The West Coast is a hot spot for finding exceptional boozy gifts with sparkle, style and plenty of charm.
‘Tis the season for gift guides and end-of-year lists. I am piling on with my own guide to the best bubbles, cocktails and spirit-forward beverages that can be delivered or hand-carried to someone’s door. I could not sample every item on this list (noted below), but have tasted most. While my palate is not the same as yours, I stand behind my picks as delicious and exciting options to gift to anyone on your list.
Seven Boozy Gifts
My holiday season is not complete without at least a few opportunities to crack open some bubbly. Napa’s Peju pulled together one bottle of Blanc de Blancs (notes of green apple and pear) and two bottles of Brut Rosé (cantaloupe, white peach), both made with grapes sourced from California’s North Coast region. Soft bubbles make for a long finish. The kicker is the stunning box it arrives in – a black and gold number that pushes the gift from a “10” to “11” and we all know what that means. $185
Finely built and ready-made cocktails from Portland, Oregon-based cocktail builders take the stress out of managing the bar at your next party. The updated flavors in the Holiday Six-Pack pairs three classic cocktails – Seasonal Maple Old Fashioned, Negroni, Margarita and the Cosmos (a Cosmopolitan disguised with citrus and cranberry) – with “discovery cocktails” – Lintik (slightly sweet lemony gin concoction) and The Swizzle (a Caribbean concoction of rum, passion fruit and falernum). All you need to add is a bucket of ice and some lime wedges. $84.95
I admit that I am a sucker for anything grown in Napa’s Stag’s Leap AVA and the Baldaccis have 17 acres there, planted mostly to the region’s most famous grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermented in small individual lots from 100% estate-grown grapes, the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 expresses a natural richness from the grape’s long hang time, balanced acidity and structure from medium-toast French oak, and smooth tannins. It slides across the palate with flavors of strawberry and plum and finishes strong. It’s an intense wine with the ability to age or drink now to honor the turning of the seasons. $110
There is something undeniably wintery about sipping a glass of port by a roaring fire. Perhaps it’s the deep cherry, honeyed character of Imagery’s Sonoma County Port that makes it the perfect tipple for a chilly evening. The chocolate notes on the finish make this drink a fine alternative – or partner to – chocolate. Savor the balancing act the winemaker must make to amplify the best character of both the fermented juice and the brandy which fortifies the wine, resulting in an exceptionally flavorful after-dinner drink. $29 for 375 ml
5. Loco Tequila
The new kid on the tequila block launched in December, 2019, arriving in Northern California in the fall of 2022, steadily building a following for their “terroir” tequilas – all agave is grown in the El Arenal region of Jalisco, Mexico. Hand-trimmed and pressed in small batches utilizing traditional processes on a 250 year-old hacienda, La Providencia, this tequila is full of olefactory promise that continues on the palate. Purists will want to start with the Blanco (vegetal, full on the palate) before sampling the Puro Corazón (fresh aromas, incredibly smooth) or the Ámbar, Loco’s reposado entrant which immediately reminded of me of Cognac with a freshness distinctive to Jalisco’s signature spirit. 750 ml. $135 / Blanco; $349 / Puro Corazón; $199 Ámbar Reposado.
The Italians are moving into the ready-to-drink cocktail space, launching a collection of more than a dozen classic and modern cocktails in single-serve packets. Curated by Patrick Pistolesi, an Italian master mixologist whose Rome bar Drink Kong ranks #16 in among The World’s Top 50 Best Bars, the box offers a choice of flavors such as a classic Negroni featuring Campari and Tanqueray Gin, a Manhattan made with Bulleit Bourbon and Cocchi Vermouth, and an Espresso Martini fueled with Kettle One and coffee, plus two glass tumblers and an extra-large ice cube tray. $99
*This vendor may only ship to California addresses.
I am a Coombsville convert, drawn to the soft, approachable tannins and flavors of blueberry and violet that are cabernet sauvignon signatures of Napa’s most southerly AVA. The 2019 is made of grapes sourced entirely from Coombsville and lives up to the region’s flavor reputation by delivering blueberry and violet on the palate along with flavors of crushed minerals. The tannins are especially velvety and the finish lingers. Faust recommends laying this wine down, but every bottle is ready to enjoy when it arrives at your door. $135 for 750 ml
*A sample of this product was not available.