A last-minute guide to local beer, wine and booze gifts (or because we could all use a drink right now)
No matter what the holidays look like for you this year—perhaps it’s a socially distanced soirée or Zoom-assisted digital dinner—you may feel the need for some extra seasonal spirit to fuel the festivities. Whether you need a last-minute gift or want to celebrate getting a booster (or maybe you’re just need a morale boost) these local booze producers have you covered.
Perhaps catching up with old friends IRL isn’t an option this year…..again. That’s where bartender extraordinaire Kelsey Ramage comes in: her single-serve old fashioned cocktails are carefully crafted, then bagged and sent out Canada-wide to someone you love who could use a drink right now—and who couldn’t?
Willibald’s adulterated take on the classic Christmas cookie combines their gingerbread gin (white gin that’s been infused with baking spices and a few drops of can sugar) with lemon juice, turbinado sugar and a bright and spicy ginger tea. It’s a quick and easy drink that will both a) refresh you and b) warm you up.
Radio Cocktails—the pandemic pivot by a couple of Il Covo peeps—has added half-litre bottles of eggnog to their lineup of pre-bottled classic cocktails. If you want some nosh with your nog, they also offer full snacks, like burrata, salumi, marinated olives and loaves of ciabatta.
If you happen to be hosting this holiday, Project Gigglewater offers complete cold-weather cocktail kits. They are particularly festive this year, with names like Jingle Juice (tequila, passionfruit, cardamom, agave syrup), Gettin’ Blitzen (bourbon, peach, lemon, apricot, cream of Earl Grey), and Naughty or Spice (rum, allspice, pear, lime, angostura and orange bitters). Each kit makes seven drinks (or one really, really, really big drink).
Here’s the secret to a more seasonal negroni: spike it with Spirit of York’s riff on sloe gin. Made with hawthorn berries (a rich red fruit harvested on Manitoulin Island), the Distillery District producer goes on to add Muskoka-made maple syrup before infusing it into a rye grain-based gin.
For its annual seasonal offering, Rorschach is rolling out a stout that could easily be dubbed a grown-up chocolate milk. Decadence is brewed with oats, milk, sugar, chocolate and roasted malts then conditioned on coffee, ginger, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean. Leave one out for Santa to ensure extra-special gifts.
If you’re all nogged out already, try Trinidadian ponche de creme, a rummy nog riff packed with rich, subtly-sweet flavours and spices. Each bottle of Jojo’s Mix, available from Island Mix Restaurant and Lounge, is ready to drink, so just crack the lid, pour it in a glass (or don’t, anything goes these days) and garnish with the included citrus wheel. If nog isn’t your favourite grog, Jojo also makes a full mix of rum-packed RTD cocktails, including seasonal sangria and a cranberry margarita, plus peanut, strawberry, cherry and strawberry ponche de creme.
As we inch towards yet another a stay-at-home winter, your bar cart is poised to become your new local. Ensure you’re set up for success with all the fixins you need to concoct a hyper-seasonal apple old fashioned, including ginger wildflower syrup, apple bitters and dehydrated lemon wheels—all of which can be found at the Cocktail Emporium. If whiskey isn’t your thing, the store is stocked with plenty of other cocktail kits.
Get a little retro—okay, very retro—with one of Canada’s oldest boozy beverages: mead. Think less viking swill and more elegant, wine-like sip, made with Prince Edward County honey. Wellington’s Millefleurs makes a few different options (ginger, maple, apricot, fig-date) that are sure to be warming when the mercury dips.
Yes, P.E.C’s Hinterland is a go-to for all things sparkling. But they also craft stellar ratafia, a European spirit made with fruits (grapes, in this case), nuts and spices. Recipes vary from region to region, but Hinterland’s is made with leftover pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, and distilled by Kinsip Distillers around the corner.