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The Best Bottles to Gift This Holiday Season

December 08, 2023

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Punch


The Best Bottles to Gift This Holiday Season

December 08, 2023

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Punch

From a coveted whiskey to a ready-to-drink Martini and more.

What should you gift the home bartenders and spirits enthusiasts in your life? Upping their at-home bar game with the ultimate tools and accessories or our favorite cocktail glassware is one way to go, but there is also something classic and undeniably celebratory about showing up with an extra-special bottle for the bar cart or the holiday party ahead. For inspiration this year, we turned to our team and some of our favorite drinks connoisseurs to ask: What is the one bottle you will be giving this year? Here’s what they had to say.

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series

Some distilleries make many things; Maker’s Mark famously focuses on just one: its renowned wheated bourbon, using a recipe developed by T.W. and Margie Samuels in the 1950s. Recently the brand has loosened up a bit, tweaking the whiskey through different barrel-finishing strategies. Among the results is the distillery’s annual Wood Finishing Series, in which wood staves steep in the whiskey during its final months of aging. The types of staves vary from year to year, making each release different—though still undeniably Maker’s Mark. This year, look for amped-up vanilla and brown sugar notes, dialed in to emphasize the whiskey’s low proof at barrel entry. Maker’s Mark has said that this is the final release in the Wood Finishing Series, so get it if you can. —Clay Risen, Punch contributor and author of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit

  • Price: $65 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 54%

Mattei Cap Corse Blanc

There is only one bottle that always has a prime spot in the door of my fridge: Mattei Cap Corse Blanc. It’s a mistelle of vermentinu and muscat grapes, bolstered with grape distillate and flavored with cinchona bark and citron local to its native Corsica. My favorite thing about it is that it’s wildly delicious and insanely versatile. Drink it with tonic! Swap it in for the vermouth in a Martini! Cook with it! Dilute it and carbonate it! Just pour yourself a glass at the end of the day! We even use it in our Lychee Martini shots at Solid Wiggles to add a touch of je ne sais quoi that unlocks the potential of the drink’s tropical base. Sky’s the limit. Cap Corse Blanc has a zippy, mineral-driven profile that keeps you coming back for the next sip. Only give it to someone you really like, because they will want to be closer to you due to your excellent taste in aperitif. —Jack Schramm, Punch contributor, bartender and co-owner of Solid Wiggles

  • Price: $22 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 17%

Amaro Camatti

With dozens of classic and new-school examples to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong when gifting a bottle of amaro. But recently, I’ve been returning again and again to Amaro Camatti, a Genovese bottling that’s a little lighter on its feet than most. There’s plenty of mint on the nose, a bit of cola and a delicate, sweet finish, like amaretti cookies. It’s perfect for after dinner, but with a splash of soda it makes for a great aperitivo, too. —Lizzie Munro, art director

  • Price: $37 (700 milliliters)
  • ABV: $20

Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum

Rums from this historic Jamaican distillery are typically sold to independent bottlers or used in blends, but this release is one of the few available in the U.S. under the distillery’s own label. Aged for eight years in ex-bourbon casks on island, this rum has the most amazing nose of tropical fruit: fresh (nearly overripe) pineapple and ripe banana, backed by a palate of brûléed fruit, vanilla and island spice. At 46 percent ABV, it is delicious sipped neat, but works equally well in cocktails, from spirit-forward rum Old-Fashioneds to refreshing punches—this bottle can truly do it all. —Chloe Frechette, Punch deputy editor

  • Price: $72 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 46%

Muri Yamilé

Earlier this year, a few of us gathered to taste nonalcoholic wines—and to make sense of the widening category. Muri’s Yamilé may have been the weirdest of the bunch, with a lactic tang, spice and surprising smokiness, and it’s the one I remember the most vividly. In the N/A wine space, there are dealcoholized wines and wine alternatives, and this bottle falls firmly in the latter camp, which I think makes it most exciting. At $38, it’s on the higher end for something zero-proof, which means a spirit-free friend might not pick it up for themselves—thus, an ideal gift. —Mary Anne Porto, Punch associate editor

