Tuesday, December 17, 2013

[HOT LIST] Your EID Holiday Shopping Guide

Two James Spirits. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

There's one week until Christmas - time to start shopping!!! Allow me to make it easy on you: buy them booze. Why? Because everyone likes booze. (Except people who don't drink. Don't buy them booze. But everyone else likes booze.) Here's a few (several!) ideas for booze-themed gifts to give this holiday season.

Schramm's Made in Michigan basket.
#1 Buy them booze baskets
Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a basket full of booze. Schramm's Mead in Ferndale is offering two different gift baskets in $40 and $60 price points. The larger basket features all items made in Michigan. 8 Degrees Plato in Ferndale has customizable gift buckets (as in ice buckets), which you can choose to stock full of craft beer and any combination of artisan foods, beer stemware, beer-themed gift items like beer bottle cap jewelry made by a local artist, beer books, and more.

Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn is making customized gift baskets from their extensive assortment of imported and craft beers, as well as wine, coffee, tea, chocolates, cheese and sausage, and whatever else they carry (which I don't  really know because I never make it past the beer section…it's a big store!). The Wine Garden in St. Clair Shores also has customizable gift baskets which can include anything from their selection of craft beer (they pay extra close attention to the Belgians) as well as their large selection of wines, their custom-built cigar humidor, and their exceptional selection of whiskeys and bourbons (one of the best in the state - get your George Dickel bottles there right now, and nowhere else).

Specialty meads from Superior Lakes at the Wine Garden.
#2 Buy them straight-up booze
Alcohol is the perfect holiday gift for those you don't know what to buy. It says, "I don't really know what you like, but I know you like to drink." Michigan's craft booze scene - beer, mead, cider, spirits, even wine (yes, wine counts) - has been exploding in recent years, and, as is typically the case with fast-growing industries, this has been the biggest year yet. This holiday season, give the gift that says you're thoughtful, you support the local economy, and you also have taste.

While Founders and Bell's get all the accolades from the chest-thumpers on Beer Advocate and the media outlets that troll them for their listicles, the reality is New Holland's Dragon's Milk is probably the best bourbon barrel aged stout being made in our state. (SHHHHHHHHHH, DON'T TELL ANYONE.) But don't take my word for it. (No but really, do.)

Valentine Distilling in Ferndale now has two vodkas, a gin, and a whiskey on store shelves, but stop by the distillery itself to pick up some of their barrel-aged gin, an extra-special gift for spirits connoisseurs. Or give them a taste of Detroit history with a bottle from Two James Spirits, the first licensed distillery in the city of Detroit since before Prohibition. The bottles alone are pieces of art. Plus they come with booze in them.

Heed the mead with a little something special (as in, special release) from Schramm's, B. Nektar, Superior Lakes, or Kuhnhenn. Or brave the crowds at Kuhnhenn this weekend for their special Winter Solstice bottle release - all the big, burly beers and meaty meads their rapid fans wait all year for. It's kind of a big deal.

Craft Box + custom buckets from 8 Degrees.
#3 Buy them booze subscriptions
What's better than the gift of booze? The gift of booze 12 times. 8 Degrees Plato now offers a monthly "Craft Box" club membership. With a one-time membership fee of a whopping $5, members get access to a monthly Craft Box selection featuring craft beers, ciders, artisan foods, and beer-themed goodies. The boxes are $45 each month.

Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown now offers BWC (beer - wine - coffee) clubs. Sign up for a monthly subscription for beer ($25), wine ($40), coffee ($30), or all three ($85), all of the exceptional quality and quirky caliber you've come to expect from the folks at IFAD. Email andrew@greatlakescoffee.com to get signed up, or to sign someone else up.

#5 Buy them books about booze
First, buy the two books I was somewhat involved with: Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing and Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider's Guide to Detroit. Both are amazing. Because they in some way involve me.

Aside from those, also pick up the newly-released Detroit's Historic Eastern Market, written by Eastern Market's vice president of business development Randall Fogelman and writer Lisa Rush. This book is part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing.

Also newly-released is Michigan's Best Beer Guide, a comprehensive guide to all of Michigan's breweries and brewpubs. (But with how fast this industry is growing, it won't be comprehensive for long.)

#6 Buy them furniture made out of booze barrels
DEAR FRIENDS, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BUY FOR ME, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. New Holland (I LOVE YOU GUYS) has started re-purposing their used barrels into crafty furniture pieces - with a special emphasis on Dragon's Milk, MICHIGAN'S BEST BBA STOUT BUT DON'T TELL ANYONE BECAUSE THEN IT WILL BE RUINED. The BarrelWorks Project shop is now live.

#7 Buy them booze clothing and accessories
Got a man who likes his ties as much as he likes his whiskey? BAM - whiskey ties. Detroit tie lab and international sensation Cyberoptix has whiskey and beer-themed ties. Order them online or pick up the whiskey tie at the Emerald, an independently-owned store inside the Park Shelton in Midtown. Hugh in Midtown has all sorts of crystal beerware, cocktail accoutrements, and vintage ice buckets, but I'm particularly partial to the tiki mugs, because tiki mugs.

#8 Buy them booze-infused foods and mixers
Speaking of Hugh, they are the first retail outlet to carry Wolf Moon, a local partnership with McClure's Pickles producing artisan cocktail mixers. Just add booze! (For that, see #2.) Read more about Wolf Moon here. And speaking of McClure's, it's still the best damn Bloody Mary mix on the market, the end. Always good for gifts with a nice bottle of vodka. (Or gin! Tequila even, like Blue Nectar, another Michigan-made product.) And speaking of mixers! Order a hand-crafted seasonal syrup (or six) from Voigt's Soda House, available for pick-up in store or delivery (for orders over $50). For sodas. But really for cocktails.

You still have time to order some beer mustard, beer soap, and hop candy from Founders. Plus, Rock City Eatery will be selling bourbon/butterscotch/pecan and sweet potato whiskey pies (and two other flavors not boozey) on December 23 and 24, first-come first-serve. (He sold out within minutes on Thanksgiving so, you know. Can only make so many pies in that oven and spend so many hours not sleeping.)