Category Archives: Upcoming Events

20% Off San Francisco Bay Rum Festival Tickets

Hey rum fans, want to check out rum old and new, rum cocktails, and rum-food pairings ’til you scream for your galleon?

Check out next month’s San Francisco Ministry of Rum Festival, held at Miss Pearl’s in Oakland on August 8, from 2 to 5pm.

All you need to get in cheap is register for the forums at the Ministry of Rum website, then you’ll get 20% off the $50 admission fee. Just create and log in to your account, and you’ll see the discount automatically when you purchase your tickets.

Hope to see you at the event!

masthead.small  20% Off San Francisco Bay Rum Festival Tickets

15% off Pinot Days San Francisco Tickets

pinot days 15% off Pinot Days San Francisco TicketsThe world’s most noteworthy celebration of California Pinot Noir, Pinot Days, gets going on June 27th, and if you’re a Pinot fan it’s a place you need to be.

And Drinkhacker wants to ease the financial burden of your attendance. When you purchase tickets, use the coupon code DRNKHKRSF10 and you’ll save 15% off the $60 purchase price.

The event is on from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday June 27th. Be there!

Upcoming: Toast of the Town San Francisco – April 22, 2010

logo tott10 Upcoming: Toast of the Town San Francisco   April 22, 2010Food and wine go together like Brad and Angelina — but few wine-focused events do the combination well.

Wine Enthusiast‘s Toast of the Town event is the exception, combining exceptional and eclectic wine choices with a selection of outstanding restaurants in just the right proportions. Last year’s TotT stands as one of the top wine events I attended in 2009.

Toast of the Town 2010 is coming back to San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House on April 22, and my mouth is already watering. Top wineries pouring include Archery Summit, Antinori, Beaulieu, Pine Ridge, Graham’s Port, and Dow’s Port. Restaurants serving small dishes include Farallon, The Girl and the Fig, Cliff House, Rose Pistola, and the inimitable House of Chicken and Waffles.

Event runs from 5pm (VIP tickets, $169) or 7pm (standard tickets, $89) to 10pm on April 22, 2010. Early bird discounts are available on both tickets if you purchase before April 1. Space is limited. The event benefits the San Francisco Food Bank.

Get tickets here, and say hi if you see me on the floor!

The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Rolls Across the Country

Hey folks — turns out there’s a third whisky show in town in addition to WhiskyFest and Whiskies of the World. The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza actually hits 13 cities this year, beginning with Atlanta in March and winding its way to San Francisco in November. The itinerary is a familiar one… in the words of the event planners:

Ladies and Gentlemen are cordially invited to enjoy a connoisseur’s evening featuring over 100 rare & exceptional single malt and Scotch whiskies. The evening includes a delicious dinner buffet as well as a selection of premium imported cigars for our guests’ later enjoyment. The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza brings the discerning enthusiast the opportunity to sample the participating whiskies in a sophisticated and elegant environment with genuine camaraderie and knowledgeable representatives from each participating distillery.

A full schedule can be found here.

Want to attend? Drinkhacker readers can get a break on the price of a ticket — your first two can be had at the “member price,” which is $15 off the cost for non-members. Just visit this page to purchase tix and use promotional code TDH2010. Remember you only get two at the discounted price, so get your thirsty friends to buy their own.

Hope to see you at the SF event!

Win Tickets to San Francisco ZAP Zinfandel Grand Tasting

Zin in Paradise wflower small Win Tickets to San Francisco ZAP Zinfandel Grand TastingNot into whiskey? How about Zin? San Francisco’s monumental ZAP Zinfandel Tasting is a mere few weeks away, and we’ve got four tickets (two pairs of two tickets) to give to you, dear reader. A total value of $236!

This year the event will be held on January 30, 2010 at the usual Fort Mason location, where hundreds of wineries will be pouring literally thousands of wines. And we want you to join us!

