If you hang with a liquor-loving crowd, you know how happy the simple gift of booze can make someone. It’s a universally pleasing, relatively stress-free gift that doesn’t require more wrapping than a bow round the neck and a quick handwritten note. Booze is even relatively cheap—until you have to buy one for every friend, party host, coworker, old college roommate, neighbor, bus driver, IRS auditor and long lost cousin. But with these equally affordable and impressive bottles, you can save a buck without seeming like a cheapskate.
Affordable Bottles to Give as Gifts (That Won’t Make You Seem Cheap)
Lustau Brandy de Jerez ($24)
Brandy carries a pretty hefty reputation as a rich person drink. Given the wide range of accessible brandies and its myriad of uses in simple cocktails, that outdated notion needs to die already—but there’s no sense rushing the misconception into an early grave when it works to your advantage. This Spanish brandy is an absolute steal for the price. When you give it away, remember to inform the future brandy convert that they can sip it neat or mix it in a luxurious brandy cocktail. Soon enough, everyone will be onto brandy’s versatility. But for now, it’s something special.
This pommeau (French for bomb mix of apple brandy and apple cider) will make an elegant first impression with a label covered in fancy French cursive. Should your recipient actually open the bottle and try the golden nectar inside, they’ll find the flavor of freshly pressed apples mixed with baking spices, honey and earthy overtones. We recommend that everyone drinks a glass of neat pommeau until they’re filled with warm fruity feels. We don’t recommend pulling straight from the bottle, though we totally understand if your friend feels compelled to do so after a single sip.
Unless you’re buying for an expat from the Emerald Isle, chances are your recipient isn’t well-versed in Irish whiskey beyond Jameson and Tullamore D.E.W. You can change that with this impressive, affordable whiskey from Clontarf. Its light, honeyed taste goes great in cocktails like an Irish Coffee (just as famed hybrid Irish pub and fancy cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit does it), and its slight obscurity means no one knows what you payed for it.
Routin Dry Vermouth ($17)
People aren’t accustomed to getting vermouth as a gift, but they won’t be mad about a bottle of Routin. Floral, herbal and effusing Alpine influences, the dry vermouth is perfect for Martinis, sipping straight or topping with seltzer for a simple aperitif. It’s even cheap enough to cook with (but you won’t mention that part). Pair it with a super affordable bottle of gin for a budget power duo, and offer to mix your pal some Martinis for bonus kudos.
Like jokes, gifts are less impressive when you have to explain them. Rock & Rye needs no introduction. Even if your giftee hasn’t tried it or seen the handsome bottle (or read Supercall’s own 2017 wish list), one taste will make it clear why this cocktail in a bottle is a winner. Sweetened with honey and packed with rye spice, the whiskey is an absolute crowd pleaser—even if the crowd expects a lot. Gift this to a party host, and it’s unlikely the bottle will survive the night.
Drinking pamplemousse is like imbibing a warm spring day full of dazzling, sun-dappled grapefruit—it’s downright lovely. This versatile liqueur is perfect for upping someone’s bartending game, as it’s easy to mix the tasty liquid in all kinds of refreshing spritzes. Not only will this bottle rock someone’s world for a mere $25, you’ll forever be associated with the delightful drinking experiences to follow.
It’s hard to impress a spirits nerd without breaking the bank, but this sleeper bottle will surprise even an expert. Made by Cappelletti, which puts out some of our other favorite amari like Sfumato, this dark horse Italian aperitif brims with earthy flavors from the Dolomites mountains in Northern Italy. Root beer, tree bark and even mint make this a deep sipper perfect for cola-forward amaro lovers. It’s light enough to casually sip straight but is filled with complex and alluring smoky notes. It’s a total enigma, especially for the price.