As we rapidly approach the holiday, a great idea for a gift or for your own cocktail library is a copy of “Spice & Ice” by Kara Newman, my guest on Episode 20. This is a great book if you like your cocktails a little on the spicy side – author of the High Spirits column for Chile Pepper magazine, Kara is the perfect coach for crafting beverages that bite. With suggestions for food pairings, facts about chile peppers, and tips on building a spicy liquor cabinet, Spice & Ice is a must-have for cocktail enthusiasts and chileheads! $11.45 on Amazon.
Find out more at www.karanewman.wordpress.com
Add to this a bottle of Cabana Cachaca…founder Matti Anttila was a guest on Episode 16. Cachaca is Brazil’s national spirit…Cabana has a delicate nose and a smooth finish, perfect in a caipirinha. It retails for approximately $35.
Find out more at www.cabanacachaca.com
Lastly, add a few flavors of The Perfect Puree’s Beverage Artistry line of mixers to the bag. Corporate Mixologist Dana Bruner was my guest on Episode 23.
The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley’s Beverage Artistry® capitalizes on the current trends in the beverage world, enabling even the most discerning beverage artist to exceed the limits of their palate imagination. Unique, balanced and iconic flavors provide a platform upon which creativity has no boundaries – every glass is a liquid canvas. Some of the flavors to try are El Corazon, Mojito, Rum Runner and White Sangria. $25.
Find out more at www.perfectpuree.com.
The gift ideas for Day 21 take us to one of my favorite places in Boston, Eastern Standard Kitchen in Kenmore Square. Just steps away from Fenway Park, it’s a great place to go before or after the game (or anytime, really!) Jackson Cannon, Bar Manager & Mixologist extraordinnaire, was my guest on Episode 28, and was so interesting & fun to speak with. A great gift would be a gift card to Eastern Standard Kitchen or their new sister restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar, which is right next door. The menu pays tribute to classic European and New England favorites, such as Veal Schnitzel, Beef Wellington and Mussels & Frites as well as a fantastic raw bar. Jackson has a great cocktail program going on in both places, as well as a fabulous reserve beer program at ICOB.
You can check them out at
I discovered St-Germain about two years ago, and still love it every time I taste it…especially the St-Germain Cocktail and Sangria Flora. I was so exited to have Founder & President of The Cooper Spirits Company, Rob Cooper, as my guest on Episode 30. The cocktail enthusaist in your life would love a bottle of St-Germain, or if you can find it, a St-Germain Carafe Set.
St-Germain is a beautifully crafted, French elderflower liqueur made from 100% fresh elderflowers from the foothills of the Alps. Only available in limited quantities, each bottle of St-Germain is numbered and marked with the vintage year reflecting the year in which the flowers were harvested. It can be enjoyed straight over ice but is ideal in cocktails as well as mixed with white or sparkling wine. The limited edition sets include a bottle of St-Germain, a Glass Carafe and Stirrer and a Cocktail Recipe Book.
Find out more at www.stgermain.fr
Day 20 takes us to one of my favorite Boston restaurants, L’Espalier…I was so happy to have Sommelier Kate Moore (a fellow BC grad) as a guest on Episode 24. L’Espalier is in the heart of the Back Bay, adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Under Chef, Proprietor, Author and now Farmer Frank McClelland’s stewardship, L’Espalier has consistently been rated at the top of national and local best restaurant lists (Zagat, Boston Magazine, Frommer’s Travel Guide, Wine Spectator, among them), serving sophisticated and modern New England-French cuisine, with an emphasis on artisanal and New England ingredients.
A great gift would be a gift card to L’Espalier (prices vary), so that the giftee can go to lunch, dinner or to one of Kate’s “Top Shelf” Cocktail classes…add to that a copy of Chef McClelland’s “Wine Mondays”, which features 130 recipes organized into four-course pairing menus by season, with accompanying wine notes and suggestions. All of the recipes come from the popular Wine Mondays program at L’Espalier—a weekly event created to make food and wine pairing accessible, fun, and affordable. ($24.95)
To that, add a gift set of wine from Jordan Vineyards. I’ve long been a Jordan fan, and was thrilled to have CEO John Jordan as my guest on Episode 26. Since their inaugural 1976 vintage, Jordan wines have been renowned for their consistency and elegance. Tucked into the hills in Alexander Valley, just north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, they are dedicated to winemaking, hospitality and the joys of the table.