We’ve got 2 pairs of tickets (retail value: $118 per pair) to give away to our loyal readers. All you have to do to win them is tell us that you want to go! Drop a line to [CONTEST COMPLETED] and provide the following information: Your name, complete mailing address, and email contact information. You must be a U.S. resident and 21 years old to win.

We’ll pick two winners at random (two tickets per winner) on January 22, 2010. Winners will be notified by email, and tickets will be held at will call at the entrance to the event. Please don’t enter if you aren’t certain you can be in San Francisco on January 30th. Travel and lodging are not included in the giveaway!

Good luck, and I hope to see you there!

The fine print: Contests and giveaways are open only to readers 21 years old and up, with a U.S. mailing address. One prize per person per giveaway. We reserve the right to cancel any giveaway at our sole discretion. We are not responsible for lost, misdirected, or late entries. Not open to employees/contributors or immediate family members of Drinkhacker employees/contributors, its affiliates, or advertising/promotion agencies and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents. This offer is void wherever prohibited or restricted by national, state, or any governmental laws. We are not responsible for late, lost, or damaged prize packages. We do not use your mailing address for any other purpose than sending prizes; addresses are not kept on file. One entry per contestant — your entry is good for the length of each giveaway. Duplicate entries will disqualify the entrant.

UPDATE: Congrats to Hector Maldonado and Gary McDonald, chosen randomly as winners for the contest!

Win Tickets to Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco

wow Win Tickets to Whiskies of the World Expo San FranciscoIf you like whiskey, Whiskies of the World Expo, an annual tasting event in San Francisco, is an essential night you’d be insane to miss out on. Hundreds of spirits will be on hand to sample, plus educational seminars, delicious foodstuffs, and a generally awesome night to be had by all.

This year the event will be held on March 27, 2010 at the glamorous Hotel Nikko, and Drinkhacker wants to get you there!

We’ve got 3 pairs of VIP tickets (retail value: $240 per pair) to give away to our loyal readers. All you have to do to win them is tell us that you want to go! Drop a line to contest@drinkhacker.com and provide the following information: Your name, complete mailing address, and email contact information. You must be a U.S. resident and 21 years old to win.

We’ll pick three winners at random (two tickets per winner) on March 1, 2010. Winners will be notified by email, and tickets will be mailed to you shortly thereafter. Please don’t enter if you aren’t certain you can be in San Francisco on March 27th. Travel and lodging are not included in the giveaway!

Good luck, and I hope to see you there!

The fine print: Contests and giveaways are open only to readers age 21 and up with a U.S. mailing address. One prize per person per giveaway. We reserve the right to cancel any giveaway at our sole discretion. We are not responsible for lost, misdirected, or late entries. Not open to employees/contributors or immediate family members of Drinkhacker employees/contributors, its affiliates, or advertising/promotion agencies and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents. This offer is void wherever prohibited or restricted by national, state, or any governmental laws. We are not responsible for late, lost, or damaged prize packages. We do not use your mailing address for any other purpose than sending prizes; addresses are not kept on file. One entry per contestant — your entry is good for the length of each giveaway. Duplicate entries will disqualify the entrant.

Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

Booze: The gift that keeps on giving, whether you like it or not. It’s now tradition at Drinkhacker to look back at the best new spirits of the year, offering our suggestions on our favorite tipples — and the stuff that’s most likely to impress your holiday giftee should he find a neatly wrapped bottle under the tree. As always, we’ve tried to offer suggestions in a variety of price ranges, with a focus on spirits a bit out of the ordinary — as long as, no matter what the price, it’s the best stuff on the shelf.

Also check out our 2008 holiday guide.

Bourbon – Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Years Old (2009 Edition) – $350 – A hugely expensive and hugely delicious bourbon that will impress your giftee until he’s three sheets to the wind. More affordable choices include Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 Edition, a complete steal at $26, or the always-good George T. Stagg limited edition bourbon; the 2009 is a real standout.

macallan 1824 4 bottle lineup 274x300 Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasScotch – Macallan 1824 Collection — prices vary — This collection of four different whiskys was bviously not distilled in 1824 (it’s just an homage), but your giftee doesn’t have to know that. For a real splurge: Laphroaig 25 Years Old is a rare knockout.

