There’s nothing wrong with picking up a bottle of wine, slapping on a bow, and offering it up to hosts at a holiday party. It’s a rather nice thing to do, in fact. But if it leaves you feeling empty inside, I have another idea for you: a make-your-own old-fashioned cocktail kit.

Collect the following.

1. Fruit: Buy a small mason jar and fill it with homemade maraschino cherries. I have a recipe from Mike McSorley (Tini Bigs) right here.

You’ll also want to buy a few oranges to toss into the kit.

2. Bitters: A traditional old-fashioned calls for Angustura bitters, which you can buy at QFC or Fred Meyer or on the internet. But you might also consider buying some locally made Scrappy’s Bitters to promote experimentation. Orange and maple, for example, could both be fun to play with. You can buy those at DeLaurenti or 12th and Olive.

3. Booze: You can make an old-fashioned with bourbon or rye, for a spicier effect. I tend to have Makers Mark ($23) around the house so that’s what I often use. Blanton’s bourbon ($56) is wonderful too and boasts the coolest bottle in all Bourbontown—something to consider when giving a gift. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye is an excellent value at $22. But how is that going to help you if you can’t get any at Seattle liquor stores? Try (Ri)1. It’s $39.95 and widely available.

I love the herbal quality of an old-fashioned made with Ransom Old Tom gin from Portland, Oregon (another cool bottle), which costs $37.25, but that may be an acquired taste.

Bourbon is safest.

4. Glasses: Including glassware upgrades this bad boy to a premium gift. If you want to go for it, might I suggest these, the most elegant old-fashioned glasses I know.

I’m assuming your giftee has sugar (for the simple syrup) at home, but you can always throw in a fancy pack of some gourmet sugar and/or a fruit-peeling tool and/or a bartender’s spoon to complete the kit.

Either way, grab a basket or gift bag large enough to hold all the goods, toss ‘em in, and that’s pretty much that. Though you might consider attaching a card to your kit with a link to Robert Hess’s excellent instructional video on how to make a proper old-fashioned. I consulted it last Christmas before making OFs for my family, and they went over gangbusters.

Good times. Happy holidays.

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