By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With December finally here, Christmas is drawing very close. So with the shops filling up, the weather changing, and as a time of true indulgence – we’ve compiled a gift guide of all of the best food and drink gifts to buy for your favourite foodies and drinks connoisseurs this Christmas.
Aurora Crystal Head Vodka
Arriving just in time for Christmas, Crystal Head Vodka – founded in 2008 by Hollywood actor Dan Aykroyd – has released a brand new expression: Aurora. The first thing that excites with Crystal Head Vodka are the unique bottles, while this extra special new skull-shaped bottle features an iridescent finish that’s created in celebration of the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights). What’s more, the ultra-premium vodka produced in Newfoundland, Canada is additive free and made with English-grown wheat from North Yorkshire and water from St John’s, Newfoundland. Distilled and filtered seven times – three of these times through layers of Herkimer diamonds – rather than experimenting with new flavours, Aurora is made with a different grain, producing a drier, bolder and spicier vodka. Unsurprisingly there’s only a very limited supply of Aurora Crystal Head Vodka in the UK, thus rendering this the perfect gift for your favourite vodka enthusiast.
Aurora Crystal Head Vodka is available from Harvey Nichols and priced at £78 for 70cl.
Ideal for any cocktail enthusiast, Quench Products have created the ultimate gadget – a 10-in-1-bartending tool. Styled similarly to a classic Swiss army knife, the Bar10der comprises all of the necessary tools (apart from a shaker) to recreate some impressive concoctions at home; including a muddler, channel knife, jigger, zester, strainer, bottle opener and more.
The Bar10der is available to purchase from thebar10der.co.uk and is priced at £29.99.
Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Hamper
Founded in 1875, Charbonnel et Walker has since become on of Britain’s finest chocolatiers. And although particularly renowned for their dark chocolate creations that use the finest dark coverture, this pink champagne hamper is the perfect gift for any female chocolate lovers. Filled with a selection of the brand’s most popular gift sets, including Handbag and Heels milk chocolate shoes, white chocolate thins containing strawberry, a fine milk chocolate selection, pink marc de champagne truffles, dusted strawberry truffles, and a pink marc de champagne bar. All of which is wrapped with luxurious pink packaging and a ribbon for beautiful presentation.
The Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne hamper is available to purchase from selfridges.com and is priced at £90.
There’s no disputing the fact that Monopoly has become known as the king of board games – even though it’s also been proven to cause huge family rifts. This Christmas, however, why not give the gift of a completely different twist on the game? Created by Dutch company Games4Motion – this fun take on the classic game and incorporates chocolates, so instead of collecting houses and hotels, the aim is to accumulate Belgian chocolate pieces instead. Besides, the taste of victory is much more thrilling when there’s plenty of Belgian chocolate involved.
Gamesformotion chocolate Monopoly is available to buy from most British department and toy stores and is priced at £11.99.
CRATE Gift Box
Set up in 2012 by a trio of like-minded individuals CRATE Brewery operates from an old print factory in Hackney Wick and uses only the finest British malts and internationally sourced Hops, and have garnered acclaim from a number of restaurant groups and hotels, including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Mark Hix, The Berkeley and more. With six beers and one cider available in their core range: CRATE Pale – a fresh aromatic ale – CRATE Golden session ale, CRATE IPA, CRATE Best bitter, CRATE Stout, CRATE Lager, and CRATE Cider that’s fermented using a blend of Somerset vintage cider and dessert apples – the brewery’s special gift box features a taste of each and delivers great quality and value.
The CRATE gift box is available to purchase from crate-beer.myshopify.com and is priced at £18.
Difford’s Guide: 365 Days of Cocktails
Recognised as one of the globe’s leading cocktail experts – Difford was established in 2001 and now runs an exhaustive cocktails website as well as having published a number of books on the subject. Earlier this year, however, a fun innovative new addition was published – Difford’s Guide: 365 Days of Cocktails. Comprising a specially matched cocktail to every day of the year, this is the ultimate bar accessory for any home drinking enthusiasts. Having compiled a compendium of famous anniversaries, birthdays and traditional events and matched an appropriate drink to each – not forgetting some more quirky cocktails including ‘Darth Jager’ for Star Wars day on May 4th, and ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ to celebrate Harper Lee’s Birthday.
Difford’s Guide: 365 Days of Cocktails is available from octopusbooks.co.uk and is priced at priced at £14.99.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select chosen by Fortnum & Mason
Perfect for any whiskey lover, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel is a very special treat, indeed. Chosen by iconic department store Fortnum & Mason on London’s Piccadilly, each single barrel of the drink is unique in its very own way. Every so often the Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller will discover a barrel special enough to warrant being put aside to receive the Single Barrel bottle treatment – of which absolutely no two are the same. Hand-bottled and hand-labelled, each bottle from Fortnum & Mason will bear an individual rick number and bottling date alongside an F&M brass badge. What’s more, each bottle of Single Barrel can be personalised with a complimentary engraving in store, included within the price, which makes this a truly one-off gift.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel chosen by Fortnum & Mason with free engraving will be available in store from December 7th for one week only and will be priced at £65 for 70cl.
Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Series No.1
A little less extravagant than the Single Barrel, yet still a wonderful gift. In October the first ever Jack Store was launched online, as well as selling great whiskey, there’s also a selection of memorabilia that includes clothing, collectables, glassware and more. Ideal for those looking to branch away from the classic Old No.7, there’s also a selection of limited edition whiskeys to add a touch of variety, all of which are beautifully packaged with luxurious gift paper, reflecting the craft of the gift inside. Made in honour of Jack Daniel himself – the first of the brand’s distillers – Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Series No.1 is a deep orange-amber whiskey with bold oak tastes joined by layers of cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla and berry: a fitting tribute to the man who named the Old No.7 and introduced his whiskey to the world.
Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Series No.1 is available to buy from the Jack Store and is priced at £31.99 for 70cl.
Let There Be Meat by James Douglas and Scott Munro
Written by the team behind Red’s True Barbecue, Let There Be Meat is the ultimate barbecue bible – perfect for meat-lovers or anyone interested in barbecue, smoked meats, or even just cooking in general. Comprising over 100 mouth-watering recipes, many of which are available from the restaurant – the book is the product of seven years spent in America studying true barbecue. This is a far cry from sausages black on the inside and hollow in the middle, or Iceland’s own range of burgers. Instead, the focus is on smoking and slow-cooking great cuts of meat, accompanied by the necessary skills in this handy and helpful guide. There’s also an enlightening introduction into the history of BBQ from Paul Sturtevant, a Professor of Medieval studies.
Let There Be Meat is published by Orion and available to purchase from truebarbecue.com and is priced at £20.
Lina Stores’ Christmas Hampers
Soho’s Italian delicatessen will be bringing a slice of Italy to central London this Christmas with a selection of hampers available to purchase. With three hampers (priced at £35, £65 and £100) available, each including a selection of treats, the cheaper of the three comprises a Lina Stores’ signature striped box and includes products such as soft cocoa and hazelnut nougat, Martelli pasta, dried porcini, grana padano and a tube of four Baci chocolates. The hamper also contains a mini-traditional panettone that’s presented in a decorated box that’s designed to hang on a Christmas tree.
Lina Stores’ Christmas hampers are available to purchase in store and online from linastores.co.uk and are priced at £35, £65 and £100.
Meantime Chocolate Porter
One of the London’s leading craft breweries, Meantime’s Greenwich brewery has achieved wide acclaim for its core range of beers. Their London Lager is, arguably, the most popular but their chocolate porter is undeniably the most appropriate for Christmas. Brewed using four different roasted malts, there’s a typical mocha taste that’s aided by the addition of real chocolate during the maturation process. With warm, complex and smooth flavours and a long finish, this is a great gift for the slightly more abstract beer lover,
Meantime Chocolate Porter is available to purchase from meantimebrewing.com and is priced at £21.99 for a case of 12 330ml bottles.
Personalised Moët & Chandon Mini Bottles From Selfridges
At Christmas time, Selfridges is no stranger to bespoke personalisation. Last year, the whole of London went crazy for jars of personalised Nutella, and now the luxury department store has teamed up with iconic champagne brand Moët & Chandon. For the first time ever, Selfridges’ London, Birmingham and Manchester Trafford stores have installed a champagne photo booth that allows customers to have their photos printed onto the labels of mini Moët bottles. Ready in just five minutes, customers are also able to upload photographs direct from smartphones in store.
Personalised Mini Moët bottles are available from Selfridges in store until December 31st and are priced at £16.99 for Moet Imperial and £18.99 for Moët Rosé Impérial.
Pomora Olive Oil Subscription
We’ve all heard of subscription services that allow us to adopt animals for our friends and loved ones, usually offering a cuddly toy and regular letters that discuss the animal’s well being. However, ideal for those who care about the quality of their food – Pomora are offering an olive oil subscription service. Adopting an olive tree on behalf of a friend or loved one this Christmas is now incredibly easy thanks to Pomora, which will include quarterly deliveries of some of Italy’s finest olive oil. Committed to supporting small, independent growers, with a Pomora subscription the recipient will also receive regular updates on their tree direct form the producer throughout the year, as well as a gift that will last all of the way through until next Christmas. Each shipment includes three 250ml tins of premium extra virgin olive oil, including flavours such as chilli, garlic, and white truffle throughout the year.
Further information on Pomora subscriptions, and prices can be found online at pomora.com.
Sushi Masterclass at Nobu London
Launching in January, Nobu London’s sushi master classes are the perfect immersive gift for any aspiring chef. Available for groups wishing to learn the art of sushi making with the iconic restaurant’s prestigious chefs – the classes capture chef Nobu matsuhisa’s “new style” Japanese cuisine that’s met with South American flavours, as a reflection of the chef’s training as a sushi chef in Tokyo. Taking place over the course of two and a half hours, classes include a luxurious lunch of highlights from the restaurant – as well as their own dishes – plus a glass of champagne on arrival, and a Nobu sushi kit to take home.
Classes are priced at £250 per person, and further information can be found at noburestaurants.com.
Vivienne Westwood X Cool Earth Chocolate Bar
As part of a campaign to raise funds for charity this Christmas, Aqua Shard has teamed up with iconic fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood for a unique collaboration. Inside the restaurant, a huge 18 foot Christmas tree designed exclusively by Westwood and her husband Andreas Kronthaler takes place in the triple-height atrium, while a special dessert and cocktail have also been created. What’s more, also to raise funds for rainforest protection charity Cool Earth – a charity that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction – Aqua Shard will also be selling an exclusive range of limited edition Cool Earth chocolate bars designed with a unique wrapper created by none other than Vivienne Westwood and Cool Earth. The wrapper’s design is inspired by Asháninka markings, while the chocolate is made using cacao from rare criollo beans grown, harvested and fermented by Cool Earth’s Asháninka partners in Peru.
Vivienne Westwood X Cool Earth chocolate bars are available to purchase from Aqua Shard or from aquashardblog.co.uk/viviennewestwood and are priced at £3.95. All proceeds go directly to Cool Earth’s rainforest partnerships.