A beautiful wooden box set of the 2008 Jordan Chardonnay & 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon would delight any wine lover on your list ($90). Include a beautiful Riedel Vinum Engraved Chardonnay ($24) or Bordeaux ($29) wine glass, so they can enjoy their gift in style.
Find out more at www.jordanwinery.com
Our gift selection for Day 19 takes us to two of our entrepreneurial guests: Ken Austin, Founder of Tequila Avion (Episode 22) and Scott Goldman, President of Cadre Noir, importers of Combier Liqueur d’Orange (Episode 17).
If you have someone on your list who loves a good margarita, this would be a fantastic gift basket! First, a bottle of Tequila Avion Anejo, which is produced with only the finest Blue Weber Agave found in the highest regions of Jalisco, Mexico. Made famous on the hit tv series “Entourage”, it’s now available in many states across the country.The Anejo, which is aged 2 years, has hints of vanilla, caramel, coconut and maple and fruity aromas of peach and cherry. It retails for approximately $50.
Find out more at www.tequilaavion.com
You can’t make a good margarita without triple sec, so add a bottle of Combier Liqueur d’Orange to the basket…created in 1834, Combier is the world’s first triple sec, made from sweet and bitter orange peels from the West Indies, local spices from the South, alcohol from the North, and family-secret ingredients from the Loire Valley. Combier uses all natural ingredients, it’s 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume) and it’s triple distilled. Each bottle of Combier is produced, packaged, and shipped from the same Loire Valley location where it’s been made since the 19th century. It retails for approximately $35.
Learn more at www.combierusa.com.
I have long been a fan of Chef Ming Tsai and his fabulous restaurant Blue Ginger, so I was thrilled when he was my guest on Episode 21 in October. A great gift idea for the home chef in your life is a copy of Ming’s latest book “Simply Ming One-Pot Meals“. As someone who loves to cook, but not clean up, this is ideal! The book has 80 one-pot recipes that can be created quickly and healthfully, with relatively inexpensive ingredients….many recipes can serve 4 people for under $20. Ming focuses on seven cooking methods: braise, wok, sauté, roast, high temp–which includes steaming and flash frying–soup, and toss. He offers preparation tips and drink suggestions, and each recipe is accompanied by a full-color photo.
List price is $29.95 ($19.77 on Amazon).
To this, add a gift card to Blue Ginger, his beautiful restaurant in Wellesley MA. Ming and his team create award-winning cuisine that harmoniously blends ingredients and techniques from the East and the West. The menu offers signature items including the Sake-Miso Marinated Alaskan Butterfish (my favorite) and the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster as well as seasonal dishes. All breads, crackers, ice creams and desserts are made in-house by the pastry department. Blue Ginger also has a beverage menu that really complements their East-West cuisine. Signature cocktails include the Blue Ginger Gimlet and the Golden Goose, a ginger-infused vodka martini, and they have an extensive wine cellar.
You can buy online at www.ming.com
Our Day 13 Gift Idea takes us to San Francisco, one of the cities that has been at the forefront of the resurgence of well-made, classic cocktails. Jeff Hollinger & Rob Schwartz, my guests on Episode 5, were part of that movement when they ran the bar at Absinthe. Their book “The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics” is loaded with beautiful photos and great drink recipes. It’s $16.47 on Amazon (list price $25).
To that, add a bottle of Square One Organic Vodka. Founder & CEO Allison Evanow, who is based in San Francisco, was my guest on Episode 11. Square One is a limited-production single grain vodka which uses certified organic American rye. It retails for approximately $35. You can find out more at
Day 10 is about one of our favorite mixologists – as a matter of fact he is known as The Modern Mixologist – Tony Abou-Ganim. Tony was a guest on Episode 15, and I had so much fun talking to him about his career, travels and wonderful cocktails he has created over the years.
A great gift for the cocktail person on your list would be a copy of Tony’s book, The Modern Mixologist ($35). Autographed copies are available if you order through his website.
To that, add one of his TAG Mojito Kits ($49), which includes one of the best juicers I have ever seen, a beautiful hand-crafted solid cherry wood muddler all tucked into a canvas Lewis bag, perfect for crushing ice.
If you’re feeling generous, also include a copy of Tony’s Modern Mixologist DVD ($19.95), all about creating perfect cocktails at home.
And, if you hurry, he also has embroidered cocktail napkins on sale for $2 for a set of 6 while they last!
You can find out more at www.themodernmixologist.com.