Boozy Gifts For Every Kind of Dad
There’s a quote that is often misattributed to Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have him around. But when I was 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.”* Fathers are not all the same, and not everyone can boast a friendly, “let’s have a beer and watch the game together” kind of fellowship. Father’s Day can be a tricky one for many, whether that means a complicated relationship with him or that he’s simply a guy who can be tough to shop for. Many Father’s Day gift guides throw out a bunch of baller whiskies, wines and beer or go with sports themes (when was it decreed that all dads watch baseball, play golf and like to grill?) and call it a day. However, wouldn’t it be simpler to shop for the dad you have instead of someone else’s idea of of the ultimate patriarch? Here are some famous fathers everyone in their own way can relate to, and what they would probably drink if you could buy them an appropriate tipple for Father’s Day.
Mad Men’s Don Draper (Jon Hamm): It often felt as though work came first, family second. However, the moments he’s been around are to be treasured. Don was a Canadian Club drinker, and it just so happens that they’ve released a brand new 100% Rye. Though it’s not terribly exciting to sip neat (it was matured in used whiskey barrels instead of virgin oak, which softens it significantly, and it’s missing some spicy nuances), it’s smooth and light, and sure does the trick in his favorite Old Fashioned cocktails. Plus at around $20 a bottle, it fits your budget as a struggling actor, teacher, musician, artist or non profit crusader - the career path you chose because you vowed never to be an office slave like him. Don’t worry, only his secretary knows how much it really cost.
Mr. Mom (Michael Keaton), Modern Family’s Phil Dunfy (Ty Burrell): He’s pretty much the opposite of Don. There’s no question the kids came first and he was the one to bandage the wounds, assist with homework and make grilled cheese sandwiches while multitasking with an iron. He deserves a relaxing drink, like a crisp gin for homemade Martinis and gin and tonics, such as 2015 NY International Spirits Competition silver medalist Portobello Road or the aromatic, distinctly New England Bull Boy Distillers Estate Gin out of Boston, made with a combination grain and McIntosh apple base that has subtle accents of lavender and peppercorn. Both around $30.
Charles “Pa” Ingalls (Michael Landon) Little House on the Prairie, Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson) Poltergeist: No matter how hard he tried to be the world’s greatest dad, circumstances beyond his control (read: shit) just happened, but he always came to the rescue (and didn’t ask too many questions). Maybe you were the one kid who had to watch him drop everything to search for your sibling who somehow managed to get lost on an afternoon walk on a mountain, stuck in a flood, sucked into paranormal purgatory or simply stayed out too late and wasn’t entirely honest about his or her whereabouts. Or maybe you were the sister or brother who always caused the trouble. Either way, he should probably keep a good brandy around for such emergencies (or warding off unholy demons) like the new Sacred Bond Bottled-in-Bond, the first product from the newly revived Christian Brothers, one of the original wineries and distilleries in Napa Valley since the 1880s. At 100 proof it’s an excellent wind-down on the rocks or as a base for brandy cocktails, like Sidecars. $26
Homer Simpson (Dan Castellenata) the Simpsons, Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) Married… With Children, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) All in the Family: How can you tell what your dad is thinking? Answer: He’ll tell you! You might not always agree with his opinions, but you still gotta love the guy for telling it like it is, and when push comes to shove, he’s downright dependable. Don’t get too fancy. He’ll appreciate the sentiment, but what he really wants is what he always drinks, a good beer that’s not too hoppy. Homer drank Duff, Al drank Girlie Girl Beer (the official beer of his anti-feminism club “No Ma’am”), Archie drank Best Quality (B&B) beer. Go for a couple of six packs of Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils (he’ll appreciate the irony), Sam Adams Noble Pils or 2016 NY International Beer Competition silver medal winner Saranac Kolsch.
Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) Jaws, John McClane (Bruce Willis) Die Hard, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) in Vacation: He’s an uncontainable soul who is always up for an adventure, usually driven by a desire to protect and please the family, and shows no signs of slowing down (and sometimes shows up when least expected). He’ll appreciate something that’s one of a kind and perhaps even a little hard to track down, but worth the extra effort. Booker’s Rye “Big Time Batch” is one of the final works of late Jim Beam distiller Booker Noe, whose own avid curiosity led to a foray into rye with an experimental mash bill. This rare and extremely limited 13 year old whiskey with enticing aromatics and spicy flavors was released by his son and successor Fred, bottled uncut at full cask strength at 68.1% ABV. $300
Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) The Andy Griffith Show, Robbie Douglas (Fred MacMurray) My Three Sons, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) Sleepless in Seattle, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) Kramer vs. Kramer, Jack (Harry Dean Stanton) Pretty in Pink, Fred G. Sanford (Redd Fox) Sanford and Son: Growing up, he pulled double duty fulfilling both parental roles while you were still at a young age, and forced himself to adapt to the startling incidents life chucked in his path, sometimes not with terribly, let’s say, elegant, results. He’s not only your dad, but your best friend. Give the single dad a great single malt, such as Macallan Edition 1, selected from ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, that, like your relationship, is complex and rewarding. $90
Atticus Finch (portrayed in the film by Gregory Peck) To Kill a Mockingbird, Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach) Dirty Dancing: He’s an intellectual hero who has your best interests at heart while fighting for justice despite the odds. Now that you are an adult, give him something that demonstrates your shared sense of altruism while digging into some spirit nerdery. Mezcal Viejo Indecente Ensamble is produced from 100% fair trade-sourced Madrecuishe and Espadín agave grown without pesticides, which are then roasted in small batches together in a clay oven before distillation. This process not only reduces charred flavors but also saves a few trees by not using lumber as fuel. The ripe agave flavors are accented with warm and peppery spices and citrus notes. $65.00
Léon (Jean Reno) The Professional, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin)Homeland, Gabe Kotter (Gabriel Kaplan) Welcome Back Kotter: While not a biological dad, this happenstance connection has become a father figure, your mentor, your sensai. (Admit it, youlike hearing all those stories about Uncle Max.) He deserves some Father’s Day appreciation too. The new Suntory Toki (which means “time” in Japanese) includes both malt and grain whiskies (Yamazaki, Hakeshu and Chita) which each lend their own wizened characters to the final blend. It’s chewy, intriguing and gratifying, perfect sipped on the rocks or in a highball. $40
Vito Andolini Corleone (Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro) The Godfather Parts I and II, Papa Pope (Joe Morton) Scandal, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) Star Wars: He’s scary and a total control freak, a downright villain by most counts. There have been moments his urge to dominate even seemed to overshadow what should be his unconditional love, and maybe they even do. Still, you’re stuck with him. Don’t give him a reason to throw a light saber-fueled tantrum. Brennivín is an Icelandic grain-potato spirit with caraway flavors akin to an aquavit. It's made from a traditional recipe with origins from a long time ago and traveled over lands faraway. Local Icelanders call it “Black Death” referring to its label, though this spirit from a cold land has a way of warming even the darkest (and most skeptic) soul. You might even say that in a refreshing citrusy cocktail, it’s an offer he couldn’t refuse. $40
George Bailey (James Stewart) It’s a Wonderful Life, Danny Williams (Danny Thomas) Make Room for Daddy, Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) The Munsters , Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) Bob’s Burgers: He is a flawed, but devoted father who was sometimes challenged balancing career and family and didn’t have the greatest fatherhood playbook from which to follow. He can be prone to temperamental outbursts, but deep down, he lives for the moments he can spend time with the kids, and he would like nothing more than a gift that you can enjoy together (after all, no man is a failure if he has friends). Pop the cork on Hindsight 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (gold medal 2016 NY International Wine Competition). Its grapes were grown at the Bella Vetta Vineyard at 2,000 feet over Napa Valley, which lends it a memorable balance of fruit, richness and tannins. It'll go great with one of Bob's burgers too. $65
Gomez Addams (John Astin, Raúl Juliá, Tim Curry) The Addams Family, Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) Parenthood, Garp (Robin Williams) The World According to Garp: He’s a loveable, obsessive compulsive goofball who will reach to the ends of the earth for a laugh and has a fierce overprotective streak. In some ways, he relates to kids so well because his inner child never quite grew up. Give him a sophisticated rum that will not only convey your appreciation of his silly ways, but also remind him of the sweeter things in life. Ron Diplomático Reserva is full bodied, and like him a little intense, but rich in spices and warmth. $40
*There’s no way Mark Twain could have said these words referring to his own father, who died when he was still only 11. Not to mention, the earliest known date of this quote is 1915, though Twain died in 1910. Well, it sounds like something he would say, anyway. Like a good father’s day gift, it’s the thought that counts.