- Photo courtesy of Falcon Spirits
- Falcon Spirits’ Amaro Aplomado has a light, smooth mouthfeel.
If your gifting sensibilities lean toward the boozy end of the spectrum, we have you covered. The East Bay is awash in locally made beer, wine, spirits, and mixers, so you can feel extra rosy about your purchases. And nothing makes someone's cheeks as rosy and festive as a bottle of whiskey.
You can find most of these bottles at Alchemy Bottle Shop (3256 Grand Ave., Oakland) and Craft Beer & Wine (2526 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda).
Bourbon, Home Base Spirits, $50
If you're shopping for someone who is always looking to try the newest small-batch whiskey on the market, a bottle from Home Base Spirits might be your best bet. Oakland twin sisters Samantha and Alexandra Blatteis launched the company last fall with a focus on top-notch ingredients. Batch five is in stores now, and it uses organic corn from Sacramento and malted barley and organic rye from Oregon farms. Aged 18 months, this bourbon is a smooth sipper reminiscent of apple pie, with a fragrant base of vanilla and caramel.
Absinthe Supérieure Blanche from Absinthia Bottled Spirits, $35
Until this fall, there was only one artisanal absinthe in the area. While we love St. George Spirits, it's nice to shake things up on occasion. And for those new to absinthe, Absinthia's more traditional style is approachable. It's light, clean, and absurdly smooth, with a subtle herbaceous flavor. Burning Man regulars would especially appreciate Absinthia's backstory: Oakland's J. Absinthia Vermut tried the spirit for the first time at a Burner event in San Francisco and subsequently began serving her own absinthe at the desert festival.
Amaro Aplomado from Falcon Spirits Distillery, $29
Amaro, the Italian herbal liqueur, has becoming increasingly trendy around the Bay Area, popping up in cocktails or served as aperitifs. Instead of shelling out for an imported amaro, try Amaro Aplomado, made by Falcon Spirits Distillery in Richmond. It's an unusual, modern take on the liqueur with a brandy base and 25 locally sourced roots, herbs, fruits, and flowers. California artichokes assume a starring role, but the most surprising part of this amaro is actually its light, smooth mouthfeel — Falcon uses far less sugar than most brands, and it shows.
Death Become Life from Cali Crü Wines, $20
The local music lover in your life might dig the backstory of this sparkling wine. Composer JooWan Kim, artistic director of Oakland's hip-hop orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj, started getting into natural wine after visiting The Punchdown. He teamed up with winemaker Barbara Davis to craft this unfiltered pétillant naturel, which Kim named after a prayer he wrote upon his mother and grandfather dying in the same three-month period. Made with chardonnay grapes from the Dry Creek Valley, this food-friendly, easy-drinker balances tart effervescence with ripe, juicy flavors. Bonus: 20 percent of the proceeds go toward the ensemble's nonprofit educational programs. Pick up a bottle at The Punchdown, Wine on Piedmont, Vino, or Ledgers Liquor.Miknawooj.com/shop
Stone Crusher from Donkey & Goat Winery, $32
Perhaps you watched the most recent season of Master of None and now all of your friends are interested in orange wine. You're in luck. Donkey & Goat, the natural winery in Berkeley, makes one of these rare, orange-tinted wines. It's actually white wine made from Roussanne grapes that rests on the skins for 12 days, developing tannins and its distinctive color. Don't think this is going to be like a light rosé, though. Stone Crusher would be a great pairing for hearty holiday fare.
Donkey & Goat Winery & Tasting Room, 1340 Fifth St., Berkeley, DonkeyandGoat.com
Spicy Ginger Shrub from Shrub & Co, $21.99
Get this Berkeley-made shrub, otherwise known as drinking vinegar, for the budding mixologist in your life. As opposed to ginger beer, ginger ale, or even ginger syrup, this ginger shrub boasts a much more intense, spicy bite, balanced by the refreshing tang of vinegar. It pairs especially well with bourbon and would elevate a Dark and Stormy into something really special.
Shrub Gift Set from INNA, $28
If ginger doesn't sound quite right, you could opt for this sampler of four mini 100ml bottles, wrapped up in a box with a pretty ribbon. Given INNA's brilliance with jams, you can expect the Emeryville company's fruit-flavored shrubs to be especially good. With the gift set, you also get to choose the flavors, and there are many: strawberry, lime, apricot, grapefruit, blackberry, plum, quince, and more. Pick it up directly from the INNA kitchen with advance notice.
INNA, 1307 61st St., Emeryville, 510-214-6620, INNAJam.com
For beer lovers, you can't go wrong with a growler or bomber from one of the East Bay's many wonderful breweries. There are too many to name, but here are a few of our favorites: Ale Industries (3096 E 10th St., Oakland), Drake's Brewing Company (1933 Davis St., Ste. 177, San Leandro), Faction Brewing (2501 Monarch St., Alameda), Fieldwork Brewing Co. (1160 Sixth St., Berkeley), Temescal Brewing (4115 Telegraph Ave., Oakland), and The Rare Barrel (940 Parker St., Berkeley). If you're looking to impress a beer nerd with one of the East Bay's newer brews, try Armistice Brewing Company (845 Marina Bay Pkwy., Ste. 1, Richmond) or Federation Brewing (420 3rd St., Oakland) — but they're probably way ahead of you.