Happy Hour

Holiday Gifting Ideas

The holiday season is all about spreading joy, and this year, a little cheer means more than ever. And what better way to raise people’s spirits than with, well, spirits? T&S reached out to Mark Bullock, the general manager of the new Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Chesterfield, for his gift recommendations. “It’s always good to find out what someone likes to drink first,” he says. “If they prefer something more fruit forward, American wines are the way to go, but if they prefer something more acidic, you may want to try European ones. There’s something out there for everyone. It just takes a couple key questions to drive you in the right direction to find the perfect gift.”

bring on the bubbles
What would the holidays be without sparkling wine? Bullock recommends sticking with a classic: Champagne. His pick is Vilmart and Cie. “It’s a phenomenal option that isn’t going to break the bank,” he says. “It’s a Premier Cru with a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, and the grapes are all harvested by hand. One of its greatest strengths is that it can be paired with almost anything and works as an apéritif. It’s versatile and celebratory. The perfect choice for the holidays and New Year’s.”

from down under
For the perfect drink on cold winter nights, Bullock recommends Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny. This Australian wine features Mourvèdre, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache grape varieties. “As a tawny, it is made in a similar fashion to a port,” he says. “During the fermentation process, brandy is added. It kills the yeast to stop it from eating the sugar and raises the alcohol to 20%. Tasting notes include caramel, vanilla, dried fruit and hazelnut so it pairs perfectly with Christmas desserts. Plus, it really warms the chest.”

a mature selection
Someone on your list not a wine lover? Bullock suggests Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask Scotch Whisky. “This scotch is matured in traditional oak barrels and then transferred into rum casks,” he explains. “The cask transfer gives it smooth, honey characteristics and brings out toffee and fruit notes. It’s a very warm scotch that’s perfect for winter. Plus, it’s a great value. It costs around $70, but drinks like something that runs more than $100.”

all set
Instead of just one bottle, consider gifting the elements needed to craft a great cocktail. “I recommend helping someone elevate their Manhattan game,” Bullock says. “Luxardo cherries are a great garnish. They’re on the expensive side, but they make a huge difference in cocktails when compared to regular maraschino cherries.” Along with ingredients, he suggests supplies like wine carrying bags, Riedel wine glasses and large ice cube molds.

bullock’s manhattan
2 oz. Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
0.25 oz. Amaro
0.75 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 drizzle of Luxardo cherry syrup

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and stir for 15 seconds.
  2. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with two Luxardo cherries on a pick.

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