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Photos by Kiran Herbert.

Gift Guide 2018: Local (and Delicious) Stuff for Your Foodie Friends

We taste-tested our way through scores of local creations to find our favorites, so that this holiday season you can give the gift of good taste.

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For the Aspiring Barkeep

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

There’s a whiskey lover in every family and friend group—buy yours a bottle of 291’s Barrel Proof Colorado Bourbon and stay in their good graces forever. It’s not cheap, but the Colorado Springs distillery has racked up multiple national awards for good reason. This hooch is smooth enough to drink straight, but it also makes a great cocktail. Mix it with the Apple Pie or Autumn Berry flavored shrubs from Rocky Mountain Vinegar Works (both made with organic apple cider vinegar) for a perfectly sweet-tart seasonal sipper. If your recipient isn’t a shrub fan, opt for the Ginger or Orgeat (almond) syrup from Boulder-based Bougie Syrups instead. These sweet mixers are the ultimate way to add dimension to a Moscow Mule or a hot toddy.  distillery291.com, $105; rockymountainvinegar.com, $15-16; bougiesyrups.com, $8-$14

For the Consummate Host

Photo by Kiran Herbert

Going to a holiday party? Show up with world-class charcuterie. Cured with celery powder and other spices, salt, and time, Il Porcellino’s salumi are made from humanely raised animals sourced from farms throughout Colorado. Head over to the Berkeley store to pick up the seasonal special: Your choice of three or four six-ounce salamis (choose from nine flavors, including Spanish Chorizo and traditional Italian Finnocchiona) neatly packaged with a branded cutting board. If you’re really out to impress, add a jar of the shelf-stable spicy bacon jam, a smoky blend of house-made bacon, jalapeño, and herbs. Spread it on a fresh baguette for a fantastic party snack. ilporcellinodenver.com, $60 for a three-pack salami gift box, $80 for a four-pack; bacon jam $7 for a 4-ounce jar

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For Your Friend Who Won’t Stop Talking About Safta

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

Who doesn’t want to learn to make amazing hummus and pita? In September, New Orleans chef Alon Shaya opened Safta, Denver’s first modern Israeli restaurant, and Mile High City dwellers have been freaking out over his fantastic food ever since. You can learn Shaya’s tricks for silky hummus and fluffy pita bread (and much, much more) in his eponymous cookbook, which was released earlier this year. Shaya follows the two-time James Beard Award winner as he moves across continents, developing his palate and skill set along the way. Sections like “Finding Home in the South,” “Sourjon to Italy,” and “Echoes of Israel” (not to mention sub-headings like “Arrested for the Munchies”) speak to the types of autobiographical food stories you’ll find inside. Shaya is so much more than a cookbook. Available at most major bookstores, $35

For the Couple Who’s Obsessed With Dining at All the Hotspots

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

Feast Locally, a small-batch dining club, is the brainchild of Denver foodie Annie Stookesberry of the popular Instagram account @feastdenver. Here’s how Feast Locally works: Pay $80 up front for six months of membership and you’ll receive a titanium card that you can whip out to score discounts at top Denver restaurants, specialty wine and food shops, pop-up events, and private dinners. Typically, cardholders can expect to receive 20 percent off their total tab (alcohol included!) at four or five different restaurants each month. New restaurants are announced at the beginning of the month via email—November offers included Narrative, the Pig & the Sprout, Jack’s Uptown Grill, Denver Milk Market, and Nomad Taqueria. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. feastlocally.com, $80

For Those Who Can Take the Heat

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

Everyone knows someone who’s got hot sauce in their bag. For a heat-packing present, look no further than Green Belly Hot Sauces. Boulder-based Juan Ignacio Stewart has been making his mother Maria del Carmen’s traditional Guatemalan recipes for four years—the spicy, flavorful blends are a fridge must-have. The Red Belly variety gets deep, smoky flavor from sun-dried Cobanero peppers, roasted tomatoes, and garlic, while the slightly spicier green sauce is herbaceous and packed with habaneros and garlic. Drizzle both over a sliced avocado and serve with Boulder Tortillas’ Blue Corn chips for an addictive snack.
greenbellyfoods.com, $8

