Light or Spicy). Taking into consideration the wintry season we’re entering, our recommendation of W&P syrup is their Hot Toddy mix. It will add an extra-warming spiciness to your hot drink, as its made from premium ginger, lime, capsicum, and Saigon cinnamon. Just add half an ounce to your mix of hot water, tea, or cider, with your liquor of choice – the added flavors really make for a more complete drink to warm you or your guests on those cold, winter visits. W&P also offer gift packs containing three different syrups, if you have a hard time narrowing down your selection. (Buy it here.)


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