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Raise a glass to ‘spirited’ gifts


People that love liquor always love getting liquor. Don’t try to over think it by giving them a toaster or pillow shams or framed photograph of you and them on Cape Cod. Get them booze. (OK, adding the photo in is a nice touch.)

Anchor & Hope wines ($18-$19 bottles, $11-$12 cans)

Guess who just walked out of the inaugural Boston Wine Competition with four wins? Right! It’s Anchor & Hope.

This Rhode Island winemaker gained some much-earned momentum at the fall contest: the 2020 Pinot Noir nabbed a bronze medal, the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc grabbed a silver, the 2021 Pinot Gris won gold, and the 2020 Riesling received Best in Class for the category and a platinum award for receiving unanimous gold medals.

I fell for the crisp Savvy B. in a can this summer, now I’m ready to go all in on the Rumford craft winery that uses both local grapes and imports them from California, Oregon and Germany. Wait, cans? Yes, canned wine is good and a hell of a lot better for the planet.

Boissiere Vermouth ($10)

Why do you need good vermouths in your fridge? (Yes, keep bottles in the fridge.) Two reasons. One, so you can make good Manhattans, Martinis, Negronis, Vieux Carres and a dozen more classic cocktails. Two, so you can drink it… on its own!

First, if you are going to make cocktails with top shelf liquors, you need a sturdy vermouth to match them. Boissiere Vermouth is the perfect inexpensive choice for both an Extra Dry and Sweet Vermouth. The brand pedigree – born in France, made in Italy – is encouraging. Its flavor is a delight, a noticeable notch up from similarly priced brands.

Use Boissiere to boost your favorite classics or drink it… on its own! Yup, that bears repeating. Quality vermouths can be (and are, if you live in Europe) enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Curious? Your gateway to having the fortified wine naked should be Boissiere Sweet Vermouth with a splash of soda water and twist of lemon. So refreshing.

Cynar ($32)

OK, your friends are already stocked up on wine and vermouths you already love. What about artichoke amaros? No one on your list has one? For shame. To be honest, Cynar is the only artichoke apéritif I know (it’s actually made with a dozen different botanicals, but let’s not quibble).

Made by the people behind Campari and Aperol, this Italian apéritif has that classic amaro bitterness. But it also has a taste that’s both vermouth and Campari adjacent so you can use it alongside gins, bourbons and ryes. Swapping Cynar in for Campari in a Negroni is a nice twist that adds a new layer of depth to the drink. Cynar 70 ($42), which has roughly double the alcohol as Cynar, has the punch to replace part or all the brown liquor in a Manhattan.

Village Garage Rye ($55)

Bourbon tends to be so many people’s favorite spirit. And who am I to argue… except I will note that Rye has a more earthy taste… and I guess I will point out that earthy goes a bit better with Christmas pies and winter cookies. Fine, I’ll just come out with it: Drink more Rye.

To help you with my demand, Vermont’s Village Garage has just started shipping its stuff down to Mass. The distillery’s Rye is spectacular. Made from 100 percent malted rye and aged for two years, then blended down with spring water, the nectar has such a rich, strong character. Great in a cocktail, better on its own.

Vermont's Village Garage is now shipping to Massachusetts,, good news for rye lovers. (Photo Village Garage)
Vermont’s Village Garage is now shipping to Massachusetts,, good news for rye lovers. (Photo Village Garage)



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