When it comes to planning what kinds of liquid gifts to bring to holiday gatherings, I tend to find myself in the same pickle every year. I have this innate desire to please everyone but I also want to drink things that are a little more interesting. Sure, I could bring a crowd-pleasing bottle of bubbly or bourbon, but why not arrive with a foreign amaro or intriguing eau de vie that could inspire friends and family to drink outside their normal wheelhouse? Holiday gatherings are such a great opportunity to share new treasures that most of the time, I can’t resist the urge to bring something outside the box.
Of course, when it comes down to browsing the liquor store shelves, anxieties arise. Will everyone think I’m too offbeat or trying too hard? Once I remind myself it will pretty much always be impossible to please every single person at the party, I try let those concerns go and roll with liquids that are exciting to me, and hope someone else will catch the curiosity bug as well. More often than not, the plan works and one family member or another ends up finding a new holiday favorite.
You might notice that most of them fall on the bitter end of the spectrum; that’s because bitter and herbal liqueurs help rev your appetite—and soothe the stomach after a hefty meal.
So here’s a guide to some of the fun and curious spirits I’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner this year. Some of these make stellar partners for your beautifully roasted bird, while others work to ease the digestive system after the annual stuffing eating contest feast.You might notice that most of them fall on the bitter end of the spectrum; that’s because bitter and herbal liqueurs help rev your appetite—and soothe the stomach after a hefty meal. Every single bottle would make for excellent contribution to your holiday gathering, and since most of them are consumed in smaller doses than, say, a bottle of wine, your host will get the added bonus of leftovers.
Obscure Treasures for Adventurous Types
If your Thanksgiving host already has a well stocked bar—and her taste tends toward the adventurous—it’s nice to bring a bottle that’s a bit unusual. Here’s a treasure chest of options for a Turkey Day walk on the wild side.
This Mexican Fernet is the darkest, most oily and thick-bodied amaro I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know. A dry, thistle-like bitterness courses through the tempestuous Fernet Vallet ($22.99 for 750mL), accompanied with clove, cardamom, and other smoky, herbal flavors. While it’s a bit too bold for me to sip neat, it mixes harmoniously with agave spirits like tequila and mezcal (add a bit of lime juice), or softened with an equal dose of Campari for a gorgeous 50/50. Definitely a post-meal aid for proper digestion.