Choosing stocking presents is my favourite kind of present buying. The stakes aren’t too high, so you can have a bit of fun.
Japan’s Kyoto Distillery has a gift set comprising three different 20cl expressions of its excellent rice-based gin: Classic (with botanicals including yuzu and sansho berries); a Navy-strength version; and Ki No Tea, which is embellished with tencha and gyokuro teas, blended in Kyoto (£59.99, selfridges.com).
Another of-the-moment tasting set is the Single Barrel Rum Selection from The Whisky Exchange. Comprised of six 3cl drams from around the Caribbean and Latin America, it showcases how delicious, and diverse, this spirit can be (£54.95, thewhiskyexchange.com).
Negroni lovers would surely relish cracking open the limited-edition “Fergroni” from London’s St John (see also The Gannet) this Christmas. Created in collaboration with Campari for the restaurant’s 25th anniversary, this blend of Tanqueray, Punt e Mes and Campari is chef Fergus Henderson’s recipe. The liquid is divine, but it’s the futurist-style portrait of Henderson on the label that makes it worth buying (£42, stjohnrestaurant.com).
If the recipient is a bit been-there-done-that about Negronis, then something esoteric from Denmark’s Empirical Spirits Co is sure to impress. Fallen Pony is a genre-defying distillate made from koji, barley and quince kombucha tea – see what I mean? (£45.95, masterofmalt.com).
Eco-minded cocktailians might also like an alternative to the plastic straw – a set of six gold-plated straws (£14.25, cocktailkingdom.co.uk) or 25 skull-patterned paper straws (£3.50, cheekytiki.com) would look very smart.
If they usually drink sauternes at Christmas, broaden their horizons with a half-bottle of 2017 Straw Wine from South Africa’s Mullineux family – this fragrant wine is just one reason this Swartland winery is the critics’ darling (£27, swig.co.uk).
But The Goblet isn’t just about booze: a luxury I love to receive at Christmas is some really exquisite tea. This year I’ve got my eye on the Lotus Lake Green from Postcard Teas, an ultra-rare tea from Vietnam that is painstakingly scented with the stamens of lotus flowers (£19.95, postcardteas.com). Amber-pink, it’s softly spicy, with notes of vanilla, manuka honey and sarsaparilla, and a hint of pepper.
If I were to give one thing, however, it would have to be the latest version of the Coravin – this device, which allows you to pour a glass of wine without uncorking the bottle or, importantly, degrading the contents inside, has changed my life. I’m not sure it’s made me drink less wine, but it’s definitely made me enjoy it more (from £199, coravin.co.uk).
Alice Lascelles is Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019. @alicelascelles.