We're here to help you get through your gift-giving list
By Steven Sandor | November 16, 2023
Going to the liquor store to buy a bottle for yourself is fairly easy — and enjoyable. Buying a bottle for someone else? Not as much. What’s the right bottle to bring to the Christmas party? What’s right for a great holiday meal?
Wine, beer, cocktails. So many choices out there. We’re not here to make the choice for you, but to give you some options. It’s the season of giving, after all.
Cheata Nao is the general manager of the recently opened Vine Arts location on 124th Street in Edmonton. She says the conversation about bottles for the Christmas season begins with bubbles. After all, what’s Christmas and New Year’s without some champagne toasts?
Because the majority of France’s Champagne region is controlled by a few liquor industry giants, finding a true grower’s champagne is a special thing — and makes for a special gift. Nao recommends the champagnes from Etienne Calsac, a grower who took over his grandparents’ vineyard. He’s committed to organic practises.
If you’re enjoying a cheese platter for a holiday party, Nao says Les Rocheforts “has a little more depth, a few toasty notes — but not overly so.”
Nao says bubbles from Anthony Buchanan is just a fun bottle to enjoy. Maybe it’s the crown lid, like an old-school pop bottle. The muscat can fool you, though.
“It smells sweet but isn’t sweet on the palate,” she says.
But this is a good choice to pair with Christmas dinner, as the acid really works well with the sage we often associate with stuffing.
If there are cocktail enthusiasts in your life, chances are they’re always on the hunt for out-of-the-ordinary syrups and bitters. Banff-based Jolene’s Tea House has created a series of syrups that will bring some zing to home-made cocktails. All you need is one teaspoon per drink.
Your friends will thank you for Italian reds like Unlitro or Castello di Potentino, as they come in one-litre sizes, because size matters when you’re hosting a party. In a time when we’re all talking about shrink-flation, nothing says “you’re my best friend” like one full litre of the good stuff.
“If you like chianti, you’ll like these, and they can be chilled a little bit,” says Nao.
Curtis Bawden of Pacific Wine and Spirits says that the Gérard Bertrand Cahors, a malbec from the south of France, is a great wine for the Christmas party. It won’t break the bank. The tasting notes promise black fruit and violet on the nose, and a full-bodied taste with blackcurrant and licorice.
And, Edmonton’s own Token Bitters has a sampler box for the cocktail aficionado on your list. Each box contains four bitter flavours — Strathcona Orange, Ritchie Cherry, Whyte Lavender and Calder Chai.
You’re thinking about what to get your kid’s teacher for the holidays? After all, this is a person who holds your child’s academic future in his, hers or their hands. Sure, you could be just like all the other parents and go for the coffee gift card.
But nothing says A+ like a curated supply of spirits, beer or wine.
The Whisky Drop offers a series of subscription services. It starts with the Whisk(e)y 101 Gift Subscription. Each month, the recipient gets not only a 700-750 ml bottle of the good stuff, but tasting notes, as well. (Feel free to share this article with my wife).
Sherbrooke Liquor offers a 24 Days of Beermas advent calendar, with a carefully curated selection of Alberta and out-of-province brews. These can be pre-ordered and picked up at either the St. Albert Trail or Ottewell locations on the week of Nov. 21.
Need to send a gift to a friend or family member who doesn’t live in Edmonton? Sure, going to Amazon is the easy default. But, you actually like these people, right? Why not give them a real taste of the city? Many of our fine local distilleries offer gift boxes that can be shipped anywhere in Canada. At Strathcona Spirits, the Coffee + Cream Box features a bottle of the distilleries own Velvet Cream, a mug and a bag of coffee beans from Ace.
The Seasonal Spirit
As well, for either the holiday party or gift giving, check out the seasonal spirits available from Hansen Distillery. For something to add kick to a cocktail, the Mulled Cranberry Moonshine has hints of orange and spice, along with one of our favourite holiday flavours. That’s cranberries, folks. It’s in the name of the drink, right?
Like this content? Get more delivered right to your inbox with Ed. Eats
A list of what’s delicious, delectable and delightful.