AbsintheVieux Carre – $60 - The absinthe craze is finally on the wane, and fewer new brands popped up in 2009 than last year. Vieux Carre, made in Philadelphia, is arguably the best.

GinBulldog - $25 – I love everything about this gin, which is light, fresh, and inexpensive. Also check out Citadelle Reserve, which is aged and unique — any gin drinker will find it quite the departure from Tanqueray.

Vodka – Any tea-infused vodka– less than $20 – Tea-flavored vodkas are the booze trend of the year, and for good reason, they taste great! Firefly and Jeremiah Weed are both outstanding. For a good unflavored vodka pick, check out Van Gogh Blue or Vermont Gold.

Rum – Appleton Reserve — $24 – You won’t find a better rum at this price level on the market. Brugal Extra Viejo is comparable in price and quality.  For Captain Morgan fans, hook them up with The Kraken and you’ll blow their mind.

bache gabrielsen hors dage 185x300 Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasBrandy – Bache-Gabrielsen Hors d’Age Cognac — $400 – Not just a killer cognac, it’s the best sub-$1,000 spirit I tried this year. I have one, sad, half-ounce drop left in the sample I received at the end of September. I can’t bring myself to finish it off.

TequilaCasa Noble - $40 to $60 – This line of tequilas is both delicious across the board, from blanco to anejo, and the bottles are pretty enough to gift without wrapping. 901 is good for a silver. Or try mezcal: Mijes Joven is the best I tried in ’09.

Liqueur – J. Witty Chamomile Liqueur - $25 – Continuing the tea craze is this exotic and very spicy liqueur, flavored with chamomile leaves and other essences. For fans of the bitter stuff, look into Root Liqueur. I also wholeheartedly recommend just about anything from the Thatcher’s Organic line.

Need another custom gift idea? Drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll offer my best advice!

How It’s Made: Johnnie Walker Black Label

johnny walker kit 300x225 How Its Made: Johnnie Walker Black LabelEver wonder how blended Scotch whisky is made? Well tomorrow I get the opportunity to find out firsthand by blending my own. Johnnie Walker sent this awesome kit (see right, click for large version) full of single malt and grain whiskeys, and during an hour-long session we’ll be blending our own Black Label under the tutelage of the company’s master distillers.

We’re blending this afternoon. Will report back when we’re finished and let you know how my whisky turned out!

UPDATE: Wow, that was fun and informative, and getting to taste six different malt whiskys from six different parts of Scotland (plus a grain whisky), side by side, was quite eye-opening. Real Black Label is blended from about 40 different whiskys, but even working with these seven to concoct my own spirit.

The blend I eventually used looks like this:

25% grain whisky
10% Lowland malt
10% Speyside malt
20% sherry cask malt
25% Highland malt
10% island malt

I skipped adding the heavily peaty Islay malt for my blend. Results? Perfectly palatable but surprisingly light considering how much Highland and sherry cask malt made up the blend. Typical blended whiskys have more than 50% grain whisky in the mix, but frankly I could have done with none at all.

Thanks to Johnnie Walker for an extremely informative, fun, and — as you can see from the photo below — involved experience.

makin whiskyjpg How Its Made: Johnnie Walker Black Label

Whisky Live Discount Codes

I can’t make it to any Whisky Live events this year, but my loss is your gain. Here are some discount codes for three of the upcoming sessions. Use them in good health!

Los Angeles, Oct. 20th, Discount code for 20% is la09web219

Toronto, Oct. 23rd, Discount code for 10% is to09web119

Ft. Lauderdale, Oct. 28th, Discount code for 20% is ft09web219

San Francisco WhiskyFest Approaches – October 16, 2009

The single best night of the year in spirits approaches — we’re just three months away from San Francisco’s WhiskyFest. I’m going, and so should you. Here’s everything you need to know to get there!

