Available in stores in New York and San Francisco, and on the internet everywhere else, Bols Genever is the latest genever to hit the US market. It's also probably the best one with which to mix.
Genever is a very old precursor to gin that tastes like unaged whisky with gin flavorings. It is malty/grainy, and doesn't exactly substitute for gin or for whisky in recipes, which puts it in a new (old) category of spirits. Most of the other genevers on the market are very light jonge genevers (not much malt content) or aged oude genevers (higher malt content). The Bols Genever is at the level of corenwijn- extra high malt content- but is unaged. It seems to me this hits the sweet spot- it's strongly flavorful so you know you're mixing with it, and it's not wood-aged so you know you're supposed to.
It's not just an historical anomaly, it's really delicious- even if you only make the Improved Holland Gin Cocktail (recipe here).
Pernod or Kubler Absinthe
There are now a ton of absinthes on the market, but you don't need ton of different types of home. I think either of these are a great place to start as they're easily drinkable on their own and they mix well with others.
This gift pack of Glenmorangie expressions- the 10-year-old plus the port, sherry, and sauterns finishes- would make a fun way of trying each of them if you haven't had the pleasure already. The trouble may be finding the gift pack in stores.
Delamain Cognac Three-Pack
Another gift pack, this time for cognac lovers or explorers. It's a three-pack of 200ml bottles: one each of Pale & Dry, Vesper and Tres Venerable. This should set you back a little less than $100.
Glenrothes makes the cutest bottles in the scotch whisky industry, and the minis are even more adorable. They're the shiba inu puppies of whisky. The liquid is tasty too- more on that next week- but really in this case it's all about the bottles.
Oban Distiller's Edition 1993
More scotch? Yes please. I tend to lose little sample bottles around the house (note to marketers: send huge bottles) and just popped open this one found behind my desk last week to have a wee nip. Then I said "Damn! That's a good nip!" It tastes like salt, sweet peach insides, and wet white slimey mold (in a good way), the latter flavor probably added by its time spent aging in fino sherry casks. For me this is a great sipping whisky- delicious enough to keep me coming back to the bottle, but intensely rich so that I don't want to drink the whole bottle in one sitting.
This might be fun as a gift for a friend just getting in to cocktails. It's a six-pack of Fee Brothers bitters from Kegworks. Or for the more advanced cocktailian, how about this Orange Bitters Collection that is Regan's, Angostura, and Fee Brothers orange bitters bundled together.
Stirrings "Cocktail Connoisseur" Set
While I think that anyone who orders this set is something less than a connoisseur, it will make a great gift to your friends who enjoy easy-to-make girly drinks. It's a set of drink flavorings in flavors of Apple Martini, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Mojito, Pear Martini, Peach Bellini, Pomegranate, and Wild Blueberry.
I *do* have many other suggestions for spirits, but I have a story with nine more recommendations coming out in the San Francisco Bay Guardian soon. I'll link to it when it's online.