Holiday season divides us into two camps: party givers and partygoers. If you're the latter, you'll need to go bearing tidings of good cheer, potentially in the form of alcohol. Here's your bottle cheat sheet for whomever the lucky host may be.
For your BFF: RumChata ($20)
Creamy and mildly spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, this cream liqueur is a little like eggnog in a bottle. It's also relatively light on the alcohol, making for a gentle nightcap while you page through old yearbooks and reminisce over those awful hairdos.
For your hipster brother-in-law: Chief Gowanus New-Netherland Gin ($36)
This bottle is bursting with underground cred: Barrel-aged gin is trending but not yet completely mainstream, and this version is made by an artisan shop (New York Distilling Company) in Brooklyn. That it's delicious, with a vanilla-citrus-hops-juniper profile, is the icing on the glass.
For your status-conscious uncle: Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky ($68)
The whiskey world was shocked last month when whiskey expert Jim Murray named a Japanese whisky—not a Scotch—as his pick for the best whiskey in the world. He pointed to Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, but the fact of the matter is that you're not going to be able get your hands on that now-collector's-item bottle. But you can still scoop up the very worthwhile, buttery-soft 12-year-old single malt from the same producer.
For your in-laws: Marie Duffau Hors d'Age Armagnac ($50)
Similar to cognac but much better value, Gascony's Armagnac shows that you're a class act. This particular French brandy is complex, fruity and spiced, making it an ideal dessert pairing. If you really want to impress, be sure to learn how to remove the hard wax that encases the stopper before you arrive.
For your boss: Blanton's Single-Barrel Bourbon Whiskey ($55)
Scotch is a traditionally impressive choice, but gifting bourbon will set you apart. This well-structured whiskey features lots of warm caramel accented with orange peel and baking spice notes. The trademark round, faceted bottle with the horse-topped cork looks luxe and gift worthy, but it's not so pricey that the boss will wonder if you're getting paid too much.
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