Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018 Part 8: The Drinker’s Guide
Gifts for Coffee, Wine, Beer, and Cocktail-lovers
Dec 18, 2018 By Austin Trunick
The latest installment of our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide is for those of you out there who enjoy a little cup of somethin’-somethin’, whether that’s coffee or a more intoxicating vice such as wine, spirits, or good ol’ beer. Please feel free to peruse the below for ideas for what to buy the beverage fan in your life, or to find a tasy alternative to egg nog at your next holiday gathering.
For the coffee drinker…
World Coffee Tour Box (Bean Box)
Do you know someone who would appreciate an instant masterclass in the world’s best coffee regions? Bean Box offers the World Coffee Tour in their selection of gift boxes, and it serves just such a purpose. In it you’ll find sixteen varieties of freshly-roasted beans from around the world, featuring a wide variety of flavor profiles – from earthy to fruit-forward, nutty to chocolatey and everything in between. Each 1.8oz package comes labeled with tasting notes and great background information. (1.8oz, or four tablespoons, is the ideal amount of coffee for one 10-cup pot, so you'll be able to share.) Bean Box also offers subscriptions of varying sizes, or for gift-giving made especially easy, a box of coffees paired with gourmet chocolates or a bundle of eight artisanal holiday blends. (Learn more here.)
Driftaway’s Personalized Coffee Subscription (Driftaway Coffee)
SRP: $132.00 for six monthly, one-pound deliveries
Tailored to your coffee lover’s individual tastes, Driftaway’s personalized coffee subscription is the gift that keeps giving morning after morning, month after month. You’ll first receive a tasting kit with four distinctive coffees; try them, and then rate them through Driftaway’s website or app. After that, you’ll get coffees that match your palate shipped directly in the sizes and at the frequency you’ve selected – from 7 ounces up to two pounds every week, every other week, or monthly. It’s like having a knowledgeable barista picking roasts they know you’ll love, but without having to get out of your slippers and drive to a coffee shop. Add in the postcards included in each box that give facts about each bean’s origin, and you’ve got the perfect gift for any coffee nerd. (Learn more here.)
Roam Travel Mug (Highwave)
This 9”, 16 oz. travel mug may be the best one we’ve come across for those dreaded morning drives. Unscrew the top and you can open and close the mug with only the push of a button – the design allows you to drink from any edge, meaning you won’t have to take your eyes off the road while you look for a hole in a cap. (It’s better than an open-mouthed thermos, being nowhere near as dangerous when filled with piping hot coffee.) It can fit in any standard cup holder, meaning it’s good to grab and go for the morning commute, and the cap keeps it leak-tight, so feel free to toss it in your bag without fear. Available in six colors, it’ll keep your beverage hot for 12 hours – though, to be honest, we’ll probably have refilled it two or three times within that timespan. (Buy it here.)
Notorious RBG Mug (Spread Shirt)
Eighty-five-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a certified Supreme Court badass, one of the few Supreme Court Justices to truly become a celebrity. There are children's books about her, action figures in her likeness, this year's feature film documentary on her, RBG, and a biopic on her coming out this month starring Felicity Jones as a young Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her husband, Martin. In 2013, then law student Shana Knizhnik started the Notorious RBG meme and Tumblr page, comparing Ginsburg's swagger to the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. That led to the New York Times best selling book Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and various merchandising (Ginsburg herself admits to giving Notorious RBG T-shirts to friends as a gag gift). And now we have this mug from Spread Shirt. It's an effective and amusing design. Show your friends that you have sense of humor and also support one of the four remaining Supreme Court Justice's appointed by a Democratic. May she live long and prosper. By Mark Redfern. (Buy it here.)
For the wine enthusiast…
Vinebox Wine Subscription (Vinebox)
SRP: Starting at $72 per shipment
A quarterly subscription service, Vinebox helps oenophiles keep apprised of the latest wine trends, try out new varieties and vineyards, and discover their next favorite bottle of vino. Each box arrives with nine glasses of wine tailored to your personal preferences. (Are you a lover of red, white, or both?) The curators at Vinebox taste thousands of wines, choosing only the best of the best to share in their samplers – these are labels you’d normally only find at high-end restaurants, or by placing special orders directly from vineyards, so you can rest assured you’ll be trying something you won’t come across at the local stores. Packed in the box you’ll find a card with tasting notes, pairing recommendations, and other information that will keep you in the know about what’s in your glass.
Vinebox’s current offering is The New Winter Wines, containing seven reds and two whites chosen to help fortify you through the cold months ahead. A few of the highlights include the Tenuta di Artimino Centocamini – a nice Chianti, as Mr. Lecter would say – and a pair of “declassified” single-varietal French wines. The info card recommends which are best for a snow day, sipped alongside the Christmas Turkey, or paired with a holiday pie.
This is easily the next best way to explore new wines short of touring the vineyards yourself. Sign up for $79 per shipment, or order a full year’s subscription ahead at a discount of $72 per box. There’s also the option to buy a single shipment, but trust us – you’ll already be looking forward to your next box’s arrival before you’re halfway through that first one. Members earn credit that can be put towards full bottles of their favorite wines, and reps from Vinebox are available over E-mail to answer any questions about your wines or provide tasting tips. (Learn more here.)