For Your Smoothie-a-day Roommate

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

Adaptogens are plants or herbs that purportedly help your body deal with life’s stresses and promote overall wellness. Dram’s line of adaptogenic drops, made with 300mg of CBD from Colorado-grown hemp, is formulated to promote restful sleep, lessen anxiety, and dissolve tension. As per Dram’s ethos, all ingredients are organic or wild, and some are even grown on the Poor Farm, the brand’s new headquarters in Salida. Take a dropper straight, or add it to your smoothie, tea, or seltzer. Packaged in attractive two-ounce bottles, these tinctures make the perfect stocking stuffer. dramapothecary.com, $14

For the Office

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

Few things get folks in the holiday mood like a warm beverage, especially one spiced with clove, allspice, and cardamom. Denver-based Teakoe’s line of loose leaf teas, called “Trailhead Chai,” offers something for everyone in your workplace, whether the recipient prefers sipping caffeine-free (the “zesty and peppery” Outpost Orange Spice), wants a cup that’s rich and aromatic (smoky Fireside White Chocolate), or something sweet and slightly indulgent (the peppermint and dark chocolate-flavored Happy Camper Cocoa). Add a nip of whiskey to the Horizon Hot Ginger—a bright blend of green tea chai, popped rice, and chile pepper—and transition the vibe from workday to holiday happy hour. teakoe.com, $10

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For All Your Holiday Guests

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

When friends stop by this season, put out a bowl of On Tap Kitchen Pretzels. Made in Boulder from organic flour, these small-batch snacks are heavy on the flavor and exceptionally crunchy. Great as is or alongside a bowl of mustard for dipping, favorite flavors include the Salt & Vinegar, as well as the seasonal Salt & Pepper and sweet-savory Spiced Honey. The latter, says one tester, “taste just like the holidays.” ontapkitchen.com, $5 for a 7-ounce bag ($3 for a 3.5-ounce)

Photo by Kiran Herbert

For the Health Conscious Loved One

The gift of good health lasts a lifetime. That’s the idea behind Moringa Infusions’ holiday boxes, which include three eight-ounce sweet sipping vinegars, a pint glass, a shot glass, a cocktail stirrer, and calling cards outlining what kind of health benefits the recipient can expect from Moringa’s superfood-infused products. The vinegars are made with locally sourced honey, raw apple cider vinegar, nutritious moringa, and various organic herbs, berries, and flowers, and they’re just as good sipped on their own as they are mixed with seltzer. moringainfusions.com, $79

For Chocoholics

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

In addition to Cultura’s usual array of drinking chocolates, cacao-infused teas and bars, the Denver-based craft chocolate house has several sweet gift boxes available for the winter season. The Holiday Collection—not to be confused with the Holiday Truffle Set—includes five chocolate bars in flavors like dark chocolate with mulled wine, milk chocolate with gingerbread, and white chocolate with eggnog. We’re especially keen on the Spirit Collection though, which melds single-origin beans with alcohol from primarily Colorado distillers. The Rum & Raisin (made with Bear Creek Spiced Rum and 72 percent Guatemalan chocolate) and the Whiskey & Nibs (with Deerhammer Single Malt Whiskey and 70 percent Haitian chocolate) are particularly winning combinations. Chocolate tasting instructions and information on Cultura’s bean-to-bar sourcing accompany each box.
culturachocolate.com/, $30

For When You’re On Breakfast Duty

Photo by Kiran Herbert.

The best holiday guests bring breakfast. Not only is it one less thing for your host to have to think about, but it’s also a thoughtful way to showcase Mile High City flair. New mini Maple and mini Pumpkin Noosa yogurts make the perfect base for Purely Elizabeth granola. Gluten-free folks will devour Birch Bender’s Pumpkin Paleo pancakes, and every carnivore in the house will love hormone-free Tender Belly Bacon. Pro tip: Tender Belly’s cherry-wood-smoked bacons, in flavors like Java-Rubbed and Habanero, will enhance any holiday side dish (we’re looking at you, Brussels sprouts). noosayoghurt.com, $4.99; purelyelizabeth.com, $5.99-$6.99; birchbenders.com, $4.99; tenderbelly.com, $14.95-17.25 or $59 a month for the monthly subscription (includes four pounds of bacon every month)

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