Choosing the perfect gift is always difficult, especially when it comes to someone who’s picky. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to save you worry and time. Here’s what I recommend to buy and what isn’t worth your time.
For the whiskey drinker, the first thing you need to do is pass on the whiskey stones. The only thing that should go in your whiskey is ice or nothing, and that is why you should invest in an ice ball maker. You do not have to get the ridiculously expensive Cirrus Ice Ball Maker from William Sonoma for $700. Simply go see my buddy, Joe Posch, at Hugh, his store in Midtown Detroit. He sells an ice cube tray that makes darn good ice balls for just $9! The large ice ball has less surface area, so the ice melts slower, diluting your drink less yet still keeping it cold. Plus, it looks super cool.
Buying the bourbon itself is tricky, too, but now is a great time to do it since there are so many interesting and unique whiskies on the market. Traverse City Whiskey and Valentine’s are my favorite Michigan-made whiskies, and Colorado’s Stranahan’s and Breckenridge are getting rave reviews. Straight-up good values include Elijah Craig 12 year, Colonel E.H. Taylor and Eagle Rare, but at Nino’s, we like Buffalo Trace so much we bought our very own barrel! Make sure to pick up some of our single-barrel Buffalo Trace bourbon before it’s all gone!
Lastly, for the true enthusiast, I would recommend Oak Barrels Limited. This is a fun way your loved one can give his or her hand a try at aging whiskey! You simply buy an unaged spirit, like Buffalo Trace White Dog, fill your barrel and wait. You can choose the amount of char on the barrel as well as the galvanized hoop color and even personalize the barrel by branding your name on it.
For the wine lover in your life, we have many distinct, hard-to-find California Cabernet Sauvignons like Lewis, Caymus and Celani as well as high-scoring French Chateauneuf-du- Papes and Bordeauxs. If you already have a stocked cellar, there are lots of accessories you can get.
Good-quality wine glasses are key to getting the most out of a glass of wine. Riedel Glassware is the highest quality, and they have entry-level glasses at affordable prices as well as sommelier level at a heftier price.
A large-bottomed glass decanter is useful for decanting and aerating. Riedel also sells these. However, you can find all sorts at Bed Bath & Beyond or Macy’s. There are some fancier ones out there online, like this one. However, I couldn’t even begin to understand how to clean it!
The newest and latest craze for wine aficionados is the Coravin. The price is steep at about $300, but the process could actually save you money. The Coravin allows you to stick a tiny needle through the cork of a bottle and extract a glass of wine. The innovative design keeps the rest of the wine in the bottle safe from aeration, allowing it to age gracefully. This way, you can sample wines from your cellar to see if they are ready to drink or not. Moreover, if you’re drinking solo or you’re the only person in your party who enjoys a particular wine, you can pour one glass instead of opening a whole bottle and wasting most of it.
The holidays are a joyful time that shouldn’t be stressful or worrisome. I hope my gift-giving guide helps you find the perfect gift for that special someone in your life!
– Jennifer Laurie