Listen up, girlfriends: While your gift of cuddly pajamas or a vintage flask is appreciated, we know what dudes — dudes who haven’t been through AA and are not mildly functioning alcoholics — want. And that’s alcohol. Tasty, delicious, drunk-making alcohol.
So we asked a couple of Certified Dudes what kind of strong stuff they’d like a girl to get them for Ye Olde Holidays. We spoke to Tyghe Trimble, Senior Editor at Men’s Journal, and bartender and booze guru Justin Lane Brings, of Brooklyn resto Bellwether, for their recommendations.
First off, guys like beer. I tend to think it might be weird to get a dude beer as a gift, but they seem to really love this shit. In any case, if your dude is a beer dude, try some of the following.
Says Tyghe: “Most craft breweries have a pretty wide range of flavors and styles, but if we love something from a brewery, because they’re likely to use similar hops, malts, and yeasts for other beers, you’re likely going to enjoy some others. Try a variety pack if you want to stick to a beer comfort zone, but expand it — and maybe even find our next favorite go-to.”
Some of Tyghe’s favorites include:
- Troegs Anthology #2: ”Perfect for someone who likes hoppy American brews, but maybe a little less crazy bitter.”
- Omegaang Variety Pack: “For the Belgian-style beer lover.”
- Dogfish Head Red and White: “The gift for me that’s really for you. This beer is potent and tasty. It’s brewed with coriander and orange peel and — the catch — pinot noir juice, and subsequently aged in pinot noir and oak barrels. The result: a beer-wine hybrid from one of the cooler brewers in the world, Sam Calgione (remember that guy who hosted Brew Masters on the Discovery channel? [Ed note: No]). Everyone wins!”
- Hair of the Dog’s Fred: ”For the beer geek. This is a rare, serious ale out of Portland that is. It’s a potent, delicious strong ale made with nearly a dozen kinds of hops and weighing in at a hefty 10% alcohol. The best part: the bottles are dated, so you can age it and have an ever-so-geeky “vertical” tasting by age.”
- Churchkey Pilsner Six Pack: ”This is a fine, light, drinkable beer (in the style of Bud), but let’s make no pretense: you’re buying it for the packaging. These thick steel cans must be opened like they did in your grandfather’s day, which means, you need a can opener (aka, a “churckey” — get it? There’s an old-timey joke for you.) Warning, the six go fast, if only because we get such a kick using a tool to poke holes in our beer so we can drink it. It’s (almost) as satisfying as tapping a keg.”
- Saison Dupont: ”Men’s Journal once called this farmhouse ale the best beer in the world. It’s light, effervescent, hoppy, but subtle. We’ve yet to run into someone who dislikes it.”
Okay, so pick your poison. As a rule, says Tyghe, it’s good to stick to the brown stuff.
Bourbon: “If your home bar isn’t stocked in bourbon, please remedy,” warns Tyghe. Okay! “Prichard’s is a meticulously crafted pick. Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, Bulleit, and Maker’s will also do. It’s pretty hard to go wrong.”
Scotch: Justin calls Michele Couvreur 12 Year ”a fascinating French-barreled, bottled Scotch whiskey.” Tyghe has other ideas: “When it comes to scotch, the good stuff is still by and large single malt. Yes, that usually means it’s pricey. But there are plenty of affordable bottles. Try the Ancoc 12-year scotch. At only $45, you might even be able to try a single malt in a — brace yourself — cocktail.”
And if you really want to drop some cash, Tyghe suggests Highland Park Thor. At $200 a bottle, it is not cheap, but did you really expect a drink with Thor in the name to be affordable?
Rum: Justin says Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum is “amazing, funky and strong.” He used funky, not me.
Tequila: Tequila Ocho is “a gorgeous tequila that give a sense of terroir similar to fine wines,” says Justin. “Reposados are a good ‘dude’ recommendation.”
Rye: Justin recommends Whistlepig Rye‘s special batch, aged 11 years and bottled at 111 proof (as opposed to the regular stuff, 10 years and 100 proof). “Kick ass, smooth and STRONG!” he says. “And spicier than the previous batch, so more effective for cocktailing. Makes a damn fine Manhattan, duh.” Tyghe likes Knob Creek Rye. “For the spirit geeks, rye whiskey is in,” he says. “Knob Creek, the brand responsible for introducing drinkers to the concept of small-batch whiskey, is the first big dog getting in on the action.”
Brandy: Laird’s 7 1/2 or 12-year Apple Brandy are classic Americana. Laird’s is the oldest still-operating distillery in America, even predating the country itself; Washington gave this brandy to his troops during the Revolutionary War!
If your dude isn’t a “brown stuff” drinker, try these suggestions from Justin:
Vodka: Barr Hill Vodka is a lovely, gentle vodka made from distilled honey by artisan beekeepers in Vermont.
Gin: Bluecoat Gin is a sustainably produced dry gin from Philadelphia, big on early American roots and such. Says Justin: “I’d also suggest a Genever, such as Bols (the classic) or Anchor Distilling’s Genevieve. Genever is the early Dutch precursor to gin, and made in a mash style more similar to white whiskey than the London Dry gins we’re all accustomed to. Lovely, rich, slightly sweet… amazing stuff.”
“I also suggest chartreuse, specifically the Green Chartreuse VEP,” Justin continues. ”Maybe the world’s most beautiful spirit, and fast catching up to Fernet as the go-to ‘bartender’s favorite’ shot… VEP is the aged and even more incredible offering of the same spirit. Just remarkable.”
Bitters: “Every home bar needs bitters,” says Tyghe. I happen to agree. “As mixologists well know, high-quality bitters makes the most quality cocktails.” Tyghe suggests these three bitters to start with:
What’s your poison of choice? Share in the comments!