Balvenie1

Santa, be a Scotsman tonight.

So, what terrors await thee ’neath the Christmas tree this year? Horrible, horrible clothes? Music from a relative who has no idea what you like? The dreaded "gag" gift? (A Chia Pet is funny once. Once!)

Next time you come around to my place, check out the basement. It’s piled floor to ceiling with useless crapola. It’s gotten to be such a prolific dumping site, that we can’t even find the washer and dryer. Now we’re forced to schlep our clothes to the laundromat where we’re at the mercy of cut purses, drug-addled babblers, escaped lunatics, three-card Monty sharps, and fundamentalist missionaries prepared to debate metaphysics till Doomsday.

The point is, I have too much crap. And approximately 94 percent of my detritus can be traced to uninspired Christmas gift-giving. It’s all there: George Foreman grills, macramé kits, bath robes, magnetic poetry, pogo sticks, bottles of malodorous cologne, snow globes, coffee mugs (I don’t drink coffee, thankyouverymuch), and at least a dozen jigsaw puzzles that have inexplicably ended up in the same box. Which is great if you’ve ever wanted to see the Great Pyramid of Giza located a little closer to the Alps.

Don’t pussyfoot around this year. Get the lush on your list a bottle of something memorable and affordable. For instance:

Aviation Gin Buy local! Aromatic, herbaceous, and shockingly drinkable (straight!) Aviation is a Dutch-style gin distilled right here in the Rose City. Even a gin and tonic, the most prosaic well drink of them all, becomes something altogether more bracing and complex.

Balvenie Single Malt Scoth Whiskey It’s hard to go wrong with a good single malt, but I can tell you that after my girlfriend got me a fifth of Balvenie for Christmas two years ago, I knew it was true love. Yes, a bottle of Balvenie 30-year can retail for upwards of $500, but let’s face it: We don’t love anybody that much. Stick to the 15-year, which is closer to $50. Sweet, smoky, and smooth as a James Bond pick-up line, it’s totally acceptable to crack open this bad boy whilst the rug rats run amok around the tree. Cheers!

Flor de Caña Rum This Nicaraguan spirit company has many superb varieties of rum, ranging from the top-shelf and spendy Centario Gold 18 Year, to the modestly priced 4 Year Gold, which is in the Sailor Jerry/Captain Morgan neighborhood cost-wise. Caramel and exotic spice notes are abundant.

Hardy’s "Whiskers Blake" Tawny Port On a budget this year? Welcome to the club. Fortunately, a bottle of "Whiskers Blake" from Australia will set you back a measly $12 or so. And for the money it’s a respectably rosy and robust after-dinner delight.

Wild Turkey American Honey A bottle goes for around $20, and it’s money well spent. A raft of cocktail pundits raved about American Honey served chilled and on the rocks, but I prefer this velvety honey liqueur (picture a more rustic version of Drambuie) as a crucial additive in a hot drink. A generous pour mixed with a mug of apple-cinnamon Theraflu became my most reliable restorative during an otherwise miserable bout with the flu this season.