Does the Wolf Judge the Lion?
Got a Game of Thrones fan on your list? Who doesn’t? Earlier this year, HBO partnered with Brewery Ommegang to create a series of beers inspired by the hit television series, and the first of the collaboration, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, was such an instant best-seller, they’ve done it again with Take the Black Stout. Inspired by members of the Night's Watch, who have vowed to protect the Seven Kingdoms from enemies in the north, Take the Black Stout is a deep, dark ABV stout with hints of chocolate, caramel malt, coffee, and hops. $8.50 per bottle, Ommegang.com
Drinking and Donating
Driving = bad, donating = good. With (Belvedere) Red Special Edition Vodka, 50 percent of the profits goes to the Global Fund, among the world’s leading financier of programs to fight HIV and AIDS. The bottle is gorgeous semitransparent metallic, the booze is great (is vodka ever bad, though?), and since its inception in 2011, proceeds from (Belvedere) Red have produced funding for more than 4.5 million days of lifesaving HIV meds, enough to help 8,300 HIV-positive women prevent transmission during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Feels good to drink now. $29, ReserveBar.com
Best. Cookies. Ever.
I like fresh-baked cookies as much as the next guy, but I had no idea you could get wondrous fresh-baked cookie taste from a tin delivered via mail. But indeed, the Christie Cookie, a Nashville institution, will deliver to your door a gift tin for any occasion packed with its signature chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, and oatmeal raisin cookies (the latter being, hands-down, the best oatmeal cookie I have ever eaten). Not baked until you order, the cookies are trans fat-free and kosher-certified, while the company is LGBT-supportive. Yum. $53.99 for a gift tin with 36 cookies, ChristieCookies.com
For the Two-Fisted Drinker in Your Life
I adore these quirky and one-of-a-kind stoneware face mugs from SkyBirdArts, which are inspired by folk art "face jugs." (Face jugs are thought to have originated with African slaves in the early 1800s. Google it, it’s fascinating.) There are two handles, perfect for that two-fisted drinker in your life. Paired with Cowgirl Chocolate’s Old Fashioned Hot Cocoa (from my favorite Idaho chocolatier), it’s the perfect winter gift. Mug: $43, Etsy.com/Shop/Skybirdarts; Cocoa: $10.95, CowgirlChocolates.com
Speaking of Cocoa
You’ve already tried it in cocktails, I’ll bet, without even knowing it. Agwa de Bolivia Herbal Liqueur is the hottest new thing in mixology — it’s the original cocoa leaf liquor that when frozen emits a groovy green glow. It’s the percurer of the so-called Agwa buzz, and it’s the only drink made with masterated cocoa leaves, green tea, Amazon guarana, African mint, and ginseng. (You can find recipes at AgwaBuzz.com.) $29.99, Binnys.com
Time for Teatolers
Not all indulgences need to have alcohol. With Numi’s new organic Winter Spice Tea (a yummy white tea with cinnamon, cloves, and orange), Holiday Herbal Chai, and Holiday Chai you’ll get a stocking stuffer that’ll still have her passing up the eggnog. $6.99, NumiTea.com
For the Modern (and Witty) Tea Drinker
Drinking tea isn’t just for fussy old ladies (unless I can now be classified as a fussy old lady, which could be debatable) who like floral teapots and demitasse cups. Next time I grab a loose mix of my favorite malty Assam, for example, I’m going to load it into the little silicone pants of Mr. Tea, perch him in my cup, and smile away as the cute tea infuster does his job. Don’t worry, Mr. Tea is made of food-safe, tasteless, soft silicone rubber. $12, GiveSimple.com
Still Avoiding Russian Vodka?
Then get a load of Reyka Vodka, the first and original vodka from Iceland that is distilled using glacial water and volcano rocks. It’s a green vodka too (the distillery runs on thermal heat) and you can’t beat the crisp, clean taste. $29.99, Wines4Today.com
The Grandmaster Flash of Booze
Grand Marnier has released a $40 Raspberry Peach blend that’s yummy, but if you have the cash and a cognac-swilling lover, it’s the company’s other new release that will really delight him. Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880 is top-shelf cognac that commemorates the creation of Grand Marnier in 1880, when Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle began blending cognac with oranges, which, while common today, were a luxury spoil at the time. The Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880 blends aged, premium XO Cognac made exclusively from Grande Champagne, the most esteemed growing area in the Cognac region, in a bottle inspired by a limited edition Grand Marnier bottle from the early 1900s that drew from the Art Nouveau school and Belle Epoque era. $350, GrandMarnier.com
Monkey Shoulder Whisky is the world’s first triple malt Scotch whisky, an award-winning mix of three leading Speyside Scotch whiskies, which tastes a bit like vanilla and honey and chamomile. Swilling it solo over rocks makes me feel like I’m in an old Humphrey Bogart movie, but I’m sure it’s great in recipes too. And the bottle is gorgeous and the price is right. $27.99, MalloysFinest.com
A Puff for Your Daddy
Game of Thrones isn’t the only TV show with an indulgence available. Sons of Anarchy has released its official cigar, which is made with extra-fermented Ecuadorian Oscuro wrappers filled with an aged, medium- to full-bodied Cuban-seed blend from Nicaragua that is “loaded with notes of wood, leather, sweetness, spice, and hearty tobacco notes, each silky-smooth puff coats the palate perfectly and finishes clean.” I don’t understand any of that, but I have a tobacco-loving, motorcycle riding, SOA-watching uncle who will. $27 and up, CigarsInternational.com
I Effen Love This Stuff
My colleague gave me a salted caramel Rice Krispie treat this morning, and it took all my energy not to pull out a bottle of the Effen Salted Caramel Vodka to go with it (it was only 9:30 a.m. and I was at work, hence my hesitation). But still it could be perfect, because Effen Salted Caramel Vodka is delish, mixologists love this Holland import, and it makes for a great addition to recipes that are part of that sweet and savory food moment we’re in. The recipe for the Salted Caramel Rocky Road cocktail is TDF (find more at EffenVodka.com). $17.99, Binnys.com