Vinogloww Stemless Wine Glass (Highwave)
If you’re like us, you’ve accidentally elbowed over enough wine glasses to prefer yours stem-free. (Hey, not all of us were born graceful!) However, that creates a problem, especially with white wines, in that contact with your fingers will rapidly warm your vino to less tasty temperatures. This special glassware solves that issue with its double walls, which add a buffer between your digits and your beverage. (They’ll also help keep your drink cooler longer on hot summer afternoons.) Factor in how handsome they are and you’ll have a hard time going back to traditional wine glasses. (Buy it here.)
Elvis Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Lot18)
SRP: $40 for 2 bottles
This limited edition cab sav celebrates the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ legendary “comeback special.” On December 3rd, 1968, Elvis played a concert nationally televised on NBC; rock ‘n’ roll had changed drastically over the prior seven years in which he’d been focused more on his acting career than music. This TV performance, congenial and stripped down, not only proved “The King” was still relevant to a younger generation, but launched an all-new phase to his performing career. Don’t come expecting notes of peanut butter, banana and bacon, but a cheery red wine with hints of black cherry. Grab a bottle for a holiday gathering, or for the Elvis fan in your life. (Buy it here.)
For the home mixologist…
Exotic Bitters Mini Set (Scrappy’s Bitters)
It’s our opinion that a variety of bitters is the cornerstone of any home mixologist’s repertoire. But, there’s more to these dashes of flavor than just your standard bottles of Angostura and Regans’ Orange No. 6. Scrappy’s handcrafts their bitters in Seattle, Washington, offering up a wide variety of classic (orange, celery) and more experimental flavors. Their “Exotic” set provides a great way to test drive the latter category, and includes mini bottles of their chocolate, cardamom, grapefruit, and wonderfully floral lavender bitters. (The last one will give your drink the aroma of a florists’ shop and a delightfully unique flavor profile.) A recipe card inside the box provides cocktail suggestions for each, or feel free, like we do, to just add a splash to a glass of straight bourbon for an extra layer of flavor. Scrappy’s also sells a set of their classic, which is perfect for a cocktail fan setting out on their first bitters adventure. (Learn more here.)
Cocktail Crate’s Pre-Made Mixers (Cocktail Crate)
Are you a whiskey fan? Well, we’ve got some cocktails for you. Founded in Brooklyn, New York, Cocktail Crate is the work of Alex Abbott Boyd, who set out to make pre-made mixers in the same, precise fashion as high-end whiskeys. The results take all the guesswork out of making your go-to whiskey cocktails, from the classic Old Fashioned to the Whiskey Sour and Ginger Mule, resulting in a perfectly-portioned drink each and every time. (You only have to provide the whiskey!) The Originals Line is all about new takes on these standbys, and also offers interesting blends such as the Ginger Bee and the Sriracha Margarita for imbibers who prefer other spirits over whiskey. To add some seasonal flair to your holiday, we’d recommend their Maple Whiskey Sour (which also works with cognac or rum) or the Spiced Old Fashioned, with notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange, to keep your friends and family warm post-mealtime. (Learn more here.)
Bittermilk No. 7: Gingerbread Old Fashioned (Bittermilk)
Bittermilk is a brand of cocktail mixers founded by the husband and wife team of Joe and MariElena Raya in Charleston, South Carolina. These couldn’t be any easier to manage: simply mix in an allotted ratio of Bittermilk with the appropriate spirit and you’ll have a distinctive cocktail, ready to drink. They offer seven varieties to fit almost any taste, ranging from twists on traditional favorites such as a Bourbon Barrel-aged Old Fashioned and a Tom Collins, to intrepid concoctions like their Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour and Charred Grapefruit Tonic. Bittermilk’s No. 7 label is a rotating, limited edition seasonal variety, this year a Gingerbread-flavored Old Fashioned, using molasses and gingerbread spice to create a mixer that, when combined with aged rum, makes a lovely holiday drink. Each bottle makes 17 Gingerbread Old Fashioned cocktails, perfect for a winter get-together – grab one now, before they’re gone. (Buy it here.)
For the beer fan…
Beer is for Everyone! (of Drinking Age) (One Peace Books)
This full-color collection of beer-centric comics comes from Em Sauter, a cartoonist who is also a certified Cicerone – that’s the beer equivalent of a sommelier – and beer judge. Filled with the sort of playfulness you’d find in the funny pages, Beer is for Everyone breaks down all of the most popular beer styles using examples from craft breweries around the world. Where too many beer reviews read like somebody’s surrealist slam poetry and overuse the word “mouthfeel” to the point where things start getting uncomfortable, Beer is for Everyone is down-to-earth, describing the drinking experience and explaining what makes each beer unique in words that anyone can understand. (Sauter’s sense of humor keeps it lively, too.) Whether for the beer beginner or the seasoned aficionado who wants to sound like they know what they’re talking about over their next tasting flight, this book is for anyone who enjoys the brews. (Buy it here.)
King in the North (Ommegang)
This April will mark the beginning of the end for our favorite HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones. Ahead of the final season’s premiere, Brewery Ommegang have release King in the North, the final beer in their Royal Reserve Collection of high-alcohol brews inspired by the show. Appropriate for Winterfell’s chosen leader, Jon Snow, this is a barrel-aged stout sold in a sizeable, 750ml bottle. With an ABV of 11%, its volume is enough to keep any beer (or GoT) fan warm while standong watch upon the wall. Also available is a four-pack featuring all four Royal Reserve beers and sharp-looking Game of Thrones glass. (Buy it here.)
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