  • Price: $38 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: <0.5%

Hoste The Martini

The retail market is flooded with ready-to-drink cocktail options these days, and unfortunately I find that most of them taste painfully generic (or worse, undrinkable). Thankfully, Hoste, a newish brand from the team behind Apologue Liqueurs, is on a quest to elevate the category; from what I’ve tasted so far, they’re already punching above their weight. The brand launched last year with the Gold Fashioned (which I blew through entirely too quickly), and now they’ve followed up with The Martini, a pitch-perfect collaboration with Julia Momosé of Kumiko in Chicago, who developed the recipe as an ode to her Japanese roots. The formulation includes yuzu gin custom-blended by Ari Klafter of Thornton Distilling in Illinois and dry vermouth made by Little City Vermouth in New York’s Finger Lakes region, plus a tiny atomizer of yuzu essence from Shikoku island in Japan for garnish; blossoming with botanicals that span yuzu and sakura to red sanshō, kabosu, marigold and jasmine flower, the result is an exquisitely balanced, bright and citrusy Martini. At 33 percent ABV, it’s pre-diluted so you can pour straight from the bottle. A total freezer Martini game changer. —Emma Janzen, Punch contributor and author of The Bartender’s Manifesto, Mezcal and The Way of the Cocktail

  • Price: $65 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 33%

Eve’s Cidery, Albee Hill

New York state is the Burgundy of apples, and still cider is the Aligoté of apples, so I guess that makes Autumn Stoscheck New York’s Claire Naudin. I cannot think of a single beverage that is more of a hitter year in and year out than this single-orchard stunner, and the recipient gets to feel like a pairing genius when they uncork it because, frankly, cider pairs with nearly everything. Yeah, it’s nerdy, but statistically, if you’re reading this, you are too. Get one for yourself while you’re at it; you earned it for being so open-minded. —John McCarroll, Punch contributor, wine distributor and co-host of the wine podcast “Disgorgeous”

  • Price: $18 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 7%

Michel Couvreur Overaged Malt Whisky

If you have someone in your life who is a lover of Scotch, but not a lover of its prices, this one’s for you. Not so long ago, Springbank 10 was the bottle I’d reach for if I wanted to show up with a great bottle of Scotch that was likely unheard of to the host, and around $50. Those days are gone. The 10-year has crept up and up to its current resting place above $100. I first tasted this malt whisky bottling from Michel Couvreur earlier this year thanks to my friend Matt Franco, who owns a wine shop that specializes in rare and vintage wines in the West Village called MCF Rare. Couvreur is a Belgian who showed up in Burgundy in the ‘50s with the intention of making wine, and ended up blending and aging artisanal Scotch whisky instead (his family now runs the operation). This bottling is a blend of more than 50 different malts aged 12 to 27 years, distilled in Scotland and aged in Spanish ex-sherry barrels in a cellar in Burgundy, France. Yes, that’s right. This shows all of the dried fruit and slightly nutty profile of sherry cask whiskey paired with the high-toned, saline profile I seek from great Scotch. Easily one of the most unique whiskies I’ve tried under $100. —Talia Baiocchi, Punch editor-in-chief

  • Price: $70 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 43%

Baltamaro Sczechuan Amaro

Perfect for this time of year (or any, really) is this Szechuan-inspired amaro from Baltimore Spirits Company. Notes of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger add a hint of wintry flavor, while the fruity and subtly spicy finish round out any cocktail. Baltamaro Sczechuan Amaro can sub in for Campari for a more floral Negroni, play the role of vermouth in a Manhattan or add bite to a classic B&B. Of course enjoy it neat to cap off a meal, too. The amaro’s bold, complex flavor profile not only makes for a great conversation starter, but the bottle’s illustrative label looks damn sharp on a bar. —Jess Mayhugh, Punch managing editor

  • Price: $35 (750 milliliters)
  • ABV: 35%

Yumé Boshi Ume Plum Syrup

Oakland’s Yumé Boshi makes beautiful shrubs, syrups, jams and more from California-grown ume. I always keep a bottle of their defiantly simple ume syrup—just ume and organic sugar—in the fridge, which is perfect for use in cocktails or mixed with seltzer for an elegant N/A option. –Emily Timberlake, Punch visiting editor

  • Price: $24 (13 ounces)
  • ABV: N/A


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