Top Gifts for the Discriminating Drinker

  • Top Gifts for the Discriminating Drinker
    Photos by Caitlin Abrams
  • New Richmond Rye

    New Richmond Rye

    45th Parallel’s New Richmond Rye isn’t just the first locally grown and distilled rye, it’s also a gorgeous beast: silky and nervy, made from grains grown locally and distilled on-site. And since it’s only available at the distillery and in Twin Cities stores, it's perfect for the far-flung connoisseur on your list. Available at: South Lyndale Liquors and 45th Parallel.
  • Jack Rudy Tonic Concentrate

    Jack Rudy Tonic Concentrate

    Why would you want to buy tonic concentrate . . . that has no bubbles? For one thing, it allows you to make fancy cocktails sans bubbles—like a gin and tonic flavored martini! For another, it allows you to experiment with different mineral waters to get different flavors. Finally, it’s a boon to people with Soda Streams. Available at: Surdyk's.
  • Golden Fig Autumn Elixir

    Golden Fig Autumn Elixer

    Every holiday season, Golden Fig bottles the Autumn Elixer, a drink base that unites fresh lemon juice with a little sweetness and a lot of pie-spices (ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom). Use in a martini glass with vodka for a fancy holiday lemon drop; combine with seltzer for a nice non-alcoholic tipple; or warm into a very restorative hot toddy with rum. Available at: Golden Fig Fine Foods.
  • Dashfire Vintage Orange No. 1 Bitters

    Dashfire Vintage Orange No. 1 Bitters

    Lee Egbert is a tinkerer and flavor-obsessive extraordinaire. One day he noticed he couldn’t find a bitters which tasted really, truly like oranges. So he created Dashfire Vintage Orange No. 1, an inconceivably vivid rendering of orange flavors that is perfect for every Old Fashioned-lover on your list. Available at: France 44, Potters’ Pasties, and other local liquor stores.
  • Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries

    Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries

    Here’s a luxurious stocking-stuffer for the Manhattan (or Shirley Temple) lover in your life: Real Italian Marasca cherries in syrup. These aren’t any old Maraschino cherries; they’re tangy, deeply flavored, winey, rich, and chocolaty. And the syrup! Save it for soaking into chocolate cake, or drizzle over ice-cream. Available at: Surdyk's.
  • Easy & Oskey Make Your Own Bitters Kit

    Dan Oskey and Eric Eastman's recently launched company sells kits to make your own bitters, including a "naked" kit for creating any flavor you can imagine. Pizza bitters? Pickle bitters? You decide! Available at: Kitchen in the Market, Cooks of Crocus Hill, and more.
  • Bad Medicine Gin

    Minnesota’s first official craft-distilled gin has just been released! True, you might have to drive to an Alexandria-area liquor store to get a bottle, but you’re guaranteed that the Tom Collins-lover in your life doesn’t already have this. For availability: Contact Panther Distillery.
  • Ratafia, by Alexis Bailly

    Orange, spiced, and everything nice, this fortified wine from Hastings, Minnesota is one of the most distinctive and accomplished of American aperitifs. Try it with a splash of orange and soda for a wintery low-alcohol warmer, or straight-up with an aged cheese such as Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese. Available at Haskell's and other area liquor stores.
  • Prairie Cucumber-Flavored Organic Vodka

    Last summer, all the fancy bars in the Twin Cities offered cucumber-lemonade vodka drinks. Did you think all those bartenders were fancily peeling cucumbers all summer? They were not! They were getting Prairie Cucumber Organic Vodka off the shelf because, well, it’s a great idea. It's brisk and snappy and fantastic in all sorts of applications, from Bloody Marys to sparkling lemonade. Available at: all major Twin Cities liquor stores.
  • Bittercube Variety Pack

    Got a bartender on your list ready for a professional set-up? Nothing better than a set of Bittercube Bitters. Use Blackstrap for hot toddies, Cherry Bark Vanilla for Manhattans, and Bolivar for Champagne Cocktails. The other three? It’s up to you. Available at: Surdyk's, Zipp's, and other local liquor stores.

You’re not going to go to that fancy cocktail party empty-handed, are you? Not with all the snazzy new  bar options out there, you’re not. Click through to see Dara's best bets for even the toughest-to-please connoisseurs and hosts (and their super best friends).