WhiskyFest San Francisco

America’s largest whisky celebration returns to San Francisco for the 3rd year with over 200 of the rarest – and most expensive – whiskies from around the globe available for tasting. Put on by Malt Advocate, the premiere magazine for the whisky enthusiast, WhiskyFest will again feature an educational focus that will let distillers not only explain how whisky is made, but also how to identify, sniff, swirl, and enjoy one of the most revered spirits in the world.

Event Details

The 3rd Annual WhiskyFest San Francisco will take place at the San Francisco Marriott on Friday, October 16, 2009 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. Attendees will be given the opportunity to sample over 200 of the most exclusive whiskies in the world, enjoy a gourmet buffet, and learn about whiskies from master blenders and distillery managers.

The goal of WhiskyFest is to educate the public about whisky through industry leading speakers and thought-provoking seminars. A full list of speakers and seminar times will be available soon on the WhiskyFest website.

WhiskyWeek, the week leading up to WhiskyFest, will feature whisky-related events and promotions throughout the city at popular nightspots, restaurants, and bars. Details on specific venues will be available soon at WhiskyFest San Francisco.

Why

“We are looking to continue to educate consumers and connoisseurs alike about whisky. In addition, we hope to raise some funds for charity by having some extremely rare whiskies available for sampling for a small charitable donation (details on the whiskies being poured will be available in the coming weeks). We will also involve the community with dinners and tastings leading up the event and give whisky enthusiasts the chance to taste some incredibly rare whiskies and meet the makers behind the barrels. That’s exactly what will occur at WhiskyFest San Francisco on October 16, 2009.” – John Hansell, Publisher, Malt Advocate magazine

Who

WhiskyFest is brought to you by Malt Advocate magazine.

Sponsors

WhiskyFest is sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

Tickets

Regular Admission: $105 (includes Scottish crystal tasting glass, 1-year subscription to Malt Advocate magazine, event program with tasting notes section, all seminars, gourmet buffet and beverages throughout the evening)

VIP Admission: $150 (includes all of the above plus one hour early admission with limited ticketing, special VIP hour only whiskies, and canvas tote bag).

For more information on ticket sales or event information, visit www.WhiskyFest.com

Herradura’s Cinco de Mayo Fun Facts

I have no idea if these “cinco fun facts” about Cinco de Mayo are 100% accurate — Herradura sent them along — but they’re fun to read while you’re sipping tequila, Pacifico, or whatever else floats your boat on this fine drinking day.

1. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla where Mexico defeated French troops that outnumbered them almost two-to-one – after only two hours of fighting! The holiday has been celebrated in California since 1863, as a symbol of solidarity in response to the French occupation of Mexico from 1863-1867.

2. Cinco de Mayo is the largest tequila consumption day in the U.S. In fact, Americans can’t get enough of Mexico’s native spirit. Since 2002, U.S. imports of tequila have grown 48% – an average rate of 6.7% per year. In 2008 alone, more than 10.6 million 9-liter cases were sold. Tequila volume continues to grow despite the current recession.

3. Cinco de Mayo is so popular in Texas, that the State Legislation only allows the sale of fireworks on New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, Texas’ Independence Day in June, and, in some border areas, for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

4. The spirit of Cinco de Mayo can be seen across U.S. pop culture; in fact, War released a music hit from its 1982 Outlaw album titled “Cinco de Mayo” and in 1998, the U.S. Postal Service released a postage stamp to commemorate the holiday.

5. During the French occupation, Mexico’s cuisine absorbed French culinary tradition leading to the creation of many delicacies still popular today. Some examples are the chiles en nogada (stuffed chilies in a walnut sauce), conejo en mostaza (rabbit in mustard sauce) and volovanes (puffy pastries based on the French vol-au-vent).

