If there was ever a time during which many of us could use a good stiff drink, these past couple years have been it. So why not consider one of these boozy gifts for your beloved this holiday season?
And, of course, please drink responsibly.
I believe Santa said it best, when he raised a glass of rum-enhanced nog and, with a deep chuckle, bellowed, "414 let's have one more!"
Eagle Park & MKE Distilling gift boxes
The Muskego-based distillery is making things easy by organizing a quartet of gift boxes, each featuring three bottles of spirits. A trio of Eagle Park core spirits (vodka, gin and house bourbon) is $26; three MKE brandies (brandy, ginger brandy, blackberry brandy) is $57; the Eagle Park Cheesecake Cream Liqueurs (vanilla, mint and strawberry) is $75 and three Eagle Park bourbons (house, single-barrel and Port cask finish) runs $140. Prices are 10 percent off the retail price of the three bottles in the set. Visit eagleparkdistilling.com.
Great Lakes Distillery Still & Oak Black Friday Bourbon Whiskey
Here's a twist. On a day when so many breweries are releasing beers aged in whiskey barrels, Great Lakes Distillery is releasing bourbon aged in beer barrels!
At noon, Still & Oak Black Friday Bourbon Whiskey ($79) goes on sale. This 90 proof bourbon was aged more than two years in new white oak barrels and then spent another two years aging in Lakefront Brewery’s Black Friday Imperial Stout barrels. How can you resist?
When I see a tartan-clad piper and the word “highland” on a bottle, I rarely think of gin, but Tulchan ($40) is a just that: a Speyside gin. And if you close your eyes and enjoy the aromas, you just might feel transported to the Highlands, because this London Dry gin is rich in pine and juniper, but with a nice burst of citrus for brightness, a bit of liquorice spice and a nice botanical complexity.
Yeoman Vodka & Maple Vodka
These Wisconsin vodkas – like the Speyside gin – are reflective of their birthplace. Perlick Distillery is located in Sarona, north of Eau Claire, and these are farm vodkas, made by a family that’s been farming in the Northwoods since 1920.
The family farm has more than 2,000 acres of corn, wheat, soybeans, barley, sunflowers and other crops, and the American Yeoman Vodka ($30) is made from 100 percent wheat grown there.
American Yeoman Maple Syrup Flavored Vodka ($30) adds maple flavor from Grade A maple syrup from Compass Farms. In Ogema, north of Wausau. Not generally a big fan of flavored vodkas, this one is a great way to add an autumn Badger State sweetness to a cocktail.
Heads up, Drink Local fans, although Yeoman’s last batch of five-year American single malt whiskey is sold out, a new batch is expected to be released around Nov. 30.
World Whiskey Collection whiskey
You can join the World Whiskey Club, which creates a wide range of unique and interesting whiskey expressions from around the world, to get first shot at these spirits, but you can also just head to the website and order.
At the site, you’ll find a wide range and I tried the 6-year-old Doc Holliday and the 10-year-old Classic Collection bourbon wheated edition, aged in Port barrels. Both of these are now sold out, but a number other expressions of these labels are currently available. In fact, the three current Doc Hollidays (7-, 8- and 10-year-old) grabbed medals at the American Distilig Institute’s 2023 International Spirits Competition.
The Doc I tasted ($89) was distilled in Indiana with 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye an 4 percent barley and was bottled at 118 proof from a run of 210 bottles from a single barrel and it was definitely a unique pour, that’s rich in woody and earthy tobacco that smooths out into mellower blend of vanilla and dried fruits before closing with a touch of baking spice.
Meanwhile, the single-barrel Classic Collection 10-year aged in Port barrels ($164) was a knockout with a bright fruity aroma, really complex flavors on the palate – everything from blueberries and red fruit to caramel and nuttiness and baking spices. This one – distilled from ââ 51 percent corn, 45 percent wheat and 4 percent barley – was limited to 620 bottles.
The Tap Yard’s 12 Beers of Christmas
The Milwaukee-area beer garden specialists, The Tap Yard, have brought back their popular 12 Beers of Christmas Box, which for $50 you will get 12 craft beers, selected by The Tap Yard team.
That includes two barrel-aged beers, six seasonal/Christmas beers, two IPAs, a fruited beer and a Belgian.
The boxes are extremely limited, so order now, and pickup Dec. 12-14 from 3 to 8 p.m. at The Tap Yard in Milwaukee at Schlitz Park! You can also opt to have the box hand-delivered Dec. 18 or 19th.
More at the website.
Black Friday beer
As always, Black Friday brings tons of limited and rare beers that make great gifts. You can see what's on offer from Milwaukee area breweries here.
2020 Dogajolo Toscano Rosso IGT & 2022 Dogajolo Toscano Bianco IGT
This palate- and wallet-friendly Tuscan red blend celebrates its 30th birthday this year and with its fruit nose, hint of space and $15 price tag, it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s 80 percent sangiovese and 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, and has notes of cherry, vanilla and coffee.
Meanwhile, Carpineto’s medium-bodied Dogajolo Tuscan white is 40 percent chardonnay and 30 percent each of sauvignon blanc and the less-often-ssen grechetto is perfect for the holiday table, with its clean, citrus notes a perfect match for chicken or turkey or whatever you’re serving. Also $15.
Coto de Imaz Reserva & Gran Reserva
Two 100 percent tempranillo gems from Spain’s Rioja region are made for hearty autumn and winter meals – roasted meats, big stews and the like. The Riserva ($23) gains some complexity from its 18 years in oak and has ripe fruit with notes of chocolate and a hint of coffee, plus a nice acidity.
Meanwhile, the Gran Riserva ($37) aged two full years in oak and rested 36 months in the bottle for an aroma bomb that’s matched in the glass with a smooth body, rich red fruit, balanced tannins and a strong finish.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.