One thing Ron Burgundy takes as seriously as news is scotch, so it should come as no surprise that San Diego's top newsman has a scotch of his own, and it's kind of a big deal. Ron Burgundy Scotchy Scotch Scotch ($TBA) is a blend of whiskies from Speyside, Highlands and Islay worthy of the Burgundy catchphrase "Great Odin's Raven." It sounds like a must have bottle, especially if you have many leather-bound books and your apartment smells of rich mahogany. Don't act like you're not impressed.
As hard as it is to admit it, there are more options out there than standard American Bacon when you're looking for your pork fix — with Bacons of the World ($300), you get all the bacon this great nation has to offer, plus a few bonuses. With your purchase, you'll receive quarterly shipments of five pounds each, made up of half American Bacon, and half a second type. You'll get Guanciale, unsmoked Italian pig cheek; English Bacon, smoked loin with belly attached; Pancetta, the Italian cousin of American Bacon; and Holiday Bacon, a specially seasoned version of American Bacon.
Way back in the Middle Ages, during the holidays, spices, instead of hops, were added to beer to add flavor. That tradition reemerged in the 1900's, and is the inspiration behind many holiday beers on the market today. Great Lakes Christmas Ale ($12) is one of many in a crowded market, but manages to separate itself with its unique recipe and flavor profile. Christmas Ale is brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon, providing a tasty gift that belongs under the tree of every craft beer enthusiast.
When you're looking for a delicious, beefy snack, without all the nasty stuff you'd typically find in those on the corner grocery's shelves, you need Chomps Beef Sticks ($45). These beef sticks are entirely made from grass-fed beef, so there's no need to worry about any unsavory stuff finding its way into your belly. They're also gluten free and paleo friendly, so you won't have to sacrifice your new-age diet just to get your meat fix. Add in the fact that they're also devoid of antibiotics, hormones, nitrates, nitrites, and other strange ingredients, and what you get is great-tasting high-protein snack that's low in guilt.
For the past 39 years, Anchor Brewing has released one of the most unique and tasty holiday beers on the market, Our Special Ale. Every holiday season we look forward to celebrating with a new batch and a new hand drawn label. As the holidays wound down last year however, Anchor decided to do something different with their remaining stock. Instead of scrapping the leftovers, they decided to pass it to Anchor Spirits, where they distilled the leftovers into a unique white spirit aptly named White Christmas ($50). It's gentle upfront with a nice long and spicy finish featuring notes of clove, holiday spice, and dried fruits. This limited production white whiskey is sure to sell fast, especially since this year it's only available in California.
If you like your meats cured, fermented, and dried, then odds are, the Salami of the Month Club ($140-$385) was made for you. This is some of the best salami you can find — it's hand butchered from fresh Northwest pork to 100% lean, and only then is hand-cut fatback added for marbling. All the ingredients, including garlic and spices, are freshly chopped and ground in-house, so you know you're getting the best stuff possible. Depending on what you order, you can get one, two, or three salamis delivered to your doorstep each month, selected from an available 12 varieties. Included with each order are detailed tasting notes, meant to give you guidance on the best way to enjoy each one.
For shoppers, Black Friday means waking up early and standing in line awaiting the best bargains on Christmas gifts. For beer dorks, there may be lines and even some early wake up calls, but it's not bargains we pursue, it's Bourbon County. Bourbon County Barleywine ($20) is one of the newest offerings in an already famous line of barrel aged beers released by Goose Island brewing. The first four packs will hit store shelves on Black Friday, and those lucky enough to purchase some will be treated to a 12.1% English-style Barleywine aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then Bourbon County Stout.
Chances are, if you consider yourself a beer-lover, you've heard of Samuel Adams Utopias — if not, we'll give you a minute to catch up. This beer — meant to be served at room temperature and rated at about 28 percent alcohol by volume — is not for the faint of heart. And if you're lucky enough to get your hands on one of these coveted, limited bottles, there's no better complement to it than a Samuel Adams Utopias Cigar ($34). Seasoned in Utopias beer, these cigars draw rich nutty and fruit notes from the beer that combine nicely with the smooth, spicy taste of the tobacco. They're only available this November and December, so grab yours while they last.
If you were wondering what the holiday season in Texas tastes like, look no further than Shiner Holiday Cheer ($9) from Spoetzl Brewing. It might not stand out amongst the sea of holiday themed brews lining your bottle shop shelves, but it's an underrated gem worthy of your attention. In the same way that the holidays are a little different in the Lone Star State, Holiday Cheer is a little different than most beer released during the season. It's a Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans, providing some sweetness along with a subtle, nutty finish. A great way to break up the monotony of typical Christmas beers and enjoy a taste of Texas.
Whiskey collectors and connoisseurs are constantly hunting for the tastiest and rarest bottles around. Some bottles carry a hefty price tag, while others are just difficult to find. The latter is the case with Willett Family Estate Rye Whiskey ($35) which isn't outside of most price ranges, but not much is made and it's tough to track down. Every bottle contains a hand marked age statement and barrel number, but the amount of each batch rarely exceeds 200 bottles. Despite the 110 proof, it's an easy sipper, with a classic rye mintiness and a clean, crisp finish. Add it to your Whiskey Envy list.
There's nothing quite like the holiday season, mostly because of the unique beer releases that make their way to bottle shop shelves. 21st Amendment Brewing in San Fransisco agrees, and treats us with Fireside Chat ($12) to help usher in the season. Just like the depression-era radio addresses FDR used to churn out, this spiced winter ale is both warming and illuminating. It's a dark English-style ale with a nice balance of spices that bring to mind vanilla, nutmeg and caramel malt. A flavorful, comforting beverage for any winter evening.
Mezcal is a unique, ancient, and quite amazing spirit that has yet to break through to the mainstream. You could say it's a relative of tequila, because both use agave, but that's where the similarities end. Mezcal is best described by the term it is derived from, "oven-cooked agave", a process that gives this spirit it's unique qualities. Espadin Marca Negra Mezcal ($100) is a great place to start, especially if you enjoy the smoky qualities found in scotch. Marca Negra (Black Hand) might be one of the smokiest Mezcal's around actually, making it a fine candidate to pair with a fine cigar on a cold night.