Americans love a good sip. In 2022, consumers spent $37.6 billion on spirits alone — and wine and beer sales added considerably more to that total. Naturally, that means consumers also like to gift a good bottle, especially come holiday time.
Once again, we’re serving up our 12 Bottles of Christmas, the Weekend Sip column’s highly curated (and dare we say, slightly idiosyncratic) gift guide that offers a variety of selections covering all the alcoholic (and even non-alcoholic) categories. But in case you can’t find a bottle here that suits your recipient, feel free to refer back to our 12 Bottles guides from previous years: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Oh, and needless to say: Happy holidays!
The red bottle
Our annual guide always makes a nod to the season’s two colors — red and green. And the red bottle often takes the form of a good red wine. But this year, we’re opting for a reddish-colored sip of a different kind. Heimat New York, an artisanal-minded brand from the Empire State that specializes in some of the best liqueurs we’ve ever had, offers a black currant one ($32) that speaks to the spirit (pardon the pun) of the season — think fruitcake flavor. But if you’re looking for other fruity options, Heimat’s lineup also includes white peach, blackberry, nectarine, cranberry, raspberry and Bosc pear varieties.
The green bottle
This is green as in good-for-the-planet. And Horsepower Vineyards, a Washington-state winemaker, aims to do that with wines that are produced with biodynamic principles in mind — meaning farming methods that are generally natural and chemical-free. Indeed, the label’s name derives from the fact that horses are used to help with the vineyard cultivation. Among the label’s noteworthy recent offerings are its 2019 Fiddleneck Vineyard Grenache ($121) and 2019 Tribe Vineyard Syrah ($121).
The get-your-groove-on bottle
Why settle for a bottle of gin when you can have your gin with some swinging tunes? That’s the idea behind the Music to Drink Martinis To bundle (starting at $40) from Fords Gin, a British brand that bills its spirit as a “modern take on a classic London Dry Gin.” As the bundle name implies, this package comes with both bottle and an LP with martini-friendly music (make sure your gift recipient has a turntable!). There’s an accompanying booklet as well with martini-making advice.
The apple bottle
Calvados is a spirit that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, at least in our book. It’s an apple brandy, sourced from France – specifically, the Normandy region. Boulard is one of the most legendary producers of Calvados, with a history going back to the late 1820s. For the holidays, it offers a straightforward gift set ($49.66) featuring its VSOP expression and two glasses — in other words, a great way to introduce someone to this special sip.
The Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar bottle
What does Food Network favorite chef Guy Fieri have in common with rocker Sammy Hagar? Both are spirits connoisseurs — specifically, tequila connoisseurs. And they have teamed up to create and promote Santo Tequila, a brand that prides itself on “showcasing old-world tequilas that harken back to the precision and craftsmanship renowned among Mexican tequileros.” Earlier this year, the brand launched its most ultra-premium expression — an añejo (meaning “old” or aged) tequila ($86.99). You can certainly use it to make your high-end holiday margarita, but it’s great for gifting to the tequila lover (or Fieri or Hagar fan) on your list.
The global bottle
We associate fine wine with a number of countries, from France to the U.S. But what if there was a unique bottle that blended wines from a number of nations? That’s the idea behind Pangaea Estates, a label that does such bold blending. Its 2016 vintage is a wine that mixes everything from a California Cabernet Sauvignon to a South African Cabernet Franc, along with vino from France, Spain and Argentina. As might be expected, such a bottle commands a fairly hefty price — it’s sold in a case of three for $1,500 — so keep this in mind as a gift for someone you’re really looking to impress. Go to the Pangaea Estates website for more information about buying.
The perfect penmanship bottle
Double Diamond is a California wine label that, in its words, aims to “make the best Cabernet Sauvignon that Napa Valley can offer.” And its winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, has backed that up with a history of producing dozens of bottles that have scored 100-point ratings from top critics. But the label’s commitment to excellence doesn’t apparently end with what’s in the bottle. For the holidays, Double Diamond has partnered with Dempsey & Carroll, a bespoke stationery brand, to offer an Elevating Moments gift set ($250) that includes a fountain pen and — what else? — some stationery (think high-end note cards). The Double Diamond team says the collaboration “was designed to celebrate and inspire the art of human connection.”
The bottle(s) of beer
Here’s one for the beer lover in your life — an invitation to join a beer club. Firestone Walker, a California brewer known for its innovative and diverse range of brews, offers a Brewmaster’s Collective club ($399) that features a welcome kit (delivered in late January 2024) plus four quarterly collections. It adds up to 21 small-batch barrel-aged beers in addition to some specialty merchandise and food items (even a beer-soaked cheese!) — all delivered to your gift recipient over the course of a year.
The pretty-in-pink bottle
Make that the pretty-in-pink box — with bottle included. Acquire is a company that specializes in creating all sorts of interesting wine-themed gift sets. Its Box en Pink ($299.99) indeed includes a pinkish sparkling wine — specifically, a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, but that’s rounded out by a range of fashion, cosmetics and other products via top brands, from a scarf by ba&sh to a pink quartz necklace by Boneur. Sure enough, it comes packaged in a striking pink box. Other noteworthy Acquire sets include a California Gold one ($155) with an alcohol-free wine and specialty food items and a chocolate-and-wine box (from $115).
The bottle (er, pint) of ice cream
Tipsy Scoop is the brand that has put boozy ice cream on the map. It sells its alcohol-enhanced offerings at its “barlour” scoop shops in New York City and elsewhere, plus online, and it goes all out on the holidays with special collections available on the Goldbelly platform. This season, it has a Holiday Spirits four-pack ($99.95) with such offerings as a White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Martini (made with Mozart White Chocolate Liqueur) and a Mrs. Clausmopolitan Sorbet inspired by the Cosmopolitan cocktail.
The alcohol-free bottle
These days, alcohol-free wine, spirits and beer alternatives abound, so why not think about gifting such an item to someone who embraces the sober approach? We especially like the cocktail packages from Cut Above, a zero-proof spirits brand that’s been around for a little more than a year. These include everything you need to make a booze-free mixed drink, be it an Old Fashioned ($54.99), a Margarita ($49.99) or even a Bee’s Knees ($45.99).
The box with many bottles
We couldn’t have a holiday gift guide without at least one Advent calendar offering, so here’s a rum-themed one to celebrate the season. Spiribam is a spirits company that focuses heavily on top-quality Caribbean rum from Martinique and St. Lucia, and it puts a dozen of those sips (in miniature bottles) in its 12 Days of Rum calendar ($69.99). It’s such a fun and festive gift you may be tempted to order two — one for your friend or family member and one for yourself.