Eat, Drink, Bee Merry

Edible holiday gifts for even the darkest of souls

Eat, Drink, Bee Merry

'Tis the season for elves and glitter, lights and carols. For those of us surviving the inherent cheerfulness of the holidays on a touch-and-go basis, it's also a time for fake smiles and hidden hangovers. Even though Mariah Carey reminds us every season that she doesn't care about presents (lie), we all know that waiting patiently underneath a poisonous clump of leaves is made more tolerable with a thoughtfully crafted hunk of chocolate or a bottle of barrel-aged whiskey. Whether you're shopping for extended family members, an important client, or that lover that left you hanging, we've got options from around town. Most importantly, giving good gifts is a great way to boost your own mood. (If you don't believe me, feel free to send me a bottle of liquor as a test.)

There's just no need to shop big-box corporate websites that will pile random crap into a wicker holster only to charge you a month's rent for a cornucopia that screams, "I really don't care enough to spend all this cash on something you'll actually like." Instead, many of the local boutiques and shops around town offer fantastic options. Antonelli's Cheese Shop, for example, has more than 16 different gift boxes available, ranging in price from $35-175. Because the gift of cheese is almost synonymous with the gift of life.

Eat (Sugar)

A freshly baked sugar cookie embodies the beauty of simplicity, which is ironic given their frequently realized destiny to become canvases for Jackson Pollock-esque gobs of icing and sprinkles. Still, decorating cookies is a great way to summon the lightness of the holiday spirit, even in a world of dark, twisted realities. La Patisserie has created a delightful way to pass along childlike joy to the curmudgeons in your life: sugar cookie decorating kits. Sure, you could bake your own cookies, but let's be honest, they're probably not tastier than this French-inspired boutique bakery version, and you're way behind on basically everything. The $25 kits include everything you need (except the wine) and will be available until Dec. 25 at both La Patisserie locations. Oh, and if you're shopping for the client or neighbor you most certainly would not want to spend extra time with, they've always got gift boxes of colorful macarons.

It's a toss-up between George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge for leader of the band of cold, cold hearts, but the Dickensian miser sports a more distinct outfit (top hat, hello), which makes him the clear winner for a chocolate mold. Chocolate pioneer Rex Morgan of Morgen Choc­o­late designed the Scrooge mold, and because he is the father of Chocolaterie Tessa's owner, Tessa Halstead, they get the exclusive rights. Available in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate, the 6.5-oz. delicious figurine retails for $18 and makes a bold proclamation sitting atop a desk or mantel. Own your bah humbug tendencies with pride, and then take sick joy in biting off the Scrooge head first. Chocolaterie Tessa also has two kinds of gift packages available for the holidays for the people more inclined to enjoy chocolate balls.

Drink (Local Whiskey)

If, like many of us, you hear "holiday spirit" and immediately think whiskey, you're in luck. Central Texas is home to several great distilleries, and yeah, Jameson is just fine in a pinch, but these three whiskey champions make a strong case for sending boozy baskets of locally sourced self-medication to all the people on your list. Plus, you'll earn major brownie points as a healer of soul and body when you add in the rest of the ingredients to make a therapeutic hot toddy (lemon, honey, and the simple refreshment of whichever water source you choose to include).

From grain to glass, everything is processed in house at Still Austin Whiskey Co. They've got three gift baskets this season: Craft Whiskey Lovers gift box ($80) which includes a leather flask, the Austin Bloody Mary gift box ($45) that boasts Bloody Revolution mix (which I believe is the best Bloody Mary mix around), and the Austin Whiskey Picnic gift box ($28) complete with tasting glasses that should definitely be utilized on a blanket. (Note: They've got uniquely Austin food truck Puli-Ra on-site in case shopping increases your potential for hanger.)

Treaty Oak's Red-Handed Bourbon Whiskey might be a great gift for that certain someone in your life who was born in Connecticut but got here as fast as she could. It just feels Texan. They've got a Justice League-type lineup of other spirits as well, and the recently opened Ghost Hill restaurant would make a lovely day trip destination.

Nine Banded Whiskey, named for the misunderstood rat-in-armor (the armadillo), is easy to sip. Casual, with a smooth finish, it's also great for cocktails. In case you're looking for a way to return to responsible drinking (as in, not just chugging from the bottle), the recipe below is delicious. (No worries at all if your cabinet is completely out of spices. It's whiskey; it can handle it.)

Apple Banded Cider
2 oz. Nine Banded Whiskey
3 oz. apple juice
1.5 tsp. Round Rock Honey
1 tsp. freshly crushed cinnamon, nutmeg, and anise

Bee Merry (Or Try, Anyway)

At the risk of being identified as a fangirl (I am), this might be my favorite Austin discovery of the year. Bee Delightful specializes in CBD-infused honey, which means it incorporates two things very close to my heart: naturally occurring anti-anxiety substances and honey. Canna Bees Rescue Blend is raw wildflower honey blended with honey from Bee Delightful's rescued bees, and then infused with an isolate form of CBD (cannabidiol). (Their mission is to rescue 1 million bees in this first year of operation.) Available in two strengths – 250 mg and 500 mg – you can hardly detect the flavor of the CBD, but the honey itself is delicious. Canna Bee honey won't get you "high," but there is significant evidence to suggest CBD provides relief from anxiety and depression, along with having anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Add it to your morning tea or just do what the rest of us do: Throw caution to the wind and eat a spoonful straight out of the jar.

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Scrooge, chocolate, whiskey, Gift Guide 2017

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