We love the hustle and bustle of Christmas as much as everyone else, but when it comes to gift shopping, we want that side of things to be as hassle-free as possible, thank you very much. That doesn’t mean that we cut corners – more that we’d rather spend our time putting serious thought into what we’re buying for our favourite people rather than using it pounding the streets.
Thank heavens for the NIO Cocktail website. Smart, easy-to-use, and packed with an array of gift ideas, it’s a one-stop-shop for all of the (many) cocktail lovers in our lives.
In case you haven’t heard of it, NIO stands for Needs Ice Only and therein lies the secret of this very tasty and extensive range of premium ready-to-drink goodies. Neatly and very stylishly presented – like a CD but filled with the tastiest of tipples – all you need to do is snip along the corner of the package, pour the liquid over ice and you’re good to go.
Master of the mixes is Patrick Pistolesi. And you couldn’t wish for a more knowledgeable, more creative G in charge of your drinks. With over 20 years experience under his belt, he’s the founder of Drink Kong in Rome (a bar listed at No.19 the World’s 50 Best Bars no less), both a winner and judge of numerous cocktail competitions, an international drinks consultant and a driving force in the cocktail world and he’s put every bit of that passion and expertise into the NIO range.
Trust us when we say that there’s pretty much everything for every drinker’s palate: want something floral and downright delicious? Try the Gin Proved Premixed Cocktail (Tanqueray Gin, rose petals, almonds and orange curaçao). Fancy channelling your inner Carrie Bradshaw? Try the Cosmopolitan (Ketel One Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime). There are classics (Negroni, Old Fashioned, Sidecar, Daiquiri, Boulevardier and the like), twists on classics (Garden of Russia – a twist on a Vodka Sour, Ghost of Mary Tudor – a twist on a Bloody Mary), and for seasonal riffs on some of the most popular drinks (there’s a Christmas Cocktail Box with your name written all over it). The one thing missing for us is a Classic Dry Martini – once they’ve nailed that, we’ll be laughing.
All of the cocktails they do have are beautifully balanced (we know, we’ve tried most of them) and hand mixed in Italy. Not only that, they’re made with premium spirits, contain no preservatives, additives or artificial flavourings and are packaged up ready to deliver to your door. And the good news is, there are myriad gifting options in the collection as well.
Which, as we said before, is the reason our Santa selection is coming from NIO cocktails. Want to know why? Here are just a few of the bright ideas on our list…
For the person who has everything:
NIO Build A Cocktail Box
Everyone has that person in their lives who’s an absolute nightmare to buy gifts for. They’ve got every gadget, have signed up for every subscription service, do their bit for charity and quite frankly, have the dosh to purchase anything they want. With these friends and family members in mind, we’re going for NIO’s Build A Cocktail Box. With more than 20 cocktails to choose from, we can pick out three, six or nine libations tailored to their very individual tastes.
The person we have in mind loves high-end classic cocktails, especially when they include spirits on the richer, darker side. So our choice for them takes in the Winter Sidecar (a beautiful blend of an indulgent cognac and Cocchi Red Vermouth with added hints of cinnamon and mandarin), a Manhattan (bringing together the warmth of Bulleit whiskey with the sweetness of Cocchi Vermouth to create a perfect aperitivo), and a Boulevardier (adding the warmth of Bulleit Bourbon to a sophisticated bitter-sweet classic). What’s not to love?
NIO Build A Cocktail Box: Mini box of 3, £19.50; Share box of 6, £39; Bar box of 9, £58
For the style guru:
NIO Cocktails x GQ Box
The style guru can be just as tricky to buy for as our person who has everything. In their minds, if a gift isn’t endorsed by someone they hold in high esteem, quite frankly, they’re just not interested. Which is why this gift is absolutely spot on. The NIO Cocktails x GQ Box designed in collaboration with the men’s style bible no less, so as you can imagine, it’s pretty darned snazzy.
Taking in a tour of four of the most fashionable cities: Milan, London, New York and Tokyo, it’s packaged in a beaut of a black box. Within are four cocktails created exclusively by Patrick. Milan is represented by the Milanese Bianco, a slightly softer take on the classic Negroni. London is expressed through The Dandy, a classic gin sour with a warming hint of ginger liqueur. The Big Apple is, of course, a celebration of New York in the form of a Bourbon Bulleit based cocktail recipe with green apple liqueur. And Sensei represents Tokyo in an elegantly crafted drink made with yuzu liqueur.
As well as the cocktails, the set contains four gorgeous, individual tumblers and a spherical mould for creating flawless ice cubes every time. Completing the package are four art works representing the four featured cities. In fact, we like this so much, we’re ordering one for ourselves.
NIO Cocktails x GQ Box contains 4 exclusive cocktails, 4 unique rocks glasses, 4 artworks, spherical ice mould
For loved up couples:
NIO Cocktails Experience Box
We have one lovely couple who got engaged this year and another who, after the restrictions of COVID, finally managed to tie the knot. We also have a couple who have their house back after their children have flown the coup. At last. All of them are receiving this fabulous NIO Cocktails Experience Box.
Not only does it contain two beautiful cut glass tumblers for them to toast each other in style, the package comes with every cocktail makers’ secret weapon – a first class ice tray – this one ,a superior silicon XL model designed by TheBars. Then there’s the fun bit, choosing five cocktails from the range to match to their distinct palates.
With all of the aforementioned drinks in the repertoire plus the likes of a Mai Tai, Gimlet, Negroni, Tommy’s Margarita and Old Fashioned to choose from, every possible palate is catered for. Result!
NIO Cocktails Experience Box contains your choice of 5 NIO cocktails, XL Cube Ice Tray and 2 x Cut Glass Tumblers
For the classy classicist:
The NIO Whiskey Box
Bottles of whisk(e)y are nice but this beautiful box of expertly mixed whiskey cocktails is soooo much better (and much more imaginative).
Just the ticket for long time whiskey lovers and newbies to the category alike, the NIO Whiskey Box has the classic drinker all over it. We love the selection of drinks in the box. Check this: comprising two serves each of three quintessential whiskey classic cocktails: Manhattan (Bulleit Bourbon, Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino and Angostura Bitters); Old Fashioned (Bulleit Bourbon, Toschi Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters and Angostura Orange Bitters), and Whiskey Sour (Bulleit Bourbon, organic citric acid and Toschi Simple Syrup), it takes the recipient on an exploration of moods and flavours, from sweet and spice through to gorgeously rich and rounded. Classy, classic and downright delicious.
The NIO Whiskey Box contains 2 x Manhattan, 2 x Old Fashioned, 2 x Whiskey Sour cocktails, all made with Bulleit Bourbon,