Knob Creek is one of my favorite bourbons, and the bourbon of choice among a lot of the chefs I know, and this year they are offering unique and stylish customized holiday labels for free. The one caveat is that today is the last day to submit them in time for the holidays. But what a great gift idea. I know I’d love to receive a bottle or two this year. Anyway, check out www.knobcreek.com/labels by the end of the day to create your own personalized Knob Creek Holiday Label for the perfect stocking stuffer.
The truth is, I’m not a huge vodka drinker. Sure, I can enjoy a really well made vodka, but most of them are just smoke and mirrors, trying to hide their flaws through tons and tons of filtration. Luckily, I do know a thing or two about spirits (even vodka) and I’m pretty good at seeing through the marketing hype to identify the best of the best and help you find the perfect bottle for the holidays this year. Without further ado, here are the 5 vodkas that deserve serious consideration for your holiday gift giving.
Absolut Vodka- Some things are just classics. Rich and creamy, this vodka is the perfect choice for a vodka martini, and yet versatile enough to mix well with whatever else you might throw at it. I always keep a bottle of Absolut on hand for Bloody Marys, vodka Martinis and Moscow Mules. Buy this for- your boss who drinks vodka martinis or your douchey friend who drinks overpriced vodka and doesn’t know any better.
Absolut Citron Vodka- I hate flavored vodkas. I really do. Except Absolut, the originator of the flavored vodka category with the first release of Citron. While all of Absolut’s flavors are clean and genuine (and don’t feature flavors like purple, marshmallow or cotton candy), Citron remains the best of the best. With a clean, citrus flavor, eminent mixability and a great price point, a bottle of Absolut Citron will be greeted with a smile this season. Buy this for- Your friend who drinks vodka sodas with a twist, anyone who appreciates Lemondrops and those that live in cold weather climates that would appreciate the bright flavor of Citron during the gray winter days.
Karlsson’s Gold Vodka- Most potato vodkas are so filtered that the base flavor is nonexistent. Not so with Karlsson’s. The flavor is mind-blowing and a must try for any serious vodka afficionado. Perhaps best consumed on the rocks, and maybe with a twist, this is a vodka to open people’s eyes to the possibilities of vodka. Buy this for- Your father in law who drinks vodka rocks, those who appreciate the finer things in life and that friend of yours who has horrid taste in everything. A person should have good taste in at least one thing and Karlsson’s Gold is a good place to start.
Dry Fly Washington Wheat Vodka- What Karlsson’s is to potato vodka, Dry Fly is to wheat. Made from grain grown just miles from the distillery, this Washington state vodka will convert even the most ardent vodka snob. Buy this for- Doctors, lawyers, judges and politicians. Oh, and people you like too. This is pretty damn good craft vodka, not neutral grain spirit that was bought, cut, filtered and sold to consumers for an exorbitant amount of money, Dry Fly is one of the few “craft” distillers that actually make their vodka from scratch.
Alchemia Ginger Infused Polish Vodka- While the people at Galliano probably won’t be too happy when they see the Alchemia vodka bottle, this is an impressive Polish vodka with a great ginger bite. Try this one in a Moscow Mule or mixed with apple cider for an outstanding drink. Alchemia makes chocolate and wild cherry versions too (untasted, although I am eager to), which may warrant a look. Buy this for- Your fashion obsessed friend who will appreciate the design of both the bottle and the vodka inside. Or your friend who works in finance and sucks down vodka sodas like he’s the second coming of Bernie Madoff. Ginger settles the stomach and in this market, buy him a few extra bottles. He might need them soon.
