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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Drinks & Treats

The Macallan 1824 Series

The Macallan 1824 Series

Get ready for some decadent treats, because whether you’re looking to solve a sweet tooth, or deliver the perfect cocktails and drinks at your festive celebrations, these are some of the most delicious treats we could find for your holiday shopping list. Browse through our suggestions that include Harbor Sweets, Prosecco Zonin, Highland Park 10, Canadian Club Reserve, Macallan 1824 Series, Luksusowa Vodka, Soma Chocolatier, and Sodastream.


Soma Birch Branch

Birch Branch from Soma Chocolatier |
Price: $25.00
Available at: In Toronto and online

As exclusive treats go, Soma Chocolatier’s whole collection is incredible, but their very limited edition Birch Branch is something really special. Designed from a real Birch Branch, that posed as inspiration, this decadent chocolate treat is filled with hazelnut chocolate praline that has crispy chips of feuilletine and layers of pistachio crumble. The unique Birch Branch is also only made in batches of 300 each season, so it is as rare as it is delicious.

You can get your hands on Soma Chocolatier’s Birch Branch at either of their two locations in Toronto, or by placing an order via email through their website. You can also browse their full catalogue of artisan treats on the site, which includes hot chocolates, truffles, and lots of other special items.

Harbor Sweets: Salt & Ayre Chocolates

Harbor Sweets: Salt & Ayre Chocolates |
Price: $16.00 to $24.00
Available at: United States store locations and online

Still in the chocolate treat category is Harbor Sweets’ new Salt & Ayre collection, which celebrates the retailer’s 40th anniversaty with 70% cacao bittersweet dark chocolate. Packaged in 9- and 16-piece collections, the boxes of sweets have a number of clever combinations of flavours, including Chai, Café Au Lait, Toasted Hazelnut and Espresso truffles; and three sea salt pieces that feature Caramel with Himalayan Sea Salt, Crystallized Ginger with Thai Ginger Sea Salt, and Almond Buttercrunch garnished with Chipotle Sea Salt.

Retailing at $16.00 and $24.00 for the two boxes, respectively, the tempting chocolates are a fantastic gift that you can order online, or pick up in one of the stores in the United States. For delivery online before Christmas, you will need to place your order no later than December 13 if you are in the continental United States, and a little earlier for Canadians.


The MacAllan Amber Bottle

The Macallan 1824 Series |
Price: $64.99 to $299.99
Available at: LCBO in Ontario

Hailing from Speyside, Scotland, The Macallan 1824 Series is a beautiful collection of whiskies that will tempt you to pick up a bottle for yourself before you even look at gifting a bottle to someone else.

Priced between $64.99 and $299.99–which covers the marques from Gold and Amber to Sienna and Ruby–the 1824 Series is a true whisky-lovers collection that offers a somewhat daring approach to the iconic Scottish liquor. The Macallan uses a range of specially-chosen casks that help give the whisky colour and flavour that springs out of the glass and onto the tongue.

For whisky aficionados looking for a great price, the Gold marque is a wonderful, versatile liquor that has hints of orange peel, ginger, malt, lemon, and cinnamon that works well on the rocks, or in a cocktail. It’s an ever-so slightly dry whisky that has a hint of the lemon and orange peel before it even touches your tongue.

What I loved most about The Macallan 1824 Gold is that it mixes beautifully, and begs to be used in a cocktail to give that smokey edge you only get in a great whisky.

Highland Park 10

Highland Park 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch |
Price: $59.95
Available at: LCBO in Ontario

For a truly smokey, sweet whisky, Highland Park’s 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is another fantastic liquor that shines like honey, and delivers a hint of fruit that lingers on the tongue. This honey-tinged whisky finishes with that distinct single malt finish, while still coming in at a reasonable price.

Earning numerous awards over the last few years, Highland Park obviously knows their whisky, and while they offer a range of high-end whiskies as well, the 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is very affordable for a great single malt Scotch, and the flavour suits pairing with a wide range of food, especially seafood, venison, and even desserts. While some might consider it sacrilege to cook with a single malt whisky, the 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is a perfect addition to special dishes that could benefit from the liquor’s unique smokey flavour.