San Francisco Cocktail Week Events Announced [Updated 4/21]

SF’s Cocktail Week — May 11 to May 18 — is shaping up. Full details on the schedule of events follow. See you there!

**Please note that event details are tentative and may be subject to change.** Updates are available here.

Monday May 11, 2009

–Kick off Party hosted at Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place

6:00-9:00 p.m.

$25 tickets via www.snagtickets.com; includes light food and two signature cocktails. All attendees must be 21 & over, please.

Tuesday May 12, 2009

–United States Bartenders Guild National Competition presented by Tres Generaciones at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room

The San Francisco Local Competition starts at 11 am, and the winner will then compete in a National Competition, which begins at 5 pm.
For more information about the competition, or for invitations to the event, please contact norcalusbg@gmail.com.

–Industry Appreciation Night featuring Barbary Coast Cocktails

Cantina, 580 Sutter Street

9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009-World Cocktail Day

–Fresh Produce and Cane Distillate Cocktails to Benefit the non-profit operator of the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA)

Cocktail demos showcasing some of San Francisco’s most creative bartenders

CUESA Kitchen at the San Francisco Ferry Building

5:30-8:30 p.m.

$30.00 via Brown Paper Tickets includes two full cocktails, tastes of all demonstrated cocktails, and passed appetizers prepared by local Bay Area Chefs. All attendees must be 21 & over, please.

–After party to benefit The Museum of the American Cocktail: Elixir Charity Guest Bartending with Special Visiting Guest Bartenders TBA

Elixir, corner of 16th and Guerrero

9:00 p.m.

All attendees must be 21 & over, please.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

–Bar School-A Day of Education

Various seminars across the city being taught by industry gurus-Jeff Hollinger & Neyah White, Carlos Yturria, Jon Santer, H. Joseph Ehrmann, Dominic Venegas, Duggan McDonnell & Jordan Mackay, among others.

Various classes, times and locations, please refer to website for details on schedule, tickets, and costs

Friday, May 15, 2009

–National Cocktail Week Happy Hour

Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar, 369 Embarcedero

$25.00 via www.snagtickets.com includes featured cocktails and appetizers

5:00-9: 00 p.m.

All attendees must be 21 & over, please.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

–San Francisco Historical Cocktail Crawl with guest guides including Marcia Gagliardi, of tablehopper.com

All attendees must be 21 & over, please

2:00-6:00 p.m.

STARTING LOCATION TO BE ANNOUNCED ON WEBSITE

Also on Saturday:
Learn to make two spring drinks with acclaimed bartender and author Scott Beattie and hear about small batch distilling from Lou Bustamante of St. George Spirits and Hangar One Vodka. Each guest will have extensive hands-on time with Scott, and instruction includes side recipes, garnish how-to, foams, and rim sugars and salts. Drinks will feature Hangar One Vodka and fresh, seasonal fruit from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Guests will enjoy the drinks they have learned to make–”Rhubarbarella” and “Beau Regards”– and signed copied of Beattie’s book, “Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus” will be for sale.  Class is $40 per person, with proceeds benefiting CUESA.

Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets. All attendees must be 21 & over, please.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Please party responsibly at Bay to Breakers

Sunday Evening:

–Erik Ellestad Recreates the Savoy Cocktail Book at Alembic

Alembic, 1725 Haight Street

5:00 p.m.

Admission into The Alembic is free, although guests will be charged for cocktails consumed. Attendees must be 21 or over, please.

Monday, May 18, 2009

–Closing Gala

Jardinière, 300 Grove Street

6:00-9:00 p.m.

$45 via www.snagtickets.com includes appetizers, drinks and a gift bag

All attendees must be 21 & over, please

Coming Soon: San Francisco Pinot Days

Pinot lovers, get ready: June 25 to June 28, the pinot noir will be flowing freely at Fort Mason. Pinot Days is on the way!

