Create a well-crafted gift for grown-ups, even when “crafting” isn’t your thing.

Black Bush whiskey

Photo © AA World Travel Library/Alamy, excerpted from Tasting Whiskey

When our kids were in elementary school, there were constant fund-raisers: pizza sales, wreath sales, fruit sales, and the dreaded “Tricky Tray.” The school would send home a Styrofoam lunch tray with instructions to build a themed assortment of donated stuff that “fit” on the tray and could be sold: movie passes, crafts, or edible gifts. I’m a word guy: my trays always looked like a 5-year-old had assembled them in the back of a moving dump truck. I hated that event.

I’m great when motivated, though. The next time you have a holiday party to attend and need a gift for your host, here’s how to design a “Drink Up!” Tricky Tray that could also revolutionize school fund-raising.

You don’t know what whiskey they like, so get an assortment. You can’t go wrong with a bourbon (Maker’s Mark is milder; or try the gutsier Evan Williams Single Barrel), a Scotch (Johnnie Walker Black’s is a standard; or upgrade to single malt with Glenlivet 12 or a lightly smoky Highland Park 12), and an Irish (Bushmills Black Bush, or the sweet, friendly Green Spot). It’s not cheap, but neither are you, sport.

My battle cry is “Don’t let anyone tell you how to drink your whiskey!” (a bit long for an actual battle cry, but I’m sticking with it), so include two types of glasses: two Glencairn whisky glasses for “serious” nosing and tasting, and two squat, solid Old-Fashioned glasses that you can wrap your hand around for drinking whiskey. Add a cocktail shaker, a solid wooden muddler, and some silicone molds for those big ice cubes that chill the whiskey without diluting it as quickly (they look cool, too).

Now that’s a Tricky Tray. All you need yet is a copy of Tasting Whiskey as a final flourish so your host will know what to do with all this stuff!

Lew Bryson

Lew Bryson, the author of Tasting Whiskey, is the managing editor, features writer, and columnist for Whisky Advocate magazine. He lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

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