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In defense of alcohol gift sets

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Crystal Head Vodka

Somehow alcohol gift sets are grouped with gift cards and cash in the impersonal, cop-out gift category. Who doesn’t like cash? Or alcohol for that matter. Even if it’s not as personalized as a photo collage from that Spring break trip to Key West, nothing says "I love you" like a bottle of your friend’s favorite booze, coupled with some cool accessories.

This year, liquor brands have stepped up their game. While the standard bottle of scotch and two glasses is still prevalent, the gifts with purchase have evolved to include everything from classy leather coasters to bourbon barrel drink shakers. Here are some of the more unique holiday sets available locally:

Total Wine:

The Henderson and Summerlin outposts have the standard booze and glass sets but also full-on gift baskets featuring wine coupled with sweet or savory treats, ranging from $39.99-$74.99.

• For the cheese head: Cloud Break Chardonnay and Cloud Break Pinot Noir with peanut and sesame stick mix and rosemary and olive oil baked crackers.

• For the sweet tooth: Cloud Break Chardonnay and Cloud Break Pinot Noir with Biscoff cookies peppermint puffs, butterscotch candies and chocolate cookies.

Bottle and a bonus gift sets:

• For the hard to impress mother-in-law: Perrier Jouet Brut 2004 with two champagne flutes. The signature PJ flowers on the bottle look even prettier on the flutes- sure to score you some points with mom. $129.99

• For the golfer: Jim Beam Bold Choice with a golf towel. Face it, half of a good experience on the golf course is drinking with your buddies so it just makes sense to include a golf towel. $17.99

• For the bourbon lover: Wild Turkey 101 with a stainless steel bourbon barrel shaker. Chances are, he/she already has a collection of fancy bourbon and enough snifters to open a bar, but would enjoy mixing drinks in a shaker reminiscent of where the luxurious liquid came from. $19.99

• For the Dan Akroyd fan: Crystal Head Vodka with skull head martini glasses. The Blues Brother would want you to drink his signature vodka out of what might be the world’s coolest-stemmed martini glasses. 750 mL bottle with one glass: $47.99; 1.75 L bottle with two glasses: $90.99

• For the Dr. Who enthusiast: Beefeater Gin in a “cradle” as they call it, which looks like a traditional London phone booth or basically the Tardis. $21.99

• For the outdoorsman: Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Ducks Unlimited Commemorative Edition with a duck bottle stopper. If you’re not familiar with the brand, you probably don’t spend enough time at Bass Pro Shops. Even if it’s unfamiliar, chances are, you have heard of Jack and who doesn’t love decorative ducks on barware? $36.99

Lee’s Discount Liquor:

• For the bachelor: Johnnie Walker Black Label with signature logo coasters. All beverages should be properly coastered, even if your buddy doesn’t know a highball from a hurricane glass. $23.99

• For the locally-sourced fanatic: Alien Tequila Tequila Silver with two smaller bottles and two shot glasses. Your “locals only” friend may not know that the tequila brand is headquartered in Niko, Nevada and will definitely be impressed by the alien head-shaped bottle. $39.99

Hennessy Holiday Gift Set

•The cognac lover: Hennessy Holiday gift set. Get your friend the best of both worlds with a 750 mL bottle of Hennessy VS plus a 50 mL bottle of Hennessy Black to test out. $26.99

• For the indie hipster crowd: RumChata with shaker. Horchata was an indie beverage long before Vampire Weekend started singing about it. Now it comes pre-mixed with rum plus a handy shaker.$21.99

• For the glassware snob: Grand Marnier 150 (officially called Cuvée Spéciale Cent Cinquantenaire) with two Riedel snifters. The snazzy special addition liquor is made with 50 year old cognacs and even made fun of itself with the marketing slogan: “Hard to find, impossible to pronounce, and prohibitively expensive.” Even if it’s not your favorite drink, the elegant Riedel snifters certainly help justify the price. $239.99

• For the aspiring rock star: John Varvatos Limited Edition Patron Anjeo with guitar head stopper. Some might not be able to pronounce the designer’s name while others don’t leave home without at least one article of his clothing. Rockers and rock fans alike will enjoy the specially-designed guitar head bottle stopper. $49.99

• For the recent grad or parent: Johnny Walker Blue in a leather case with two snifters. For many, the holidays offer enough to celebrate but if you want to reward a recent graduate or perhaps a new parent for their latest milestone, Johnny Walker Blue is always a solid choice, and with the primo packaging and extras, this gift set is a sure bet. $169.99

Note: these products were available as of Dec. 21. Please check individual locations of Lee’s and Total Wine for availability.

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