Canadian Club Reserve

Canadian Club Reserve |
Price: $27.45
Available at: LCBO in Ontario

On the Canadian side of the whisky market, Canadian Club Reserve is one of my favorites thanks to its smooth finish, and oaky, vanilla air. Coming in at the best price of all the sampled whiskies, Canadian Club Reserve is a fantastic liquor that has a delicious palate whether you drink it neat or on ice.

With a flavour like imported English toffee, and spices, Canadian Club Reserve finishes with a slight lingering taste that reminds me of caramel candies. It’s delicious, and about the only thing I might mix it with would be a fine, rich-bodied coffee.

Aged for nine years, the Reserve whisky is about as close to a bourbon as Canadian Club gets, as the company mentions of this wonderful elixir, and that makes for a truly tempting drink during the holidays, whether its a gift, or something you plan to offer guests during entertaining.

Prosecco Zonin

Prosecco Zonin |
Price: $13.95 for 750ml
Available at: LCBO in Ontario

Switching gears away from whiskies, Prosecco Zonin is a very affordable treat from Zonin, the Italian winemaker. For just under $14, the 750ml bottle makes for a nice drink with dessert, or it can be mixed into cocktails for a little extra sweetness and sparkle.

At 11% alcohol, Prosecco Zonin is a fantastic aperitif that compliments a range of treats, most notably anything that is suited to the liquor’s almond notes. I especially enjoyed the drink mixed with punch and fresh fruit for a muddled cocktail that says happy holidays, with a light finish.

Prosecco Zonin also comes in a three-pack of 200ml bottles for $13.25, which might be handier for stocking stuffers, or for individual servings for guests at your next party.

Luksusowa Vodka

Luksusowa Vodka |
Price: $37.85
Available at: LCBO in Ontario

This triple-distilled vodka is a perfect liquor to have on-hand for your mixer bar during any upcoming holiday parties. You can use it like any vodka to make standard cocktails, or take a hint of the liquor’s smooth, almost citrus flavour, and mix up your own special holiday recipe.

This Polish vodka is also unique in that it’s distilled from potatoes, where most vodkas are actually grain-based, and it enjoys a long reputation that dates back to 1928.

Best of all, Luksusowa Vodka has a wonderful finish that is just a little smokey and surprising.

Top Shelf Hand Cut Crystal Sculpt Decanter

Top Shelf Hand Cut Crystal Sculpt Decanter
Price: $89.99
Available at: Bed Bath & Beyond select stores and online

If you’re looking for a stylish decanter to go with some of the fine liquor on your shelves, Bed Bath & Beyond has you covered with this hand cut crystal decanter that will go perfectly with your favorite whisky. The decanter holds 20 ounces and is 24% lead European hand cut crystal. It’s also sure to be a centre-piece in your bar, next to your favorite shaker and tumblers.


Sodastream |
Price: $89.99
Available at: Canadian Tire, Home Outfitters, Wal-Mart, The Bay

Sodastream is actually more of a kitchen product than a drink, but the company offers something very unique that makes it a fantastic gift, or something to have on hand for your holiday entertaining.

If you’re tired of the excessively sweet pop that you find in supermarkets, Sodastream is miraculous in that you only need a CO2 canister, the machine, a bottle, and fresh water to make fizzy soda that can be mixed with any flavour you like. That also means you can decide how much sugar you want to put in to each bottle.

That means that you can either buy Sodastream’s own line of soda syrups, or go off on your own and try creating new recipes. For entertaining, that offers a lot of possibilities, but it’s also fantastic year-round if you’re looking to try something new in your glass.

Simple, clean, and quick, Sodastream’s Jet starter kit includes a soda maker, carobonator, and a 1 litre bottle. Just pour clean, cold water into the bottle, connect it to the soda maker and press down on the top button three times, and you have fizzy water that can either be used as tonic for mixing, or mixed with syrup for a quick batch of pop. If that’s not quite your style you can also just mix it with juice and a little sugar for a simple Italian soda.

Best of all, the system requires very little clean-up, and the pricing means you’re only paying around fifty cents for a litre of home-made pop.

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