Gifts for tipplers

Schoolhouse Brewery. Photo: Aaron McKenzie Fraser/N.S. Tourism

Reaching for a six-pack or a bottle of wine? Read on for something more memorable

A day trip to Schoolhouse Brewery
You could justify a day trip to any of Nova Scotia’s many breweries. If you’re taking someone on their first beery expedition, we recommend a trip to Windsor.

Schoolhouse Brewery pairs a unique setting (the eponymous school dates back to the 1860s) with a broad range of approachable beers. The Principal pale ale, a light and flavourful sipper, is the best way to get started.

Unfiltered: An Irreverent History of Beer in Nova Scotia by Steven Laffoley
Today, craft brewing is a Nova Scotian success story. Residents of the province consume about eight litres of beer annually per capita. But the beverage hasn’t always been so loved.

Its long hidden history on the East Coast is full of strange stories, which local author Steven Laffoley explores to good effect in his latest book from Pottersfield Press, available through the usual online retailers or independent shops like Bookmark Halifax or the King’s Co-Op Book Store.

Bitters from Compass Distillers
Most local mixologists are well stocked with mainstay spirits like vodka and gin, but gift givers often overlook the other ingredients they need for quality cocktails. Compass Distillers makes its artisanal craft spirits from scratch with locally sourced ingredients.

The store at 2533 Agricola Street in Halifax offers a giddiness-inducing selection; you can’t go wrong with bitters, an essential for many beloved cocktails. Grapefruit & Honey hops and Aromatic Orange will be sure to spice up your stocking, and later, cocktail.

Cocktail Shakers from Big Eric’s
Owned and operated in Atlantic Canada, Big Eric’s is the supplier of choice for many local bars and restaurants, selling everything from cleaning supplies to cocktail shakers. For $24.59 you can pick up a classic 30-ounce stainless steel cocktail shaker set, just like the one your favourite bartender uses, from the store at 171 John Savage Ave. in Burnside.

The Crafty Bartender Glassware Set 
This one isn’t locally made, but is at least made in Canada, which often isn’t the case with bar supplies and glassware. “Canada’s original fully stocked online cocktail supply shop” offers glassware sets at a shockingly reasonable $40, and they’re dishwasher safe. (Give them a rinse after, though. No one wants to examine their brandy through a spotty snifter). With lots of styles in stock for martinis, classic cocktails, or your basic on-the-rocks, your lucky recipient will learn that the right glassware really does make a difference.

Coldstream Clear Liquor Collection
Warm up with Coldstream’s collection of artisanal liquors, made in Nova Scotia at the Stewiacke distillery. The sweet flavours of salted caramel, classic coffee, homemade apple pie, crazy coconut, and cinnamon hot shots pair perfectly with a hot chocolate or morning coffee.

Nine Locks Russian Imperial Stout & Barley Wine Gift Set
Boxed with a bow for any occasion, Nine Locks has you covered with this pairing of big, boozy, special-occasion beers. (An ideal thank-you for a dinner invitation). It includes a Belgian beer glass, plus bombers of barrel-aged imperial stout and barleywine. “Explore the complexities of dark, barrel-aged beers,” says the brewer.

Alexander Keith’s Classic IPA Beer Glass
There is a certain segment of the population for whom the conversation about locally made beer begins and ends with Alexander Keith’s IPA. And there’s nothing wrong with that; drink what makes you happy, we say. And for those loyalists, a Keith’s Classic IPA Beer Glass will be a most welcome gift, a way to fly their flag while enjoying Nova Scotia’s most famous beer.

Tankard from Nova Scotia Makers Market
There’s nothing like 24 ounces of clay to say, “This is a person who is serious about their beverages.”

Ostentatious, unnecessary, and certain to become the recipient’s favourite vessel, the $55 tankard is made by local artisans and glazed in liquorice black and bronze. Keep your cold ones cool and your bling game on point.

Sparkling Mead from Planter’s Ridge
Mead is a latecomer to Nova Scotia’s craft beverage game, but it’s making up for lost time. If you’re new to its honey-fuelled goodness, this one is an ideal introduction. Made from Wolfville’’s wild clover honey, Planter’s Ridge sparkling mead is quite unlike anything you’d expect to find at a winery. The medium-sweet finish and delightful sparkles will surely bring your senses back to spring — the perfect present for that one friend who’s counting down the days till equinox.  

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