Christmas Drink Gifts for Everyone

A last-minute Christmas gift guide that won’t disappoint

Dad — Luksusowa Vodka

Fathers are a royal pain to shop for, aren't they? By the time they hit 50 or 60, they never really need anything they wouldn't just as soon buy for themselves. At this point, it’s best to get the old man his standard fare, and for mine that's this Polish vodka made from potatoes instead of the usual grain. Crisp, but with a side-of-your-tongue bite, Luksusowa dives smoothly into the Screwdrivers my dad loves, and it's cheaper than many other potato vodkas. Whenever I come home for a visit, the second I set down my bags he asks, "Would you like a cocktail?" by which he means, "Would you like a vodka and whatever fruit juice(s) I have at the moment?" With a bottle of Luksusowa in the freezer, you bet I would. 

Mom — Samuel Adams' White Christmas

Truth be told, my mother is usually just as happy drinking whatever dad brings home, and for most of the holidays, her beverage of choice is a Screwdriver as well. But she also likes beer more than he does, and she favors the whiter-but-not-weaker end of the spectrum. Sam Adams' seasonals can be very hit-or-miss (Remember "Cherry Wheat," anyone? The correct answer is "No, thank you, I’d rather not."), but White Christmas is delicious: refreshing enough for a summer brew, but blended with hints of cinnamon and clove, which makes it the perfect beer to accompany Bing Crosby on the stereo. Additionally, it's an ideal companion for holiday drinking games.

Brother Number One — Green Hat Gin

Gifting a locally made spirit can be a great way to share the flavor of your area with family living far away, and for those of us living in Washington, D.C., that flavor has to be Green Hat. Three years old and a fast favorite with District bartenders, this hand-crafted gin tones down the juniper in favor of subtle notes of melon, coriander, and celery — keep this in mind regarding your choice of garnish. Perfect for fans of Hendrick's, Green Hat will be flying out west to spend time with my brother in Arizona this year. Thankfully, I know he's a fan — he also got a bottle last year. 

Brother Number Two — Pendleton 1910 Rye Whiskey

My younger-younger brother and I are constantly trying expose each other to new whiskeys we love, and it seems like I'm having a hard time keeping this 12-year-aged Canadian on the shelf; I wonder if he'll have better luck. It's considerably more sophisticated than the basic Pendleton, but still just as warm and smoky. Anything more substantial than ice used as a mixer for this rye should count as a misdemeanor; cola is a hanging offense. It's not my favorite rye — that remains Bulleit — but given the beautifully minimalist bottle, it makes a prettier present. 

Imaginary Sister — Stolichnaya Vanilla

I don't have a sister, but if I did, she'd be a Stoli girl. My favorite mixologist once recommended subbing this into White Russians, and I've never looked back. Two measures of Stoli Vanil, one of Kahlúa, cover it with half-and-half, and that's not just a dessert in a glass, that's a great dessert in a glass. Let it snow, let it snow.

Grandparents — Maker's Mark

Grandparents are probably not the gift recipients to give a test run to jalapeño-infused tequila or a chic new boysenberry liqueur. Mine tend to like Christmas classics — turkey dinners, Dickens villages, Miracle on 34th Street, and Kentucky bourbon on the rocks, or else with ginger ale. Maker's might be the most flexible of the middle-shelf bourbons: it's equally at home in a beat-up frat house or a four-star steakhouse. The bottle's aesthetic, however, practically screams grandparents, with its wide base and dripping red wax. Want to be the favorite grandchild? Wrap up a bottle of this. 

The Aunt Who Only Drinks Wine — Villa Rinaldi's Bug Juice

I've only ever had one aunt, and she is no longer with us, but for many Christmases I watched ice cubes melt in her glass of white wine. Would that I had given her this moscato d'asti, which walks that wonderful line between "sweet" and "alcoholic candy." If you like moscato, you have to try it from the home country, and it you're tired of prosecco, this bottle might just change your drinking habits forever. Playful, seductive, and pretty damn cheap (if you pay $15 before taxes, you're paying too much), even fans of dry might need a spare case of this. 

The Uncle Who Doesn't Drink — MarketSpice's Earl Grey African Redbush


The holidays are particularly hard on those who abstain from alcohol, but that doesn't mean they don't get tasty beverages. Every year — every single year — I expect African red teas to become a "Major Trend Item," like oversized houndstooth patterns or those cleaner-fish pedicures, but it has yet to happen. African redbush — or rooibos — is crazy delicious, with a complexity that simply escapes most teas, and voluminously healthy, with more antioxidants than you can shake a stick at. Care to fashion it like Earl Grey, that most stalwart of black teas? Why, you're quite welcome, teetotaling relative. 

For the Whole Family and Holiday Guests — Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Once every member of our family hit the legal age, drinking became a communal endeavor. At Christmas, that means our annual tradition is eggnog, which can blend with anything from bourbon to brandy (I actually prefer mine alcohol-free), but rum is a crowd-pleaser, and this is crowd-pleasing rum. The licorice and molasses, which can make Kraken a challenge on its own, practically dance in and out of the cream of nog. Also, you can tell how strong you're running by how dark your drink gets. Anywhere on that spectrum is fine; your holiday party guests might find themselves preferring rum with a dash of eggnog, as opposed to the other way around.