In less than ten years, Coravin has established itself as the wine preservation system. Its unique needle-through-the-cork extraction method allows you to sample a glass without opening the bottle, and the wine will keep for years, Coravin claims. The downside is the expense (you don’t get much change from £300 for the Model 3 Coravin); so now there’s the Pivot, which uses the same argon gas preserving method but on a bottle from which you’ve already pulled the cork. Look on it as a starter Coravin, which allows you to keep the wine fresh for up to a month.
Do you remember when a G&T came in a straight-sided tumbler? No longer. Today, the cognoscenti prefer a well-shaped (and voluminous) goblet, the better to swirl and sniff, and to keep the iced bowl away from your warm hand. Here, the fine tulip shape allows the vessel to deliver the drink most efficiently to the palate, and the crystal glass is robust but light. A very fine addition to any spirit-lover’s glass cupboard.
Of all the unlikely places to spawn an ultra-cool, ready-to-drink cocktail shop, Catford would be pretty high up the list. But this nondescript south-east London borough has produced the Catford Bottle Bar and Shop, which in turn has put together a whole series of RTDs in neat little dark bottles (you can imagine one poking out of Mr Pickwick’s frock-coat pocket). There’s an Old Fashioned, a Negroni, a Lychee Martini, an Elderflower Gin Martini, a Manhattan and much else besides. Perfect for Christmas morning, before the rest of the family is up…
From about £17 for 20cl
The lockdowns of 2020 have forced all of us to examine our drinking habits, and many have come to the resolution to “drink less but better”. Drinking better wine means keeping better wine, so we recommend this neat 8-bottle wine fridge for the wine-lover-embarrassed-for-storage-space in your life. Not everyone has a walk-in cellar, after all.
Has there ever been a more important time to own a really good hipflask? Lockdown in summer is one thing; in winter it means long walks with cold cheeks and steaming breath, chilly trysts on park benches… and a dozen other al fresco situations for which a nip of something to warm your insides is de rigueur. There are two rules for hipflasks: they should be a decent size (6oz minimum) and they should have a captive top (as anyone who has ever dropped the cap in a tarn or trout stream will know). This fine Ettinger flask is wrapped in goat leather to keep your fingers warm as you sip, and comes with a nifty little funnel for filling.
Of course there are more important debates to be had than whether clear ice is better than cloudy ice – is Jack Daniel’s bourbon? for example – but it’s a hot topic among bartenders and mixologists. Clear ice aficionados will tell you that it not only makes your cocktail look better, but taste better too (the lack of air bubbles means the ice dissolves much more slowly, for a start). The only way to find out is by experimentation, and for this we recommend the Wintersmiths Ice Baller Kit, which uses directional freezing to produce spherical, clear ice balls the size of small apples, which make for a striking addition to your G&T.
7. Luxury hotel and spa gift vouchers
Hands up all those who would give anything (within reason) to get out, away, into the hills or to the coast – anywhere but home? There’s every reason to hope that 2021 will be easier and freer, and what could be a better Christmas present than a guaranteed stay at one of Britain’s finest foodie hotels? From south (the gorgeous Lympstone Manor) to north (the Lake District’s Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere) and many points in betweeen (Pennyhill Park in Surrey and South Lodge in Sussex, both splendid spas), give your locked-down loved ones vouchers for reviving stays to be redeemed as and when they want.
From about £150
“This course is for the avid home cook, the enthusiastic amateur, the professional chef and everyone in between,” says Tatler. It certainly sounds impressive: four chefs from four great restaurants – HIDE, Ormer, the Hind’s Head and Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons – run several levels of courses (the top level with extra feedback and one-to-one tuition). You cook alongside equally keen peers, and come out of it with the skills needed to put together a Michelin-starred dinner of your own. If you’re after a budget stocking filler, the courses break down into £35 chunks – “Appetisers and bread” with Ollie Dabbous of HIDE, for example. Ready? “Oui, chef”.
“PSyKo Seven cigars are your ticket to escape the mundane,” we hear from the excellent cigar and whisky specialist CGars Ltd, which has put together this gift box for cigar lovers who may think they’ve tried everything. PSyKo Sevens are six-country blends offering a remarkably fine and mellow smoke, as indeed does the Trinidad, which like the Cohiba was made only for diplomats and not released for general sale until the late 1990s. Two other cigars – a Partagas Petit Coronas Especiales and an Eiroa “First 20 years” special blend complete a collection any cigar lover would be delighted to find in his or her stocking on Christmas morning – and there’s a miniature of Stalla Dhu Islay and a cigar cutter keyring as well.
Smeg design manages that difficult trick of being both charmingly retro and resolutely modern. With its cute aluminium feet, pastel colour palette and squat-rocket styling, the snappily-named CGF01 looks as if it could have come from the 1950s, the 70s – or indeed the 2030s. In short, it’s timeless, and will look good whatever your kitchen vibe. Expect it to be as mechanically reliable as any other Smeg appliance.
Club Oenologique made the wine and spirit world spill its collective drink when it launched in November 2018. Its mix of brilliant writing, breathtaking photography and wide-ranging subject matter instantly made other drinks magazines look humdrum. Issue 6 came out in November after the hiatus of 2020, and it’s proven that the first five issues were no flash in the pan. With exclusive access to wineries like Napa’s Harlan Estate, and incisive and witty writing from the likes of Tim Atkin, Robert Joseph and Harry Eyres, we’re no longer the newcomer, but the benchmark. What better gift than a subscription to some of the best drinks writing in the world?
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