My wife worries about the number of t-shirts, hats, and hoodies I buy from local breweries. And yes, I admit it’s a problem. So much so that we may have to set up a special t-shirt budget soon to save ourselves from financial ruin. Guess what’s on my Christmas list this year?
Many places offer great loot (including T-shirts) this holiday season, including Queen City Radio, the Tuba Baking Company, Tortilleria Garcia, and Longfellow to name a few.
Given the financial strain on our local restaurants and bars this year, many of them are increasing their vacation offerings. Here are just a few that caught my attention.
HomeMaker’s Bar in Over-the-Rhine has just published The HomeMakers Guide to Entertaining, a must-have book to get you through the holidays (and life in general) with tips for making small plates, cocktails, party preparation, and more. You can purchase the print version ($ 18.99) at the bar or download a digital version ($ 9.99) from their website.
Cincinnati Christmas Gift Guide: Ideas that will keep your dollars local
HomeMakers co-owner Catherine Manabat said the guide was inspired by the old, fun guidebooks that spirt companies occasionally put out with cocktails, meal recipes and tips for entertainment at home.
The Arnold’s Bar and Grill crew put together A Holly-Jolly Hangover ($ 18), a great vacation album with local bands like Jake Speed and The Freddies, and The Tillers playing Christmas music. They also sell Cincinnati-themed Christmas hats and other loot.
One gift package I really love is Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey’s Christmas Gift Package, which includes a cast iron lodge pan along with Boomtown’s famous biscuit mix, a leather-bound bottle, a $ 25 Boomtown gift card, some jam, and a box of matches ($ 99).
Despite being a coffee drinker, part of what got me through this pandemic is the occasional afternoon tea break. The new ritual also gives me a great excuse to stop by Churchill’s Fine Teas (with locations in Findlay Market and Rookwood Commons). It’s also a great place for last minute gifts. Right now I’m looking at the Christmas Present Gift Set ($ 49.95), which contains 12 soul-warming teas with flavors like orange and cinnamon spices, caramel, and almonds. The teas come in a pretty black box with descriptions on the lid.
If you land at Churchill’s Findlay Market this weekend, be sure to pick up some of the beautifully wrapped Middle Eastern candy ($ 8-35) from Ibtisam Masto, an owner of Olive Tree Catering, including ma’amoul cookies , Baklava and much more. She will be there on Saturday, December 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Also visit Taste of Belgium and get a 3 pack of Belgian waffles or gingerbread waffles from Liège. This makes a delicious, distinctly European, stocking gift ($ 12 per pack).
You can also purchase a Cincy Pride Shaker Set ($ 30) from Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices, which includes OTR Butt Rub, 513, Cincy Chili, and Cincy Fried spice mixes. For more gift ideas from Findlay Market, visit the website at findlaymarket.org.
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I wrote a story earlier this year that highlighted the number of amazing cheese makers here in Cincinnati and the problems they had during the pandemic. You can support them by buying one of the many customizable cheese and sausage sets as a Christmas (or New Years) surprise. Wine, local snacks, and other small gifts are available at The Rhined, OTR, Urban Stead, Walnut Hills, Lamp Post Cheese in Lebanon, and the Share Cheesebar in Pleasant Ridge.
In northern Kentucky, Bouquet has a tasty selection of homemade pickled red onion and cucumber chips ($ 5), homemade mustard ($ 6), and hot sauce ($ 8). What I like the most, however, is the smoked, old-fashioned kit ($ 25). It comes with homemade smoked simple syrup, black nut bitters, bourbon smoked sea salt, and sorghum (with recipe card). You can (and should) add a bottle of New Riff Single Barrel for a total of $ 75.
Pasta as a gift for stockings? Damn why not? Especially when it comes from Khora, where you can buy a bag of the excellent homemade dry noodles made from aged grains ($ 16). You can choose from Bucatini, Garganelli, Gemelli or Mafaldine. Call 24 hours in advance, and you can also purchase a Christmas cookie kit ($ 25) from pastry chef Megan Ketover. It contains a dozen freshly baked sugars and gingerbread cookies with a variety of frosting, frosting, and sprinkles.
Finally, I’m a little surprised that the whole town hasn’t heard of MadHouse Vinegar. They make some of the best – and most interesting – small-batch vinegars in the country. And they’re based in North Bend. Varieties include Spicebush, Ramp, and Sweet Corn Vinegar ($ 30), which can be found in the company’s home base at the Carriage House Farm Market or in grocery stores like Butler’s Pantry in Covington, which also sell cheese, liquor, and other products from the region can buy last minute gifts. I just wish they sold t-shirts too.
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