Gifts for the Wine and Cocktail Lovers

For the person in your life who loves a good bottle of wine or cocktails, here is my list of wines and libations that he or she would like to add in their collection or for consumption. (Like my Holiday Food Gifts editorial, this list would expand as we near the holidays.)

To see the list of brands, tasting notes, and where to get these alcoholic beverages, please read on after the jump.

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Vieux Carré Absinthe
This clear, glowing green-yellow (almost chartreuse) colored spirit is complex and very aromatic bouquet (of anise, herbs and citrus) when you take a whiff. It is extremely boozy but offers surprising depth of bittersweet anise character when you take a sip of it neat. This route is not suggested since it’s very potent at 120 proof.

When sipped in the traditional French preparation, absinthe is extremely easy-drinking and very pleasant, a licorice kick with gentle sweetness and a bittersweet finish.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Champagne & Sparkling Wines

Bollinger Champagne
This non-vintage Special Cuvée is the expression of the Bollinger style. This classic Champagne blend uses grapes from a given year, with the addition of reserve wines. Champagne author Tom Stevenson describes the house style as “classic, Pinot-dominated Champagnes of great potential longevity and complexity” which “tends to go toasty.”
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits and Sherry-Lehman.

G.H. Mumm: Mumm de Cremant
This style of Champagne from Mumm (known for many years as Crémant de Cramant because it was bottled at a slightly lower pressure) is a celebration of grand cru Chardonnay in Cramant. It is a finely structured, relatively full-bodied wine, showing toast and butter flavors along with notes of citrus and apple.
Available in the NYC area at Sherry-Lehman.

Iron Horse Vineyards: 2005 Brut Rosé & 2006 Wedding Cuvée
The Brut Rosé is surprisingly dry. This is heavy, a bit toasty with some raspberry flavors – totally full flavored but a nicely balanced body. A touch of vanilla, even a bit of peach, a nice zip of acid, and even some rather firmly developed tannic structure. This would be great with lobster and possibly steak, as rosé wines tend to be versatile as they are blended wines.

The Wedding Cuvée has a rich and creamy texture on the palate with lots of apple-y and yeasty flavors that are persistent from the start through the long finish. Very easy to drink.
Available in the NYC area at Sherry-Lehman.

Lucien Albrecht Cremant Brut Rosé
Lucien Albrecht’s brut rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes whose skins impart the beautiful pink color in this wine. A perfect alternative to Champagne, this wine is fruity (strawberries and red fruits) and creamy on the palate, with the Pinot grape coming through on the finish with nice mineral flavors and a little bitterness that reminds you this is a rosé but not the usual of the mill sparkling wine. This is one of the affordable sparkling rosés that you can enjoy.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Mionetto Prosecco
This sparkling wine is fruity; reminiscent of pear and citrus with a slightly floral bouquet. The wine is fresh, crisp with delicate bubbles making it easy to drink with any light meal or with hors d’oeuvres.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Perrier-Jouët Rosé Champagne & Fleur de Champagne 2002
These elegant bottles from Perrier-Jouët are not just beautiful but they are also delicious and appropriate for a lavish shindig or special occasion. The 2002 Rosé is medium-bodied, fruity with lush berry notes and youthful. The 2002 Fleur de Champagne is subtle and creamy, with peach and apple flavors shaded by grapefruit and yeast accents.
The 2002 Vintages for the Rosé and Fleur de Champagne are available in the NYC area at Sherry-Lehman.

Schramsberg Vineyards: 2007 Blanc de Blancs, 2006 Crémant Demi-sec & Mirabelle Brut Rosé
Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay is the counterpart to the Blanc de Noirs (white from black), made from Pinot Noir. The wine is dry and crisp with flavors of green apple and lemon.

