The holidays are upon us, and that means more parties, lots of gifting and plenty of food and drink to go around. Sure, your family and friends may have their go-to wines and cocktails that grace every holiday table, but why not spice up the season with some new, enticing specialties? Whether you’re looking for the perfect present for that sophisticated palate, finding a great new cocktail for your guests, or just want to update your bar after your relatives empty your reserve, check out what we’re serving our guests this month. edited by Erica Bauwens
1. Nice. Cookies for Santa are a thing of the past. Leave the man what he really wants, like a bottle of this red ale from Rogue out of Oregon. This award-winning brewery serves up twice the hops, alongside roasted malts with hints of vanilla, brown sugar and citrus.
Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve Ale, $5.99 for a 650 ML bottle at Roger Wilco Discount Liquor, Pennsauken
2. Naughty. Locavores and whiskey aficionados will love this 13-year-old straight rye, made right across the bridge in Philadelphia. It’s one of the newest whiskeys to earn a national reputation, thanks in part to its extra-long maturation period, which only intensifies the caramel, American oak and roasted honey notes.
Lock, Stock & Barrel 13 Year Aged Rye, $119.99 at Canal’s, Mount Ephraim
3. Bubbly. Coming straight from the Champagne area of France, the Billecart-Salmon champagne house is one of the last surviving family-owned champagne houses in the world. And the family’s attention to tradition and detail shines in their rosé, which has a crisp, dry flavor with notes of berries and spice.
Brut Rosé Champagne by Billecart-Salmon, $79.99 at Traino’s Wine & Spirits, Marlton
4. Nice and Warm.
This year’s new trend among oenophiles is mulled wine, the
European tradition of adding spices like cinnamon and cloves and fruit to warmed red wines to create a robust new drink. Sharrott makes the mulling process easy for you, by adding their own blend of spices with sweet red wine. All you have to do is warm and enjoy.
Sharrott Winery’s Winter Spice Wine, $13.99 at Sharrott Winery, Winslow
5. The Season of Smooth. Gifting a bottle of this age-old classic is like giving someone a trip to the foggy moors of Scotland, minus the TSA checkpoints and all that pesky packing. You can serve it neat, or add ice to really
experience this tipple’s smoky, floral complexities.
Glenlivet Single Malt 12 year, $39.98 at Hops and Grapes, Glassboro
6. Frosty. Victory Brewing Company’s newest brew comes just in time for the holidays. The Pennsylvania brewery channeled the chill in the air to produce a new and memorable winter wheat ale. The light ale pairs well with heavier foods, while the beer’s citrus and clove flavors add their own unique taste when sipped solo.
Victory Brewing Company Winter Cheers Wheat Ale, $8.49 for a six pack at Wegmans, Mount Laurel
7. Cheers to 2014. Ring in the New Year with a truly special bottle of champagne, like Perrier-Jouet’s hard-to-find 2004 vintage. This beautiful bottle, once known as “Fleur de Champagne,” comes in a special celebratory set, also featuring two matching champagne flutes for sharing.
Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2004 Bicentenary Glass Pack, $172 at Wine Legend, Cherry Hill
8. Shore Thing. Beach-lovers know that the Jersey Shore is the best winter escape when you’re looking for some peace and quiet amid the holiday madness. Brewed out of Point Pleasant, this Jersey Shore black lager channels all that we love about winter beach getaways, with roasted malts that provide a toasty feeling and a hint of chocolate to add to the richness.
Beach Haus Winter Rental, $9.99 for a six pack at Total Wine, Cherry Hill
9. Wrapped in Red. Landisville’s Bellview Winery creates a whole line of winter wonder-wines for the holidays. Our favorite is their Merry Christmas Red, which blends Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with several other red varieties to produce a bottle that’s great for gifting. Serve it up with your feast of the seven fishes or as a sweet ending to any meal. Bellview Winery Merry Christmas Red, $9.99 at Wineworks, Marlton
10. Ultimate Elegance. The Chivas Brothers distillery of Scotland blends only the best scotches, then ages their bottle 21 years for maximum flavor. And this bottle gets the royal treatment, as it comes boxed and wrapped in a blue satin bag with gold rope drawstrings. It’s a beautiful gift to give or, if you’re like us, add to your wish list.
Royal Salute 21-year Blended Scotch Whisky, $179.99 at Joe Canal’s, Marlton
11. That’s the Spirit. It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little bit of evergreen in the air, or in your drink. A dirty martini never fails to impress guests, but try mixing this aromatic Scottish variety of gin with some more unusual seasonal ingredients, like fresh pomegranate juice or muddled tarragon, to really wow the crowd.
Hendrick’s Gin, $38.99 at Martin’s Liquors, Mount Laurel
12. Toasting. This isn’t your typical whiskey; in fact it’s a blend created by Jack Daniel’s just for the season. The makers of this whiskey-apple liqueur blend suggest serving it warmed, to release the flavors of apple cider, vanilla and orange peel, as well as the aromatics of clove, toasted oak barrels and cinnamon. Is there a better way to beat winter’s chill?
Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack, $20 at Liquor Mart, Logan
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 9 December, 2013).
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