Tickets for the Grand Tasting, Sunday June 28th from 1pm to 5pm, are just 50 bucks, a great bargain!

I’ll be on the floor, tasting wine and taking notes — please say hi if you encounter me at the event!

Upcoming: Toast of the Town 2009 – March 26, 2009

For the third year, Wine Enthusiast magazine will be throwing its Toast of the Town wine event in San Francisco. This year features 70-plus wineries from all over the world plus food from 30 Bay Area restaurants, all inside the glorious confines of the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.

Tickets are $75 to $185 (buy yours early for a deal) and proceeds benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. I’ll be on the scene, with a wine report after the event, so say hi if you see me there. Still, as good as the wine looks, it’s the food that really has me slavering. Consider these participating restaurants and you’ll see what I mean!

Ana Mandara, Asia de Cuba, Aurea, Bistro Boudin, Café Gibraltar, Campton Place, Cheese Plus, Chez Papa Resto, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Cliff House, Castagnola’s, Daffodil, Epic Roasthouse, étoile at Domaine Chandon, First Crush, Go Fish, Home of Chicken and Waffles, Jeanty at Jack’s, Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse, Masa’s, Millennium Restaurant, Mustards Grill, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Postrio, Rivoli Restaurant, Rose Pistola, Shanghai 1930, Shokolaat, The Girl and the Fig, The Slanted Door, Trattoria Corso, and Zinnia.

Space is limited. Find tickets and get more information at wineenthusiast.com.

Buy Some Wine, Do Something Good

Benefiting The Young School in St. Helena, California… some pretty impressive auction items, including:

  • 2005 3L Harlan Napa Valley Red Wine
  • 1.5L horizontal collection of 2005 Bond (Melbury, Vecina, St. Eden, Pluribus)
  • 1.5L Levy & McClellan 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1.5L Sloan Red Wine vertical collection (2003, 2004, 2005)

Check out the full catalog at the above link!

February 22 Is National Margarita Day

Most people don’t need an official pronouncement to drink margaritas, but every little bit helps, I guess.

Tomorrow is National Margarita Day (for real), Did you know?

In honor, our friends at Tequila Herradura — which claims to have been the first tequila ever used in a margarita cocktail — offers some fun facts for the occasion.

  • The original Margarita was invented in 1948 by socialite Margarita Sames. According to the legend it was during a party at her cliffside hacienda in Acapulco that Margarita began experimenting with “the drink”. Looking for something to cut the dust of a hot afternoon, she mixed Tequila Herradura, Cointreau and fresh lime juice. Her cocktail kept the party going for two weeks and today the Margarita is the #1 most popular cocktail in the U.S.
  • The Margarita was the most popularly ordered drink in 2008, representing 18 percent of all mixed drink sales in the U.S., followed by the Martini, Rum and Coke, Vodka and Tonic, and the Cosmopolitan (Cheers On-Premise Handbook 2008)
  • On average, Americans consume 185,000 Margaritas per hour (Brown-Forman, 2008)
  • Margarita consumption peaked in the South accounting for 34.9 percent of sales; markets include Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Texas etc. (Cheers On-Premise Handbook 2008)
  • Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis and Nashville are among the best major metro cities for the Margarita (Cheers On-Premise Handbook 2008)
  • The first frozen margarita machine was invented in 1971 and it was based off a soft-serve ice cream machine
  • The U.S. is the number one tequila market – larger and more important than Mexico (Cheers On-Premise Handbook 2008)

Free Drinks in Your Neighborhood

God, this is a great idea. Myopenbar.com tells you where and when you can get free drinks in New York City, SF, LA, Chicago, Honolulu, or Miami, pretty much every day of the week. Some require purchase of food or a cover charge, some are promo events, and some require lady parts. NYC gets most of the action.

The New York Times has the sordid backstory.

75th Anniversary of Prohibition’s Repeal

75 years ago, this blog would not have been possible. Never mind that computers and the Internet didn’t exist — alcohol was illegal, too!