Crémant Demi-sec is a delicate, off-dry sparkling wine. Crémant is French for “creamy” and traditionally refers to a wine with light effervescence. It has spicy, floral aromatics, and apricot and peach flavors that will gently caramelize with further aging in the bottle. The sweetness is subtle so this wine pairs well with fruit desserts, or even pairs well with savory food.

Mirabelle Brut Rosé is a beautiful, elegant rosé sparkling wine. It’s crisp and clean flavors of raspberry and vanilla with a hint of toast.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits and Sherry-Lehman.

Valdo Spumanti Prosecco
The nose of this Prosecco is delicate, but it shows pear and yellow delicious apple aromas. There’s also a light, floral scent. The yeast is subtle. The palate has a nice pear flavor up front, accompanied by a less prominent apple flavor. The mid-palate brings crisp acidity and some yeast flavor, which carries into the finish along with pear and mineral flavors.


Beringer Vineyards 2008 Private Reserve Chardonnay
This rich, balanced by a bright citrus note wine is wonderful. A sweet oak-y note weaves together the many layers of aroma and flavor, carrying through to the finish.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits (on the vineyards’ site, it is currently sold out for this vintage)

Sbragia 2008 Gamble Ranch Chardonay
Gamble Ranch Chardonnay is a rich, luscious wine from the first aromas of citrus, apple and sweet vanilla. Its ripe fruit and citrus flavors are layered with hints of baking spices and stone fruit, ending with a layered, supple finish.


Bluecoat Gin
This American dry gin is distilled from Philadelphia Distilling. There aren’t that many American gin makers as gin is usually made in London. There’s a strong and surprising mint character, something a bit unusual in a gin. Then there’s a moderately strong flavor of citrus, and the juniper taste that lingers without overpowering the palate. It’s distilled five times in a custom copper pot and bottled at a whopping 94 proof (most gins are 80 proof), Bluecoat is quite clean and not as fiery as its alcohol content might indicate. It’s a very good gin.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits


Benedictine Limited Edition
Benedectine is a liqueur I encountered when I went to StarChefs’ ICC workshop back in September with PDT’s Jim Meehan. This herbaceous liqueur originated from a Benedictine monk in Fécamp, Normandy in 1510. This potent but does mix well because of its 27 herbs and spices infused in their secret recipe. This particular exclusive, Limited Edition bottle pays tribute to the original creator, Dom Bernardo Vincelli and its 500th year anniversary.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits and Sherry-Lehman.

Caravella Limoncello
Caravella is a premium limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur from Italy. People familiar with limoncello are likely to have first tasted it as a digestivo, served ice cold, perhaps at an Italian restaurant. This lemon-y liqueur would transport you to Italy or make you think it’s spring or summer.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Chambord Liqueur
This French liqueur from the Loire Valley has an intense flavor of black-raspberries, fruits, herbs and honey in a Cognac and other French spirits base. The taste is sweet, and it has a beautiful ruby red color. Chambord is the elegant and purple star of a number of popular cocktails, including the French Martini .
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Godiva Chocolate Liqueurs
Their name is synonymous with chocolate and taken that expertise to a line of creamy Liqueurs that are truly indulgent. The Original Chocolate Liqueur features the velvety smooth taste of pure Godiva Chocolate. They also blend flavors to create three other unique flavors: White Chocolate. Mocha, and Caramel.

Recently, Godiva introduced Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodkas. A balance of five-times distilled vodka infused with chocolate for a smooth, luxurious taste with a chocolate kick.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

This well known Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur is dense and sweet, with a distinct taste of coffee, from which it is made. It’s great for mixing cocktails, if you want that coffee flavor like an espresso martini or the White Russian.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Beautiful light yellow gold color with a viscous, rich taste and mouthfeel of sweetness, spice and velvet but without the cloying stickiness of many lesser liqueurs on the market. Candied grapefruit slices with grenadine, pineapple notes- slight nip at the end and a lingering finish of fruits.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Veev Açai Liqueur
VeeV is an exceptional liqueur; not too sweet, yet engaging enough on the palate to quash the need for sweetener if one chooses to consume it straight. Açai, the exotic Brazilian berry taking the health and food world by storm, is said to be one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. VeeV is a wheat based spirit infused with Acai that includes the flavors of prickly pear and acerola cherry. This liqueur would be great straight up or mixed with other spirits.
Available in the NYC area at Sherry-Lehman.


