Wine & Spirits: Local Gift Guide, Bar None

by WL Author

Washington’s best mixologists, winemakers and distillers offer up spirited gifts this holiday season.

By Kelly A. Magyarics

Todd Thrasher’s kit of house-made cocktail mixes is a perfect holiday gift for the cocktail lover in your life. (Photo courtesy of Society Fair)

What to get for the special imbiber in your life? How about one (or several) of these gift ideas brought to you by local liquid masters:

Todd Thrasher’s Artisan Cocktail Mixes
Bar star Todd Thrasher, who uncorks and shakes at Restaurant Eve, PX and his new playground TNT Bar in Arlington, offers a line of flavorful, house-made mixers that are nothing like the mass produced stuff on the market. The kit includes six mixes for $75.00, and is perfect for friends obsessed with only using the freshest, highest quality ingredients behind the bar. Thrasher Tonic’s hint of lemongrass is great for mixing with your favorite citrus-forward gin; Eamonn’s Cocktail Mix’s concoction of yuzu and Irish Red Lemonade only needs a healthy dose of Irish Whiskey; Cosmo Mix has organic cranberries, lime and sugar—just add vodka and Triple Sec; Ginger Beer Syrup kicks it up with ginger, jalapeno and spices—throw in a dose of dark rum and soda water, and serve over ice; Thrasher’s Mint Syrup is mojito-ready; and Thyme Lime’s herbal, citrus-y notes are perfect in a sour or gimlet riff. To purchase, visit the market inside Society Fair, or order from their website.

Philip Greene’s To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion
Encourage the recipient of this gift to mix up a Papa Doble, settle into an armchair and delve into this juicy read penned by Washington-based Ernest Hemingway enthusiast and cocktail connoisseur Philip Greene. He uncovers the author’s drinking habits, offers dozens of drink recipes connected with his novels and folklore, and serves up fascinating anecdotes and stories. Order on for $16, and include a bottle of white rum and maraschino liqueur for the literary-minded tippler in your life.

Stinson Vineyards’ 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is like a Viriginia Sancerre: crisp and flinty, with gooseberry and passion fruit. (Photo courtesy of Stinson Vineyards)

Stinson Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Meritage, Crozet, VA
Tucked in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Stinson Vineyards is making some still-under-the-radar killer bottles in the style of garagiste wines of France. Winemaker Rachel Stinson refers to their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($21.99) as Virginia’s Sancerre; crisp and flinty, it’s got classic aromas and flavors of gooseberry and passion fruit. Their 2010 Meritage ($31.99) blends Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Juicy black cherries combine with spice and great structure, and has the potential for ageing. Stinson has just started distribution in the area, but you can buy all their offering and have them shipped to the District, Maryland or Virginia, on their website.

Port City Brewing Company’s Tidings Ale
A couple of six-packs of the Alexandria, Virginia-based brewery’s Tidings Ale ($11.99) makes for a thoughtful host gift. A strong Belgian-style blond ale, Tidings is brewed with local Maryland wildflower honey and Virginia wheat, which Port City says store away the flavor and essence of summer, and later warms us during the cold winter months. The limited-edition brew is gently spiced with coriander, cardamom, fresh ginger and grains of paradise, and is meant for sipping and sharing with friends and family. Purchase at area stores, or at the brewery itself. The brewery’s online store also sells apparel and other accessories for the craft beer lover in your life.

New Columbia Distiller’s Green Hat Gin
New Columbia Distiller’s gin ($36) is the first botanical spirit to be produced in Washington, D.C. in a hundred years. It was named for George Cassiday, aka “The Man in the Green Hat,” who ran a covert bootlegging operation for Congress from basement offices in the House and Senate, and then wrote about his undertakings in front-page articles in The Washington Post. Green Hat Gin is distilled by hand from 100% grain and select botanicals, in a copper pot still. It’s got a peppery, spicy bite, as well as subtle citrus and herbal notes. You can buy it at the distillery, and look for it in area liquor shops like Schneider’s, and check out their website for classic and modern cocktail ideas.

Green Hat Gin is the first botanical spirit to be made in D.C. in a hundred years. (Photo courtesy New Columbia Distillers)

Gift card for the Columbia Room
Budding home cocktailians will love a gift card from the Columbia Room, which can be used towards classes or an evening of well made cocktails at Columbia Room, as well as at The Passenger. (Remind the recipient that Columbia Room cocktail classes sell out months in advance, so plan accordingly.) Gift cards are available for purchase at The Passenger Monday through Saturday starting at 5 PM, and Sundays starting at 2 PM. You can also order them online and have them mailed to you, and they arrive in one to two weeks.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter @kmagyarics. On her wish list for Santa this year is grower’s Champagne, and Grand Cru Bourgogne.

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