Food & Drink

Canadian-made eggnog, gingerbread gin, boozy hot cocoa and cocktail kits that make for excellent last-minute gifts

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or checking people off your list, these Canadian-made, small-batch bottles will look great tied up with a bow. Bring a couple to a party, wrap one up for a friend or just place some smack-dab in the middle of your holiday spread.

This creamy, boozy and surprisingly lactose-free bottle is from Almonte’s Dairy Distillery, where they distill vodka using leftover whey from local dairy farmers. Apart from eggnog, Vodkow also makes maple cream, orange cream, coffee cream and chocolate cream liqueurs, all of which are excellent tipped into your morning coffee or post-skate hot cocoa. $29.95  

Slurp was started in the early days of Covid-19 as a way to make at-home (and backyard and patio and park bench) drinking a little easier. Essentially, it’s a juice company catered to the cocktail crowd, serving up fresh-pressed juices made specifically for mixing. There are the classics (margarita and pomegranate mojito) as well as the very seasonally appropriate cranberry paloma and spiced apple pear. Just add booze. $15  

This right here is alcohol’s answer to the Christmas cookie. Willibald starts with white gin, infuses the heck out of it with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and ginger, then adds in some cane sugar to sweeten it up. Sip it on its own, add it to eggnog or apple cider, or spike your morning coffee and hot chocolate for all your holiday hangover needs. $24.85  

Fin Soda was founded by a bartender who quit drinking during the pandemic after experiencing a health scare. That didn’t stop her from wanting something great to drink, so she set out crafting her own canned cocktails that packed a big punch of flavour without the proof. There’s a stellar non-alcoholic spritz, but when the season calls, try the festive blend of haskap berry, cedar and balsam fir soda for a soothing, après-ski-like sip. $55  

No one looks bad showing up to a party with Champagne in hand, and this box from the Annex’s wine bar and bottle shop has that plus a trio of locally made treats: pickled Ontario strawberries, chicken liver mousse from chef Ryan Crawford and creamy brie from Cheese Boutique. It’s happy hour in a box. $126  

Calgary-based Spirits With Smoke makes DIY cocktail smoking kits for any at-home bar stars. Each includes aromatic wood bricks (cherry, maple, oak), Canadian maple syrup, aromatic bitters, a torch, and a recipe and instruction book. $78  


Avoiding alcohol around the holidays can be hard—especially if you’re surrounded by high-revelry situations. For something classy to sip on instead, Drink Spring produces a line of non-alcoholic ferments inspired by real wine. Blends are packed with the best of the season, calling on ingredients like maple sap, willow bark, Riesling grapes, tulips and elderflower. This two-pack includes the Bright Green, a lovage-infused soda, and the Garden Supply, a soda made with tulip, holy basil and sweet fern. $30  

This Italian-style aperitivo has a made-in-Toronto mentality. Each cherry-hued bottle starts with a base of Ontario mead that’s infused with orange peels, topped off with botanicals including galangal and rose hip, and steeped in a neutral grain spirit. (And, yes, you can make a negroni sbagliato with it.) $36  

This kit from bartender Evelyn Chick is packed with two pours each of three different holiday cocktails. There’s a tall smoked pear Collins, a winter chai sour and a sneaky holiday cosmo. $85  

Canada is one of the best places in the world to make rye whiskey, and there’s one fellow we have to thank for that: George Reifel. Seventy-five years ago, he conjured up a recipe for all-rye whiskey using Canadian grains (and made a fortune smuggling it into Prohibition-era America). This new brand celebrates his legacy with a high-rye, highly Canadian whiskey. $45.95  

For the holiday season, this Toronto-based company packed up a cocktail lover’s pantry. Included in the kit is everything but the booze—things like Medjool-date-and-citrus-saffron cocktail syrup, aromatic cocktail mists, elderberry vermouth bitters and bourbon-oolong bitters. There’s also some olive brine for low-effort dirty martinis, plus two resin coasters and four hand-blown glass stir sticks. $185  

This west-end wine bar recently turned their new space on Geary into a real winery, where they make fun, fresh, gone-in-a-second wines. There are three of them in this pack, including a skin-contact Riesling, a big-Beaujolais-energy Gamay-Zweigelt blend and a breezy red. $69  

Now you can spike hot chocolate with some help from Dillon’s—because sometimes the holidays call for something a little stronger than cocoa. These gift boxes include a full bottle of vodka, a (vegan) hot chocolate mix, dehydrated marshmallows and hot pepper bitters. There’s also a a stellar caesar kit, if you’re feeling more savoury than sweet. $65  

While this has all the festive flavours of mulled cider—Canadian maple syrup, fresh ginger extract, fresh apple cider—it calls for a base of Canadian-made sake instead of rum or whiskey. All of Izumi’s sake is made in the Distillery District with water sourced from Muskoka Springs (which has the same alkalinity as Fushimi in Kyoto). $22.95  

Sure, you could scour the city’s many bottle shops looking for that one perfect bottle for your one picky wine-nerd friend. Or you could just call the helpful folks at Praise and let the pros do it for you. Simply jot down what your friend is into—juicy reds, spendy Champagne, biodynamic bottles—let them know your budget, and the staff somms will do the rest. They’ll even deliver! Price varies.


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