Fruitcake is one of those things that gets a bad rap. Creepy candied fruits in colors not found in nature definitely don’t help the reputation of fruitcake, but a good fruitcake can be a relatively easy thing to make for the holidays and a pleasant surprise for those not experienced with the pleasures of fruitcake. The keys to good fruitcake are pretty simple, good quality fruits and nuts, and good quality liquor. While some fruitcake recipes call for a combination of liquors, from cognac to whiskey to liqueurs, I prefer to use a good quality rum like Brugal anejo so that the flavors don’t become muddied. Be warned, this recipe will make the best fruitcake you’ve ever had, but you’ll probably need to pick up at least 2 bottles of Brugal anejo in order to make these fruitcakes. Maybe just pick up 3 and enjoy the third bottle with some Brugal anejo rum fruitcake at Christmas dinner this year. The key is to feed the fruitcakes rum every 2 to 3 days to keep them moist and help let the flavors get to know each other.
Brugal Anejo Rum Fruitcake Recipe
yields 2 fruitcakes
- 2 c Brugal anejo rum plus additional for feeding the fruitcakes
- 2 c currants
- 2 c raisins
- 1 c dried cherries
- 1 c dried blueberries
- 1 c dried cranberries
- 1 c dried apricots, chopped
- zest of 2 lemons
- zest of 2 oranges
- approximately 1/2 bag, Ginger Chimes (ginger chews), chopped
- 2 c brown sugar
- 2 1/2 sticks butter
- 2 c good apple cider
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 3 1/2 c flour
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 c toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine all fruits, ginger chimes, zests and Brugal rum and stir to combine. Cover and let stand overnight.
- Add fruit and liquid mixture to a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar, apple cider and spices. Bring to a boil stirring frequently and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.
- Combine all dry ingredients.
- Stir dry ingredients into fruit mixture quicklywith a wooden spoon.
- Fold in eggs one at a time until incorporated.
- Fold in pecans.
- Spread batter evenly between two greased or nonstick 10 in loaf pans.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool on a baking rack before removing fruitcakes.
- Every 2-3 days, feed the fruitcake with additional Brugal anejo rum (approximately 2 oz per cake) by brushing the cake with rum to allow the rum to be absorbed.
I don’t usually find new liqueurs terribly interesting, but the new Kahlua Cinnamon Spice is a great addition to anyone’s liquor cabinet. Reminiscent of my favorite coffee drink in Mexico, Cafe de Olla, Kahlua Cinnamon Spice takes the classic Kahlua coffee base and adds cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar to create a spirit that is literally Christmas in a glass. In fact, it inspired me so much that I created this delicious eggnog recipe to showcase just how versatile Kahlua Cinnamon Spice truly can be. This recipe yields eight 4oz portions, but feel free to double or triple the recipe for your holiday parties this year. Trust me, you’ve got to try this one.
Kahlua Cinnamon Spice Holiday Eggnog
- 4 large eggs
- 6 oz granulated sugar
- 1 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp clove
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 oz Martell VSOP cognac
- 2 oz Kahlua Cinnamon Spice liqueur
- 4 oz Jameson Irish whiskey
- 12 oz whole milk
- 8 oz heavy cream
- In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment or a blender, blend the eggs for 1 minute.
- Add sugar and spices and blend for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate.
- Slowly add the cognac, Kahlua and Jameson, blend another 30 seconds.
- Add the milk and cream and blend 1 minute more. Cover and refrigerate.
This recipe is better made a day ahead to allow the flavors to combine.
To serve, portion 4 oz of eggnog in a teacup, grate fresh nutmeg or cinnamon over the top (optional) and serve.
Check it out. Yours truly will be judging the Portland portion of this great competition with Geoff Kleinman of DrinkSpirits.com, Hoke Harden and Allison Blythe. I love both Woodford and a good Manhattan cocktail so tomorrow should be a great event. Come join us at 3pm for the fun & festivities. Click the link for more info Woodford_Manhattan_RuthChrisTT
While I’m known as a whisky man, gin is a close second to my heart. While I won’t be doing any holiday gift guides until a little later this month, I thought I’d get everyone in the holiday spirit with this cool infographic from the fine people at Plymouth and Beefeater. Interesting stuff here. Now where did I put my Plymouth martini?