On December 5th, Prohibition’s Repeal celebrates its 75th anniversary: It was 1933 when we were finally cured of our disastrous 13-year run of bathtub gin and bootlegging. Colorful times, to be sure, but hardly the way a sophisticated country works.

Check out more information about the big event at the Jeff Morgenthaler’s RepealDay.org or the Distilled Spirits Council’s ProhibitionRepeal.com website. And, it should go without saying, knock a couple back today!

Happy St. Andrew’s Day

St. Patrick gets all the press, but Scotland has its own patron saint: Saint Andrew (who else?), and he has his own day of celebration, too: November 30.

Pick up a glass of your finest single malt and raise it toward our neighbors across the pond. Even if you aren’t Scottish, good old Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia, Sicily, Greece, Romania, and Malta. He also protects all army rangers, mariners, fisherman (and fishmongers), singers, performers, and — last but not least — rope-makers.

Drinkhacker’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

What better gift is there than a bottle of booze? Not only will your giftee think you’re incredibly sophisticated, chances are he’ll let you drink a good amount of it before he realizes his terrible mistake. What’s the best booze to put under the tree this Christmas season? Of course you want to offer something a little unusual — something that your buddy couldn’t pick up himself on a routine trip to the grocery store, at least — but above all it has to be good. Here are my picks for the absolute best booze to give for 2008, split up by type (and with at least a few good, affordable options for the budget-conscious).

Bourbon – Eagle Rare 17 Year Old (2008 Edition) – $65 – An awesomely sweet bourbon that’s just the right age. Jump on this near-perfect spirit for yourself, too. For a bit more check out Four Roses Mariage Collection, though it can be tough to find. At just $40, Basil Hayden’s is always a worthy present that won’t break the bank and is on just about every liquor store shelf.

highland park 18 year 200x300 Drinkhackers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide   Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasScotch – Highland Park 18 Year Old - $100 – Yeah, it’s expensive, but the quality is second to none — and other top picks released this year, like Glenlivet XXV, run twice as much money or more. HP18 is generally accessible in the market, and it’s sure to liven up any holiday gathering.

AbsintheObsello - $54 - The best absinthe on the market today is also one of the cheapest. This Spanish number is suitable for absinthe newcomers and veterans alike; it goes down easy while still offering complex, intricate herbal flavors. The new Pernod is also worth a look.

Gin – Whitley Neill - $30 – Some good gin to be found in 2008, but I like the African genesis story behind this unusual gin from Whitley Neill the best. Bluecoat‘s also good. Both are pretty widely available and will make any G&T fan perk up.

Vodka – Xellent - $40 – If you must give someone vodka this year (and really, I beg you to think a little more creatively), try this strikingly-bottled vodka from Switzerland.

rhum clement cuvee homere 21 241x300 Drinkhackers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide   Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasRum – Rhum Clement Cuvee Homere - $85 - So many good rums out this year, but the Cuvee Homere Clement is too good not to recommend, and the bottle design alone makes it absolutely perfect for gift-giving. Hard to go wrong in this category though, with Zacapa, Oronoco, and Atlantico all good alternatives. Click the “rum” button at right for even more ideas.

TequilaJose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Anejo 2008 - $100 – If you can find and afford it. Alternately try anything from the Cielo line, which is uniformly good from blanco to anejo.

Brandy – Delamain Extra de Grande Champagne - $399 – Didn’t try many brandies this year, but this number from Delamain was easily the best of them, among the top spirits I’ve ever had. Delamain also has a gift box of three of its cognacs in mini-bottles that would be a great gift.

Liqueur – Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur - $32 – Many iffy liqueurs came out this year, but Canton is an exception, by far the most intriguing of the category. You can add a few drops to just about any cocktail recipe and discover something new, and giftees will absolutely adore the packaging even if they never open it. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is another winning concoction that everyone totally loves.

Need another custom gift idea? Drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll offer my best advice!