We have been chatting with a number of folks around town to gain some insights and recommendations for holiday imbibing or gifting. Everyone seems to have a favorite cocktail or spirit for this time of the year. Personally, I have been a fan of eggnog since I was old enough to remember. My mother always mixed the kid’s version with a little milk, so it wasn’t quite so rich. Nowadays, of course, I enjoy the alcohol version. If I have some eggnog around, it is a simple process to mix either some bourbon or rum with it. However, I have discovered that the premixed version from Evan Williams, using their own fine bourbon, is as good as it gets. Just pour over ice and you are good to go! Here are some other recommendations I picked up.
This one courtesy of Val at Machiavelli’s in downtown Bristol. It is her go to holiday/winter season drink. She uses Buffalo Trace whiskey, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer and a dash of lemon juice. Stir together in a copper mule mug, garnish with a wedge of lime and enjoy!
Apple Pie Mule
Sara from Knoxville Beverage has two suggestions for us. She ran across the Apple Pie Mule at a customer’s place, Southern Craft BBQ, and really liked it. The recipe calls for Sugarland’s Apple Pie Moonshine. Mix in a copper mule mug with a little apple cider and some ginger beer. Practically dessert in a mug! Her other suggestion is for a nice gift. Calumet Farms now has a premium Kentucky bourbon on the market. This is a high-end whiskey from the same folks who own the horse farm and have had two Triple Crown winners. I plan on giving a bottle of this to myself!
Akashi Plum Whisky
Yes, plum whisky! I was taken aback at first too when Bradley Woods of Best Brands started telling me about this product from Japan. It is apparently quite trendy right now and does have a smooth, unique taste. This could be the gift of the season here. His other suggestion for the beer lovers out there is the Homestyle IPA from Bearded Iris Brewing, a Tennessee award winning craft brewery.
Long a cold weather favorite, there are as many varieties as there are ski bars in Colorado! John at Whiskey Rebellion in Bristol said he has two favorite versions. One is a traditional Toddy using spiced honey syrup, ginger, honey, a cinnamon stick and lemon peel. For the bourbon he prefers Eagle Rare in this one. His other favorite is Spiked Hot Chocolate. What a great idea! And you can use the bourbon, or you can get creative with Vanilla vodka or Coconut rum.
Taking wine? Let’s face it, many of us default to taking wine to a dinner party or gathering. It is easy to do and is always appreciated, whether it gets opened right then or not. Nancy from Corey Ippolito Winery in Blountville says that unless you know in advance what type of wine to bring, take a bottle of red and a bottle of white. Sometimes a dessert wine might be the best idea, especially if the hosts typically have wine available.
Gifting wine? This is a different story altogether. First of all, you are not expecting it to be opened when received, just appreciated. Depending on how well you know the recipient, this can be an easy task. Just by his or her favorite! But if that’s not the case, either put some thought into it or ask your local purveyor for a recommendation. They will typically ask you a couple quick questions and be able to suggest something nice. My recommendation? If you want to give a killer bottle of wine without breaking the bank, find a bottle of Charles Krug. There are several good reds, my favorite being the Cab. Mr. Krug was the first California vintner, winning awards and going bankrupt several times in the late 19th century. His wine is still one of the very best America has to offer.
Enjoy one of these suggestions or your own concoction this holiday season. Just do it responsibly please. Bon Appetit!