Bottle bag gifting seems to change very little from one Christmas to the next. If autopilot spirits like Gordons, Bacardi and Jameson are likely to incite the same insipid "thanks" this year, take the advice of Brum's grain and grape masters, all resident at bars or restaurants that specialise in the drop they speak to.
Gin — 40 St Pauls: "Made by the most awarded Riesling winery in Germany, Ferdinand's blend their wine into the base of their gin and add 30 organically grown botanicals from their fertile grounds into the mix. For such complexity, their Saar Dry Gin is superbly well balanced and absolutely delicious. For a day-to-day go-to, Beefeater 24 has the name and the history behind it, and the taste to go with it." - Aman, Owner
Rum — The Cuban Embassy: "Botran rum is a Guatemalan brand. Their white Reserva Blanca is especially interesting. If you drink it with your eyes closed you would think it's golden. It's the nicest white rum I've ever tasted and the only one I'll drink neat. Their 18-year-old golden is also excellent. It's a Solera, meaning it's a blend of different ages, with 18 being the oldest. This helps mellow the flavour, giving character not harshness." - Nick, owner
Tequila — Bodega: "For its deep oaky aroma and rich taste, 1800 Añejo is my recommendation. Named after the first year tequila was produced, this variety is aged between eight and twelve years, with a minimum of fourteen months in French oak barrels. Though it's down to personal taste, it feels like a waste to drink this tequila anything but neat — which the smooth finish encourages you to do." - Louiza, assistant manager
Wine — Cheval Blanc: “At this time of year I love big, rich red wine and my favourite right now has to be the col. Mulscal Roos from BLANKbottle. Created by winemaker Peter Walser in the Western Cape, his wines are incredible because once they’re gone, they’re gone. He never makes the same wine twice. This one is a blend of Syrah and Grenache with a gorgeous rich, fruit filled palette and a finish that lasts and lasts." - Abigail, GM and sommelier
Vodka — The Rose Villa Tavern: "Babička (Ba-bitch-ka) is all round bonkers, absolutely brilliant, and different to anything else on the market. The Original Wormwood Vodka purports to revive the magic of a 500-year-old Czech witches brew. Whether or not it bewitches you, it's a great product with a floral bouquet. Also consider Two Birds' Chrimbalicious spiced vodka — an absolute humdinger, that feels like you're eating a mince pie in front of an open fire." - Ian, GM
Bourbon — Prince of Wales: "Four Roses has scooped Distiller of the Year four times consecutively. Definitely a staff favourite, their Single Barrel offering has a higher alcohol content than you might be used to, being bottled at 50% ABV. But it's still remarkably smooth. This is due in part to the corn that goes into making the spirit, but also the unique yeast strain used by Four Roses, which is known to give Christmassy vanilla and caramel notes." - Jim, cocktail manager
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