Spirits of Christmas: Give the Gift of East End Liquor

Christmas Cocktail
Photo: Wiktory/iStock/Thinkstock

While a nice bottle of liquor can make the perfect holiday gift, a nice local bottle is even better. And with Christmas less than 10 days away, now is the perfect time to pick up some East End spirits for the important people in our lives. The Hamptons and North Fork are full of wonderful options in the cheer department—a selection of which are presented below.

Note: Make sure the person receiving these lovely libations actually indulges before giving them something totally useless, or possibly damaging, to them. Giving a bottle of rum to a Mormon or a recovering alcoholic is akin to giving steak knives to a vegetarian, binoculars to a blind guy, or Beats by Dre headphones to a deaf kid. If you don’t know someone well enough to be sure, try getting a local foodie delight instead.

A trio of Montauk Rum
A trio of Montauk Rum, Photo: Courtesy Hampton Rum Company

First distilled in 2013 by the fledgling Hampton Rum Company, Montauk Rum has made a splash with local cocktail lovers and connoisseurs. Reaching back to Montauk’s rumrunning past for inspiration, founder Leucio Iacobelli has taken this traditional liquor and turned it into a bolder, stronger flavored spirit using 100 percent American ingredients and facilities. His first rum, Black Sail aged rum is midway between light rum and the darker variety, with more character and flavor than its “mixing” counterparts, so it’s generally consumed straight. Next, he created his first specialty option, SunBurn cinnamon rum, a warm and tangy treat for the tongue and taste buds. Montauk Rum’s spiced offering, Bellamy, is named for pirate Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy, and is made with spices and flavors, including banana, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sugar. And finally, Hampton Rum Company’s only white rum, Silver Siren, is made from pure sugar cane and contains a floral and herbal aroma that clearly differs from the molasses-based rums.

Montauk Rum is available all over Long Island and in New York City. Find it at Atlantic Wines & Liquors in Amagansett (631-267-6330) or Bottle Hampton Wine & Liquors in Southampton (631-353-3313). To find more information, recipes and locations, visit hamptonrum.com.

Montauk Rum Runners Cirus Flavored Gin
Montauk Rum Runners Cirus Flavored Gin, Photo: Courtesy Montauk Rum Runners

Also from The End, Montauk Rum Runners Citrus Flavored Gin offers a lovely, balanced blend of citrus and juniper that makes for a perfectly refreshing cocktail. Family owned and operated, this small-batch operation came to fruition after sisters Kate Sarris and Kimberly Sarris Royal heard stories of their family’s rumrunning past at The Roadside Restaurant in the old Montauk Fishing Village during Prohibition.”In honor of their adventurous spirit and hardworking traditions, we founded Montauk Rum Runners,” the owners explain. In addition to their gin, Montauk Rum Runners makes a Honey Flavored Whiskey, made with real honey and native spices, and a Coconut Flavored Rum with a touch of sweetness and smooth finish. Packaged in bottles that conjure images of backyard moonshine stills, all options make for great cocktail mixers.

Montauk Rum Runners is available at White’s Liquor Store (631-668-2426) and Finest Kind Wines & Liquor (631-668-9463) in Montauk. Visit montaukrumrunners.com for more info.

Sag Harbor Rum bottle beauty shot
Sag Harbor Rum, Photo: paulbarbera.com

Another local rum standout, Sag Harbor Rum speaks to the historic whaling and seafaring roots of its famous village. Launched in 2014 by Mike McQuade and Jason Cyril Laan, this rum is aged in old bourbon casks with a blend of spices, fruit and other natural flavors. McQuade and Laan took a cue from Sag Harbor’s historic whalers, storing their rum in barrels previously used for coffee, exotic spices and fruit, which influence its unique flavor. And while it has nothing to do with Sag Harbor Rum’s flavor, it’s hard to ignore their fantastic black label, complete with a white whale that’s synonymous with the village of origin.

Sag Harbor Rum is available at liquor stores and bars around the Hamptons, North Fork and Shelter Island. In Sag Harbor, try buying at Long Wharf Wines (631-725-2400) or Water Street Wines & Spirits (631-725-9178). Visit sagharborrum.com for more places to buy, online orders, as well as additional information, recipes and some sweet T-shirts and hoodies.

LiV Vodka
LiV Vodka, Photo: Courtesy Long Island Spirits

Made by Long Island Spirits, Long Island’s first craft distillery, in Baiting Hollow on the North Fork, LiV Vodka (LiV rhymes with “five”) is a local artisan distilled potato vodka crafted from 100 percent sustainably and locally farmed marcy russet potatoes from Long Island. This smaller varietal potato, about 2 inches in diameter, contributes more skin to fruit, adding to the vodka’s richness of flavor and viscosity. LiV is naturally gluten free and created through traditional small batch pot and column distillation. The result—which has a distinctive vanilla nose, creamy mouth feel with vanilla, banana and citrus flavors with just enough fire on the finish—has been embraced by the world’s foremost mixologists. Also try LiV Ristretto Espresso Vodka, crafted with a delicate blend of LiV’s original vodka and all natural barista selected espresso.

LiV Vodka is available at dozens of restaurants and liquor stores across the Twin Forks. Try picking up a bottle at McNamara Liquors in Bridgehampton (631-537-1230) or Murphy’s Spirit Shoppe in Mattituck (631-298-8100). Visit lispirits.com to find all the locations and learn more about LiV, the distillery and its complete line of locally produced spirits.

Pine Barrens Whisky
Pine Barrens Whisky, Photo: Courtesy Long Island Spirits

While visiting Long Island Spirits’ website, make sure to check out their Pine Barrens Whisky—the first American single malt whisky to be distilled on Long Island. Instead of creating whisky from a regular mash, Pine Barrens uses an actual finished 10%ABV barley wine English styled Ale Beer with a high hop count. The result is spicy and rich with velvet-smooth maltiness and sweet hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and caramel qualities on the finish. For beer lovers, the hoppy flavor also shines through, providing that same sweet on the tongue and smoothness throughout.

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