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Fodor’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Food and Booze

From Grecian liquor that makes you blind to Japan’s top banana, we’ve got something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

So, you’ve started to put together your holiday shopping list and you’ve hit a dead end thanks to that one person (or several) that’s just impossible to shop for. Now that you think about it, you’re not even sure what their favorite color is. But before you resign yourself to going the gift card route, consider this: food and drink. Now, consider further: a trip around the world via food and drink.

After all, the best thing about the holiday season is gathering your favorite people into one spot and sharing delicious things to eat and drink. Why not take your friends or family on a round-the-world tasting tour without having to leave the comfort of home?

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Twelve Nights of Wine

The experience of opening up a flimsy door on your cardstock advent calendar to unveil a thumb-nail sized piece of low-grade milk chocolate isn’t as thrilling as an adult as when you were a kid. But a wine advent calendar? You can finally recapture that Christmastime magic of childhood in the booziest way possible. The Twelve Nights of Wine contains 12 carefully curated glasses of wine that hail from France, Italy, Spain and more. Ah. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

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Raw Spice Bar

It’s so easy to fall into a cooking-creativity rut. Once you’ve learned a few recipes and tricks that work, it’s hard to break out of that routine. And while new vegetables and fruits are one thing, there’s something much more fundamental to keep your cooking interesting: spices.

And if striking out solo sounds daunting, let Raw Spice Bar lead the way. Raw Spice Bar is a quarterly subscription service that sends recipients 6 freshly ground seasonal spices. Because it’s one thing to learn a new recipe or two, and it’s another thing to be given the building blocks of a whole new culinary outlook.

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Brettos Plaka

If the thought of ouzo has you tensing up with memories (or lack thereof) of an evening (or two) gone awry, don’t worry. While Brettos Plaka Ouzo, from the oldest distillery in Athens, does sport a staggering 40 percent alcohol content, it’s smoother than you’d believe. This ouzo is rounded out by the use of aromatic herbs and mastic. Serve it over ice or with a splash of water and you’ll feel like you’re in a small, Grecian shop decorated from floor to ceiling in colorful liquor bottles.

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9 Varietal Honey Flight

There’s something so decadent about honey, with its rich golden hues and sweet flavor. Maybe that’s why the ancient Greeks said it was the literal food of the gods.

So give the gift that’ll have you feeling like Zeus himself. Give the gift of the 9 Varietal Honey Flight from Bee Raw. Each of the honeys (which hail from all over the U.S.) in the flight are raw, which means they haven’t been heated, processed, or filtered. This way, each honey’s floral profiles are preserved, resulting in the unique array of flavors, textures, and colors.

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Del Maguey Vida Mezcal

There’s nothing wrong with taking a little salt, a lime wedge, and a shot of tequila now and then, but when it comes to agave-based liquor, it’s time to think outside the margarita mixer. Namely, it’s time to think about mezcal.

If you or someone you know is getting caught up in mezcal’s surge of popularity in the U.S., Del Maguey’s Vida is the perfect gift. What makes Vida a good gift for someone getting into mezcal is its versatility. Yes, you can use it in cocktails in order to get that wonderful smoky quality the agave-based liquor is famous for. But it’s also an approachable choice for sipping neat, thanks to the flavorful notes of fruit aromatics, honey, and vanilla.


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Marzipan & Pistachio Twist

You’ve got pistachios. You’ve got marzipan. The Marzipan & Pistachio twist is truly a prime case of two great tastes that taste great together.

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Bundaberg Ginger Beer

There are a number of instances that make Bundaberg Ginger Beer the perfect gift. Did you gift someone a set of Moscow mule mugs last year and figure they don’t need a second set? Do you know someone that always seems to have a nervous stomach? Maybe you know someone that likes things that are good? Because that’s really the only question you need to ask yourself if you’re thinking of giving someone a pack of this Australian ginger beer.

Does this person like things made with quality ingredients? Bundaberg is made with real Queensland ginger and cane sugar. Does this person like things that are crisp and refreshing? Prepare to be refreshed like you’ve never been refreshed before.

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Pacari Chocolate

There are any number of reasons to gift someone a pack (or a lush gift box) of Pacari Chocolate. Their variants have won gold, silver, and bronze honors in multiple categories from the International Chocolate Awards. And of course it’s organic, locally sourced, and the company goes above and beyond fair trade regulations.

Then, of course, there’s the chocolate itself. There are numerous delicious varieties to choose from, from the simple dark chocolate to the Raw line (which means the ingredients are minimally processed and kept at low temperatures for a more complex flavor profile). You’ll never look at chocolate-covered anything the same way once you’ve sampled their chocolate covered banana pieces, goldenberries, and espresso beans.

But really all you need to know is Oprah Herself has anointed Pacari (specifically the lemongrass bar) with her approval.

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There’s really nothing like a post-holiday dinner Bailey’s—all the boozy, desert-like yumminess without the egginess of eggnog! But consider mixing up your cream-liqueur tradition with Amarula. Amarula is made from cream (natch), sugar, and the fruit African Marula Tree. The thing that makes this a cream liqueur with a twist is the hint of citrus and pepper that keeps the more traditional flavors of vanilla, caramel, and chocolate from being overwhelmingly sweet. It’s delicious over ice, in a cocktail, or drizzled over ice cream.

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Tokyo Banana

At first glance, you may mistake the Tokyo Banana as a mere Twinkie. It’s made of yellow spongey cake and is Twinkie-like in size and shape (though it does have the telltale curve of a banana). But the Tokyo Banana is far from the garden-variety Hostess snack cake. Unlike the notoriously apocalypse-proof Twinkie, the Tokyo Banana is made honest-to-goodness fresh.  And that distinction makes all the difference. The sponge cake is as fluffy as an angel and it’s filled with a creamy, lightly banana flavored custard that’s just the right amount of sweet. There are a variety of variations or “specials” which include everything from chocolate and caramel to Matcha cream and bean paste.

The only trouble is that the Tokyo Banana can be a little tricky to obtain outside of Japanese airports and train stations. But if you’re willing to plunk down more than you would in Japan, head to Amazon or YamiBuy for a little yellow confectionary treat.


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