One of the best resources for a last-minute gift is your local liquor store. A great bottle of Scotch or bourbon is a classic gift for nearly anyone who enjoys a glass of whiskey. But what if your intended recipient already has a well-stocked liquor cabinet, or your budget doesn't extend to Macallan 18?
Here are 10 more offbeat or specialty bottles from the liquor store that cocktail drinkers covet and would enjoy, but may not buy for themselves.
A note on sourcing: We sourced all of these products at a few large online liquor retailers, but it's very likely that they can be found for less money (and no shipping) at a liquor store near you.
- Cappelletti, $19 at Astor Wines: An amaro alternative to Campari, this bright liqueur is made in Alto-Adige and is described as "tangy, aromatic, and easygoing." Megan talks here about why she loves it even more than Campari.
- Kiuchi No Shizuku Hitachino Nest Distilled White Ale, $18 at DrinkUpNY: Now here's something unusual: a bottle for your beer-conoisseur friend. This Japanese ale is distilled and infused with coriander, hops, and orange peel, and aged in oak barrels. It's a mellow and slightly sweet liqueur, with wonderful notes from the spices and citrus.
- Gran Classico, $33 at DrinkUpNY: We're highlighting not one but two Campari alternatives in this list, thanks to the resurgence of the Negroni and the Spritz. Gran Classico (read more about it here) is richer and more complex than contemporary Campari; some say that this is closer to Campari's original formula. Its rounded bitterness brings so much depth to a simple Negroni.
- St. Germain Liqueur, $35 at DrinkUpNY: This bottle certainly doesn't qualify in the offbeat category; its tangy, floral sweetness has made it a darling of specialty cocktails for some years now. The glamorous bottle makes it a terrific gift. If you're feeling extra generous, gift with a bottle of bubbly and suggest this cocktail.
- Destillerie Purkhart "Nux Alpina" Walnut Liqueur, $27 at DrinkUpNY: I love old-fashioned walnut liqueur, and this Austrian bottle does it right, with sultry notes of spice and clean, herbal tastes of walnut. Not too sweet, and just right for a bedtime nightcap.
- Carpano Antica, $29 at K&L Wines: This incredibly delicious vermouth is just as good for sipping as it is in a Negroni. (It also comes in a half-bottle size that makes a very nice gift.) Also check out Carpano's newer white vermouth.
- OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka, $30 at Andrew's Wine Cellar: Here's a local-to-me liquor that I think everyone should know: a smooth and unusual vodka, made with Ohio wheat, infused with honey and vanilla. It's a delicious winter sip, and while we usually drink it alone, it also makes a stunning Moscow Mule.
- Hudson Maple Cask Rye, $40 at Arlington Wine & Liquor: An offbeat rye that's been finished in maple syrup-cured whiskey barrels. A collectible item for the rye (or maple syrup!) lover in your life.
- Benedictine Liqueur, $32 at Argonaut Wine & Liquor: Benedictine is a classic bottle, made with a secret blend of herbs, and called for in many old-school cocktails (it's also an essential ingredient in our Hot Cranberry Punch with Sage & Peppercorns), but I also like to sip it straight as an after-dinner digestif. A gift of this non-essential but very welcome bottle is a real treat.
- Nolet Silver Dry Gin, $45 at BevMo: Ariel loves this gin, which she calls "not your normal bottle." She likes the floral notes and what the description calls out as Turkish rose, peach, and raspberry.
What would be the best bottle you could imagine receiving as a gift this holiday?