People often ask my advice when it comes to buying the perfect spirit or wine for Father’s Day. My first question is always, “Well, what does he like to drink?” followed by, “Is he adventurous?” And then I usually tell people that they don’t have to spend a lot of money for a good bottle. There are really nice bottles of both spirits and wine for less than $40.
The answer to the first question narrows down the field: Gin, Bourbon, Scotch, Rum, Tequila, or wine. The second question tells you a lot more. If you say that your dad loves Crown and isn’t adventurous – well then, buy him a bottle of Crown and maybe one of the books I mention later on. If he is adventurous and likes to try or learn new things then this article is for you.
Gifts, like hospitality and great bartending, should be well thought out and perfect. Even if the gift is slightly off the mark, Dad will be amazed by the thought that went into crafting his Father’s Day experience. One of my favorite things to introduce people to is a tasting. A tasting will let you discover, on your own, quite a few things about each spirit or wine. For example, someone may have told you that a certain Chardonnay tastes like pineapple and green apples or that a Riesling has lychee and melon notes or particular rum has notes of butterscotch, vanilla, and oak. Those descriptors mean nothing until you put them in context with other tastes. Tasting three rums or white wines side by side gives you a great context of what you like and what you don’t. Also, always remember: what you taste and what someone else tastes isn’t going to be the same. Everyone has a different palate.
So, let’s start with white wines because it’s summer and it’s hot. If your dad likes whites get him a few bottles to try side by side. Tastings are fun, a great learning experience and should be a fun bonding time with Dad.
A few of my favorites for summer are:
Gruner Veltliner: (Gruner) Austrian, pairs well with almost anything. See if you taste radish & celery
Vermintino: Mediterranean, pairs well with pestos, fish, salads & chicken. Herby, dense & nutty flavors
Verdicchio: Italian, pairs well just about anything summery, flavors of almonds & fresh citrus.
Vinho Verde: Portugese, porch wine in summer, floral and slight minerality.
Buy 2 or 3 (or all of them) and taste side by side on the deck this summer – maybe with a nice Nicoise salad. A great present to accompany the wine would be the book “Why You Like The Wines You Like” by Tim Hanni.
Ok, on to spirits.
My favorite spirit to taste with people is rum. Many people have no idea how versatile rum is or, how different they are.
If your dad likes rum and hasn’t branched out from Bacardi or Captain now is the time to expand his horizons. Rum, like all spirits has a great history. There are three main types of Rum: Rum (English style), Ron (Spanish style) and Rhum (French style, Agricole). Remember 4th grade geography and the Age of Empires? Have you ever been to the Caribbean? Well there you go. Depending on which island or country your rum comes from will determine the flavor and style. Again, try them side by side to really see the differences.
Cana Brava: Panama – makes a great Daquiri! Try it next to Bacardi and see the difference.
Depaz Blue Cane Agricole: Martinique – try a Mojito with Depaz it’s fantastic with fresh mint from the garden.
Zaya: Trinidad – butterscotch and baking spices. Makes a great Rum Old Fashioned.
Cana Brava Classic Daquiri
2oz Cana Brava Rum
.75oz fresh lime juice
.75oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Serve up with a lime wheel.
2oz Depaz Agricole Rhum
1oz fresh lime
.75oz simple syrup
8-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
Shake all ingredients with ice and dump into glass. Garnish with fresh mint and lime.
Rum Old Fashioned
In a mixing glass (pint glass or Yarai mixing glass if you have it):
1 Demerara sugar cube
4 dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2oz Zaya Rum
Stir for about 40 seconds. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with a Luxardo cherry and an orange twist.
El Dorado 15: Guyana – tastes like baking spices and cookies. Sip it neat.
Angostura Cask No. 1: Trinidad – personal favorite (expensive but worth it).
If Dad is a Whiskey lover you have to ask if he is a Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Rye or Canadian fan.
Scotch is particularly hard to buy for Scotch fans. Without getting too in depth about areas of Scotland and Scotch styles, here are four of my favorites that won’t break the bank. But honestly, buy him the scotch he usually drinks unless he is looking for something new.
Glenfiddich Solera 15: (pronounced Glen Fidick) Speyside Scotch Single Malt
Bowmore: Islay Scotch – tastes like you are standing near the ocean on a rocky beach
Auchentoshan 12: Lowland Scotch – baking spices
Johnny Walker Black: Blended Scotch
Whiskeys are, in general, some of my favorite spirits. Here are a few that taste great and are under the $40 range:
W.L. Weller Bourbon: $19 and it’s a steal. Same juice that makes Pappy.
Pike Creek Canadian: $35-ish. If your dad likes Crown this is a tasty alternative
Woodford Reserve Rye: $39 and is one of the smoothest Rye whiskeys for the money.
Teeling Irish: $35 and wonderfully smooth. Their single malt is amazing, but a bit more expensive.
Here are a few of my other favorites that are well worth the money and worth experimenting with:
Tequila Ocho (Blanco):$35 and a wonderful sipping Tequila. A splurge would be the Tequila Ocho Anejo.
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal: Mezcals are hot right now and wonderful. The Vida is around $35. If you want to splurge, you should go for the Del Maguey Chichicapa Single Village for around $65.
Gin has a few different styles and they are all quite distinct. Beefeater is my go to for a London Dry Style and you can’t beat it at under $20 to make a solid martini (with Dolin Dry Vermouth). Beefeater 24 is also worth tasting but my favorite London dry gin for under $40 is Darnley’s View.
Bols has a great Ginever (Holland Style) and Death’s Door makes a fantastic fennel forward American Craft Gin.
If Dad loves his spirits and likes to make cocktails or wants to learn more about them I highly recommend the following books based on his preferences:
- “The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart if he also loves gardening/botanicals.
- “Liquid Intelligence” by Dave Arnold for the Science lover dad.
- “Imbibe” by David Wondrich for the History buff dad.
- “The Joy of Mixology” by Gary “Gaz” Regan for the irreverent, sarcastic mixologist.
If you are looking for bar tools that Dad will love check out CocktailKingdom.com
And always, if you have any questions just email me.