Concrete Playground's Holiday Drinks Gift Guide 2023

What’s the silly season without some tasty sips?
Orlaith Costello
December 04, 2023

It's the silly season, which means top tipples with your family, friends and work besties. Booze doesn't just make for a good time; it also makes for a great gift idea. If you're struggling to come up with a good grog gift this festive season, we've got you covered. Here's our round-up of drinks that tickled our fancy these holidays, from top-shelf whiskies to alcohol-removed wines. 

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WINE

'Tis the season to cheers to the sun, and what better way than with some natty wines for Friend-mas. If you have a mate who loves their natties or is just dipping their toes into this world of wild ferments, SPON by Odd Culture wine shop and bar has curated the ultimate gift pack dubbed the Natty Wine Primer. It includes a sparkling pét-nat, white, red (one best served chilled) and a couple of skin contact numbers (orange and rosé). If you're looking for more bubbles, it's also slinging a gift pack called The Most Wonderful Time of the Year with a sparkling shiraz perfect for Christmas day, a grand cru champagne for New Year's Eve and an easy-going pét-nat for New Year's Day brunch. 

If the vinophile on your gift list is all about tradition, a case of wine from one of Australia's first families of wine should be on your shopping list. Brown Family Wines is Aussie through and through and now has five wine brands under its belt: Brown Brothers, Pirie, Devil's Corner, Tamar Ridge, and Innocent Bystander. You can't go wrong with the new Tarrango chilled red wine for something youthful and fresh. For something plush and velvety, Devil's Corner has a range of Tassie pinots that will make for a great vino on the Christmas table. 

There's also a slew of wine advent calendars on the market, from Good Pair Days to Laithwaite's Wines, if you'd prefer to leave the wine selections up to the somms. Good Pair Days has some of the best merch out there for a wine-lover, and it's no different with the wine advent calendars on offer this year. You can choose from options with a picnic set, a wine chiller set, a beach box — complete with a tote bag, hat and towel — or the standard pack.

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WHISK(E)Y

Is your mum a fan of the dark spirits? Is your bestie a whisky fiend? Here are our top choices for the spirit savants in your lift this silly season. There are so many kinds of whiskies out there, but if you're on the lookout for something that's trying something new, you can't go wrong with Waterford Whisky. It's an Irish tipple that celebrates and advocates for terroir in whisky, and it only uses local Irish-grown grain with organic and biodynamic options on its roster. For something even more uncommon, opt for the peated version; it's the only whisky on the market that uses Irish peat to dry its barley. Plus, the blue glass bottle looks great on the shelf.

If you know your whisky-lover is a sucker for scotch, you could go for Waterford Whisky's spiritual cousin, Bruichladdich. Another dram that celebrates terroir (started by the same person, in fact). The unpeated, non-chill-filtered single malt whisky, The Classic Laddie, is a crowd-pleasing option that works for many palates. If you want to surprise them with some top-shelf whiskies, you can always check out The Whisky Ark, which offers premium membership options, and has an excellent selection of scotch like Tamdhu and Glengoyne as well as exclusive Japanese whiskies.

If you can't decide on a particular dram, leave the selection to the experts and go for an advent calendar. Liquor Loot puts out a gin and whisky calendar every year, and this year has expressions from Japan, Australia, Ireland, America, Scotland and more.

And if you want to gift something that will keep surprising them throughout the year, why not set them up with a Whisky Club membership? Every month, they'll receive a new and often exclusive drop like the festive collab from Westward Whiskey and Rutherglen winery Stanton & Killeen: the Westward Whiskey Vintage Muscat Cask. 

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GIN

What's Christmas without cocktails, and what are cocktails without gin? There are literally thousands of versions of gins on the market today. From Australian drops that highlight native botanicals like Hickson House and Green Ant Gin to Japanese takes highlighting unique flora like Roku. Gin is special because it is very malleable, taking on the flavour profiles of whatever botanical is used. 

Kangaroo Island Gin is a new favourite of ours, and it has just released a special Spiced Pudding Gin that will bring a festive flair to your mate's G&T with cinnamon, clove, dried fruits and spice. If you know your gin-tastic friend isn't into traditional festive flavours, Four Pillars has launched its collab with Go-To skincare, 'My New Go-To Gin' made with quandong (Australia's native peach) to amp up that stone fruit goodness, perfect for summery cocktails over the holidays.

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TEQUILA

Now, this spirit can be a bit of a dark horse, not unlike the person who usually calls for tequila shots at your Christmas holiday party. Why not go for the real deal, something extra special with a blow-the-budget option for your bestie with Herradura Legend? It is a first-of-its-kind Añejo tequila that has only recently launched in Australia. It's made with 100% blue weber agave that is traditionally cooked, naturally fermented, twice distilled, and matured for at least 12 months in heavily charred new American white oak barrels, resulting in soft caramel, toasted vanilla, oak, and lingering hints of agave. You could even convert some staunch whisky-only drinkers with this spirit. 

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FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Not everyone is reaching for the classic whiskies and bourbons. Some people like to be more adventurous with their palate with grappa, moonshine, ouzo, arak and rakija. Sydney-based DNA Distillery makes the traditional Balkan fruit brandy rakija with Aussie shiraz grapes in classic, gold and pear (made with Aussie pears) expressions, perfect for your friend who has no more space on their wine rack and is over gin. It even has a gift box perfect for the flavour seeker in your life looking for something new.

Did you have a mate who finally got to go on their Euro summer and hasn't been quiet about it since? Let them relive that luxe-Euro vibe with Tommy's Booze. The Melbourne-based Italian liquor company has put together a gift set with full-sized bottles of limoncello, mandarino, and lampone, perfect for those who love a refreshing digestif after the Christmas feast.

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NON-ALCOHOLIC

If you have a mate who has opted to be dry, there's no reason not to treat them to the excellent non-alc options out there. Like Edenvale Wines, alcohol-removed wines are mindfully made to recreate the flavour profile of traditional alcoholic wines. We loved the GSM blend that tricked our unofficial drinks expert. 

For people who love the taste of beer but not the buzz, Heaps Normal is a crowd favourite, but Capital Brewing Co. is also pushing out some quality booze-free brews. And if you want to give them a selection, Beer Cartel has you covered with its cracking alcohol-free craft beer mixed pack. 

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Top Images: Our Whisky Foundation Christina Kernohan, Liquor Loot.

Published on December 04, 2023 by Orlaith Costello
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