Holiday Gift Guide 2023

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Whether you are a last minute shopper or you like to gift beyond the holiday season, these are a few of our favorite things, that are sure to put a smile on the face of the cocktail lover in your life (especially if that is you!). 

THE Book

The ultimate gift you can give this holiday season is the gift of knowledge, and in this case, the right kind of knowledge gives you better drinks! 

“How to Make Better Cocktails” is a modern day home bartenders bible, but don’t take our word for it – read the glowing reviews!    

Practice makes perfect, and we want the knowledge learnt to be put to good use. With just a few ingredients you can make an array of great cocktails. Below are a few delicious and fun additions to your gift giving, a selection of our current favourite spirits and some extras to enhace the cocktail making experience. 

Booze

Contrary to what some people believe, you actually don’t always need to spend a fortune to get good spirits. 

Here are a few of our favourite bottles this year – They have been what we have reached for! They are delicious in their own right and are ideally suited for great cocktails. 

Kilinga Bacanora Silvestre – Be ahead of the trend and get into the Agave spirit of Sonora, Mexico. Elegant, complex and grassy with just a hint of smoke. Don’t restrict your mixing to agave classics, it’ll work in most recipes that require a light dry spirit. It makes a great Daiquiri for example, and even a Dry Martini. Otherwise, sip it neat, lightly chilled.

St Germain  – Once referred to as ‘bartenders ketchup’ because it simply goes with anything! From Spritzes to Off-dry Martinis, this is still one of the best liqueurs to have in your collection.  The Elderflower pops in this years highly talked about cocktail, The Hugo Spritz or our popular French Spritz.

Fords Gin – A modern gin created in the classic style. This takes the best of some of the worlds greatest gins and creates a smooth, well balanced and incredibly mixable gin perfect for cocktails from the Dry Martini to the Ramos Gin Fizz and everything in-between. The bottle was also built to be repurposed and we strongly recommend you use it to batch this holiday season! 

Dolin Vermouth – A classic french Dry Vermouth that’s well balanced and a perfect partner to your favourite gin in your preferred Dry Martini recipe.  Don’t forget that good vermouth is also delicious sipped neat and ice cold! NB: Even though it’s fortified, care for it like a white wine once it’s open to avoid oxidization. Your Dry Martini will thank you! 

Martell Cognac – One of the great old Cognac houses every home needs a bottle of Cognac in it. Cognac is a brandy made from grapes grown in the Cognac region of France which includes some of the most famous grape growing regions in the world, including a quite well-known Cru call Champagne! Cordon Bleu is an absolute treat, but even Martell’s VS works really well in cocktails. If you haven’t mixed any Cognac cocktails yet, you will NOT be disappointed! 

Lot 40 Rye Whisky – Not only is this Whisky delicious for sipping, it’s highly versatile and approachable for cocktails too. This is also a brand doing great work in re-educating the world of the virtues of Canadian Whisky, in terms of both production and heritage. Mix it into a Manhattan or an Old Pal, you won’t regret it!

Mount Gay Rum – If you like a rum that’s a perfect balance of flavour profiles, this producer delivers it all. A little funk with light grassy notes, as well as heavier notes of vanilla and leather. From Barbados, one of the oldest, if not the oldest rum producing island. Mount Gay creates rums using from both light column still and heavier pot still distillates. Our particular favourite for all round enjoyment is the Mount Gay XO.

Lustau Sherry – Have you ever bought a bottle of Sherry? Your answer may well be no…and it’s time that changed. Of course they are a joy to enjoy chilled and neat, but they’re also a fantastic, and historic, cocktail ingredient too! We have a whole collection of sherry recipes in our book and online. Different styles have very different flavour profiles and uses. Dive in and get tasting.

Redbreast Irish Whiskey – This is an absolute treat, no matter what whiskey you usually drink. It’s a delight to sip neat and works great in cocktails too. We might suggest cocktails that take a lighter touch, to allow the flavours of this elegant whiskey to come through. A Whiskey Highball is a great option for example;  just a fine tall glass with 2 parts Redbreast, 3 parts of highly carbonated water to add a little refreshing bite then filled with good quality ice. Perfect! 

Bitters

Aromatic Bitters add complexity, bitterness to a drink and help to bind the flavours of a cocktail together. Creating a truly unified flavour profile on the palate. You only need a dash or two, but their influence is mighty!

The OG of Aromatic Bitters are Angostura Bitters. If you do want to try an alternative, we’d recommend Regans Orange bitters, for a touch of citrus or add some aniseed notes with Peychauds, a classic from New Orleans, 

Equipment

Even though we are true believers that knowledge IS the key and that you can make most cocktails with what you already have at home. There are speciality tools that will help you make drinks and look like a pro. Also, shiny new nice things!

A jigger will help with precision in measuring ingredients and ensuring you can correctly follow recipe specs. 

 A jam jar will get you so far in a pinch.. but if you are commited to making drinks, a shaker is an essential tool. 

Strainers – If you have none, get a hawthorne. If you want to refine your techniques get a fine strainer and then finally, get a julep strainer. 

Sparkling Water

We’re not saying that sparkling water (except for the Soda Stream) is the type of thing you would buy as a gift, but you’ve no doubt heard us talk about the importance of dilution time and time again, and dilution is often delivered via sparkling water. 

So, if you’re gifting our cocktail book and a nice bottle of booze, you might want to think about the other ‘tools’ that you’ll need. Fresh citrus, sugar, eggs…sparkling water… see it does make sense. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of getting a fun new gadget with no batteries! 

Historically, recipes called for different styles of sparkling waters such as club soda or seltzer. Different styles have different levels of minerality and carbonation. Sparkling water like Perrier is fairly low in minerality, meaning it’s not going to add a lot of flavours to your recipes, and it’s also high in carbonation, which is excellent for cocktails. Topo-Chico also has good carbonation but on the other hand has more salinity, so might not suit your taste in every cocktail, but is an excellent option in long citrusy drinks. Of course, if you want complete control, just get a Soda Stream and control it all yourself!

As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
@Candra_Drinks  #MakeBetterDrinks  #CandraDrinks

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