Fritz Haag 2008 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese & 2009 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
The Juffer Sonnenuhr estate of Fritz Haag is the most prized area, producing their most flavored wines. The Auslese wine is a concentrated, pure, intense style, flavors of peach, apricot and apple that lingers on the palate. Spätlese Again a pure, defined, lifted and very direct style. It is delicious, textured and yet finely balanced with a touch of acid in the background.
Available in the NYC area at Sherry-Lehman.


Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum
The rum is light-bodied and has a very pleasant mouth-feel. It is slightly sweet, with notes of vanilla, oak, and fruit in the beginning; then finish is warm and clean. This is a rum that can easily be sipped.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

El Dorado Rum
Mixed entry, first sweet then drying. Grassy/cane,mineral notes, with creamy, burnt vanilla notes. Medium bodied, nice long finish. A very good and complex rum for your money.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Kraken Spiced Rum
This rum is dark, molassy, herbaceous and spicy that is destined to be in a Dark & Stormy cocktail (I made it with Reed’s Ginger beer and it was quite a kicker). It’s a lot darker and richer than a Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry spiced rum. This rum may be consumed neat or on the rocks, too.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits

Malibu Caribbean Rum with Coconut Liqueur
This rum made in Barbados with natural coconut extract. The alcohol content by volume is 21.0% (42 proof). It works wonders for your Piña Colada, giving it an extra kick of coconut and subtle sweetness into your cocktail.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits


Don Eduardo Tequila
This Tequila is uniquely rested for six months in White American oak barrels to produce a mellow flavor. This tequila is particularly fresh, with light floral and fruity undertones on the nose. On the tongue, it is especially smooth and fruity, with only a hint of spice. The finish is long, with a surprising lack of heat common to most tequilas. A wonderful expression quickly growing in garnering attention from the experts for its ultra-premium quality and smoothness.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits and online at Beer Liquors.com


Tito’s Handmade Vodka
This vodka is produced in Austin, Texas. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is made from yellow corn, instead of the more commonly used wheat or potatoes, resulting in a mildly sweet aftertaste, and is distilled six times. This vodka was straightforward and mostly prevalent on the front of the tongue, with of a woody or herbal back end. Very clean, very pure, very tasty.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits


Martini Rosato
The rosato style vermouth is floral and sweet up front with flavors of strawberry and meyer lemon, while bitter grapefruit, lemon peel and dried herbs emerge on the finish. It’s refreshing on the rocks with a twist of lemon or combined with Cava or Prosecco for a bubbly cocktail.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits.

Noilly Prat
Widely used in the cocktail culture, the Noilly Pratt is one of the paramount brands in vermouth. This French-style vermouth is dry and straw-hued and flavored by aging similar to the way wine does. It’s also great by itself as an apertif.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits and Sherry-Lehman.


Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey
This is the more flavorful, darker and robust of the entire Jack Daniel’s line (this is considered a super premium whiskey). Six to seven year in the barrel left it a deep copper-red color. In the mouth it was much more intense, and far fuller in flavor. Do note that each bottle Single Barrel comes from a different single barrels, so every bottle could have a different expression of flavors.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits


Angostura Bitters
This is a standard bitters for the cocktailian lover. Angostura is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, gentian root, and vegetable flavoring extracts by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. A few dashes can go a long way for drinks and you can make a variety of drinks with them from a gentleman’s (almost) non-alcoholic cocktail Lime Rickey to a fine Manhattan.
Available in the NYC area at Astor Wine & Spirits


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.