Great Boozy Holiday Gifts

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via Marquerite Preston at The Wirecutter – Like a lot of people, I’ve given the gift of alcohol many times. Sometimes it’s the gift of last resort: the bottle of wine I buy on the way to a party, the bottle of whiskey for that one person who really has me stumped this year. Alcohol is an easy present to give anyone who drinks because it’s guaranteed to be used, guaranteed to be enjoyed. But for the right person—the wine connoisseur, the beer geek, the cocktail enthusiast—the gift of booze (or something booze-related) can also be exciting and special.

Here are the boozy gifts we’d be excited to give—and get—all offering a little something more than the basic bottle of wine, or, for that matter, any of the practical gear we spend all year testing. We’ve included the best spirits your loved ones may never have tried, the best books to expand their drinking horizons, and the gear to make every cocktail hour feel like a special occasion.

This list comes backed by the pros. I asked for advice from five experts in the world of drinks and drinking: Talia Baiocchi, Joshua M. Bernstein, Martin Cate, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and Ann Tuennerman. Baiocchi is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Punch and the author, with Leslie Pariseau, of the cocktail book Spritz; Bernstein is a beer and spirits writer, and the author most recently of the book Complete IPA; Cate is the owner of San Francisco’s renowned tiki bar, Smuggler’s Cove, and the author of a book by the same name; Morgenthaler is a cocktail writer, author of The Bar Book, and bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon; Tuennerman is the founder of Tales of the Cocktail, a world-renowned series of cocktail festivals. Everything here is something one (or more) of them recommended, and sure to please even the most discerning of drinkers.

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Elements of Brunch

berries-quicheOr How to make a fabulous brunch. The holiday season is upon us and those waffles aren’t going to make themselves. Here are some tips for making a great brunch from Yellow Table. 

1) Don’t try and do everything. If you’re hosting, you’re already having to clean your place, set the table, and at least buy some of the food. Let other people help out in other ways!! If you have a friend who loves to do flowers (or even better has a garden), let them bring the flowers. Tell everyone to bring a bottle of sparkling wine, or some OJ or coffee. Let people help out by bringing a dish, or picking up croissants or fruit.

2) Make some sort of main course and keep the rest of the food extremely simple. I also try to have something savory, something sweet, some sort of fruit, and some sort of salad. For this brunch, I decided to make a couple of crustless quiches for the main course and kept everything else super-easy: I bought some croissants, tossed together an arugula salad (with apples and watermelon radishes), and put out a bowl of berries. I also made a strawberry-rhubarb compote to go with the croissants, which took about 10 minutes to make and was a nice homemade touch.

3) Make a fresh-squeezed mimosa bar. This is SO easy and is a really nice touch. Before guests arrive, squeeze some oranges (I love Cara Cara or blood oranges) and/or grapefruit juice, pour into pretty little pitchers, and set out beside chilled bottles of bubbly. People can just make their own mimosas, which leaves you free to finish the food or talk to everyone as they arrive. And have at least a little something to nibble on when guests arrive, even if it’s just some olives or nuts or crostini.

4) Make a bunch of little flower arragements from one bigger bunch of flowers. I was lucky to have my friend Jenn‘s help with flowers – she just bought a few bunches of lilac, cut them into smaller bundles (which she tied with butchers’ twine) and stuck them in some little pitchers and vases I had. Then she tucked a few sprigs in bud vases. This is such a simple, affordable way to create pretty flower arrangements on the table! The key is to keep things low so people can still see each other over the flowers.

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