In the Spirit

That’s What She Said

Small but enjoyable gifts for the holiday season

By Tony Cross

I’m a huge procrastinator this time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I do pretty well in the gift-giving department. I try to be thoughtful, and probably spend a little beyond my means. But my gifts are dope. At least that’s what my ego says. My family and friends — you’ll have to ask them. Those who are at the bottom of the totem pole on my list of recipients (they actually appear in the “Should I?” column) are the ones that usually end up getting shafted.

Honest to goodness, it’s not because I shrug my shoulders and say, “Oh, well . . . ” but because I’ve always felt kind of silly giving gifts that have zero significance — you know, the stuff you grab in the aisle at any department/grocery store while you’re waiting in line to cash out. So, without further ado, here are a few ideas that I, personally, will be putting into practice this Christmas season, written down so I won’t forget what to buy. Yes, I am that lazy.

InStill Distilling Co. White Rum

I first met Leigh and Eric over the summer when we collaborated at an event in Pinehurst. I was pouring draft mojitos, and they donated their rum. Let’s just say that the keg blew fast, and people were upset that I didn’t bring more. Clayton, North Carolina’s first distillery (legal distillery, that is), is showcasing its rum. There’s a general misconception about rum — most folks think of Captain Morgan or Malibu when the spirit is mentioned. Nonsense. Local, and veteran owned, this white rum is fantastic for daiquiris and my carbonated mojitos. Trust me, I threw back five — I mean, ahem, two — daiquiris made with their rum while blasting the new Tool album back in August.

Why it’s personable: It’s a veteran owned company. OK, I already covered that. But did you know that Eric, who joined the police force after serving in the Army, was fired after seven years by his police chief after she found out that he owned a distillery? Google it. Here’s a daiquiri recipe that you’re going to jot down on a little gift tag and tie around the bottle.


2 ounces InStill rum

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Slightly less than 1/2 ounce rich cane sugar syrup

Smidgen of salt

Combine all ingredients into shaker, add ice, and shake hard for 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. No garnish.

Sutler’s Spirit Co. Gin

I’ve written a few times in the past about my man Scot Sanborn and his incredibly versatile gin. It’s so damn good that I’m telling you about it again. I do a lot of events and meet new people on a weekly basis. I get asked a lot about my opinion on certain spirits, and I’m kind of surprised that I’m still turning folks on to Sutler’s. It’s not juniper-forward like most gins that you probably drank out of your parents’ liquor cabinet; it’s got a lot going on, with coriander, orange and lemon peel, and yes, a little bit of juniper. That means that even if the friend or family member that you have in mind isn’t too keen on gin, this is the bottle that can change their mind.

Why it’s personable: It’s Winston-Salem’s first legal distillery, and Sutler’s probably has the sexiest packaging in the game. I guarantee that a majority of people wouldn’t give a flip even if they hated gin because the bottle looks that good.

Reverie Cocktails Bottle/Growler Delivery

Did you really think that I was going to skip over my baby girl? Actually, Reverie is my little brother’s baby girl. If you’re as lazy as I am, you might enjoy our pre-bottled Old Fashioneds or Sazeracs. Just pour over ice and enjoy. No, you don’t have to stir it with ice; we’ve already factored that in. Just pour and enjoy. Or pretend that you made it and wow your family and friends.

If you’d like something more bubbly and refreshing, then definitely check out our carbonated growlers. Drink options change weekly, but the quality remains the same (or so we’d like to think). We deliver and bring food, too. We kind of have to — it’s the law. Pre-bottled cocktails yield nine drinks, and our growlers can pour up to 10.

Why it’s personable: Because I just told you that Reverie is my niece, and we deliver to your door. C’mon.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

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