Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year — one from each regular contributor. This one comes from In The Spirit columnist Eve Turow.
As the countdown to Christmas nears completion, consider filling your last few empty stockings with one of the most universally pleasing gifts (for adults) of all: booze and booze-related frivolities. This has been a fantastic year for New York in the world of mixology, brewing, and distilling. Celebrate the stellar products being made and the expert cocktails shaken and stirred with these unique home bar finds.
Jack From Brooklyn’s Sorel
This product is a hands-down holiday gift winner. Steeped with delicious herbs — ginger, cassia root, and cloves, for example — this liqueur is enjoyable over ice, heated, mixed with champagne, or even drizzled into eggnog. And at 15 percent alcohol, it’s a dram you can sip throughout a long fireside evening. Added bonus: you’ll be supporting a Red Hook small business, and you’ll likely surprise your giftee with this unique find.
Greenhook Ginsmiths’ Beach Plum Gin
A riff on the British cordial sloe gin, this New York version supplies the same wintry tart flavors as the beloved UK Christmas-time classic. Proprietor Steven DeAngelo macerates and soaks Long Island beach plums with his award winning American Dry gin and organic turbinado sugar to create the first commercially released Beach Plum Gin. The result is a stone fruit infusion with a thick marzipan-like, fortified wine character that you can drink in cocktails or sip all on its own.
Tuthilltown Spirits’ Hudson Maple Cask Rye Whiskey
This may be the best thing you put in your glass this winter. The whiskey will warm you from the inside, and the subtle maple flavor offers a sweet brown sugar note that rounds out the pour. Made from 100 percent rye, this powerful spirit is aged for four years in charred oak barrels before ending its aging process in maple syrup-cured whiskey barrels. It has a hefty price tag — around $50 for 375 mL — but hey, it’s the holidays.
The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks, by Amy Stewart
For the cocktail lover who thinks they know everything, The Drunken Botanist is sure to supply new factoids, historical stories, and recipes about distillates around the globe. Author Amy Stewart expertly tackles tales of nearly every plant any human has ever tried to boil into a strong drink. A bestseller, this intoxicating read is the ideal gift for anyone interested in the sciences, history, etymology or mixology.
Hemingway Muddler, Sterling Place
As couture cocktails continue to gain fans around the city, more and more drinkers are trying their hand at mixology. One of the most basic tools to getting started on the home-cocktail journey is a badass muddler; find one beautiful version of this tool at Sterling Place in Brooklyn. Crush citrus peel, macerate fresh herbs, or break ice with this nifty and thrifty gift (just $12). Buy one or the whole set at one of three Sterling Place locations. (363 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-797-5667, 11217; 352 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-499-4800,11215; 148 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, 718-788-1216, 11215)