It’s the most wonderful time of year—for the most part, that is. If you’ve spent the past few months perseverating about how to check off all of the gifts on your “must buy” holiday list, allow me to let you in on a secret: Alcohol makes a great gift. But, rather than cop out with a bottle of wine hastily wrapped in metallic paper at your local liquor store (you know who you are, gift-givers), consider creating a DIY alcohol kit.
For those with a sweet tooth, you can create a customized spiked hot chocolate gift bag, using grocery store ingredients and one decent bottle of alcohol.
Sift together 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, ¾ cup good ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper; stir to combine. Pour the dry mixture into a large mason jar with a secure lid, and top with a layer of mini marshmallows.
Arrange the jar in a basket with two mugs and a bottle of either Sag Harbor Rum or Montauk Hard Label Original Whiskey for a fun, festive gift.
For a more traditional take on the holiday, an aged eggnog might do the trick. Chilling eggnog for three weeks kills dangerous bacteria and helps to concentrate flavors—and it makes for an excellent gift.
Combine a dozen whole large eggs and 18 ounces of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until smooth. Whisk in two cups of Montauk Hard Label Original Whiskey, along with one-third cup of Sag Harbor Rum. Stir in a pinch of salt and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, and strain into a quart-sized, sanitized glass jar with a secure lid.
Refrigerate the mixture for three weeks before gifting it, along with a nice set of tumblers and instructions for serving. (For every glass of eggnog, combine 2¾ ounces of the base with 1¼ ounces of milk and ¼ ounce of heavy cream in a shaker filled with ice, and shake until frothy.) The base can survive for up to two years in the refrigerator.
Not everyone prefers something sweet at the holidays, of course, and that’s fine, too. Consider a martini kit for the hard liquor lover in your life.
Long Island Spirits produces a fine vodka—the LiV Original—as well as an aromatic gin, Deepwells, depending on his or her pleasure. Send it along with a bottle of Channing Daughters’ Vervino Vermouth and a jar of citrus-cured olives from Bridgehampton’s L&W Market, and you’ve got the makings for the perfect classic cocktail. Wrap it all up with a set of crystal martini glasses, and you have the perfect holiday gift.
For something a little more festive, there’s always the Bellini. Traditionally a mix of sparkling wine and fruit purée, this is a chance to get creative.
A bottle of the 2014 Noblesse Oblige from Wölffer Estate Vineyard is the perfect bubbly base for this cocktail. But what to add to it? At Balsam Farms’ farm stand in Montauk, which is open through December, pick up tiny seckel pears. Toss the cored, halved pears with a few tablespoons of granulated sugar, and cover them in dabs of butter, then put them in a 375-degree oven, suspended in ¼ cup water, for 30 minutes to roast.
Once the pears have cooled, purée them in a blender and then pass them through a fine mesh sieve in order to achieve a smooth purée. The purée can be stored in a hinged mason jar—send a small spoon along with your gift package to facilitate assembly. And don’t forget the Champagne flutes, of course—although a nice stemless glass is another great option for this particular cocktail.
Hildreth’s Home Goods, with outposts both in East Hampton and Southampton, sells an array of glassware perfect for gifting. The Hamptons tumbler, a charming glass with a vibrant map of the Hamptons on the front, is a good match for the aged eggnog. Le Creuset mugs, available in red, white, blue and teal, are substantial enough for that hot chocolate.
In Bridgehampton, at the Loaves & Fishes Cookshop, you’ll find glass and crystal stemware—Spiegelau, William Yeoward, Simon Pierce, Riedel, Match, and glassware from New York artisans, too—for anything else your heart desires.
So embrace the season. A little effort can go a long way.
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