Last year, beer, wine, and liquor sales peaked in December, at $6.4 billion for the month, according to data from Statista. It's easy to see why.
Holiday parties consume many of the evenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and each invite can mean you need to find another host or hostess gift. All of this can add up during a season that is already quite costly: Americans are predicted to spend more than $1,000 each on shopping and decorations during November and December.
Here are six top picks from bartenders and sommeliers, who were asked to recommend some spirits and wines that are under $30 each and make great gifts.
Cost: $26.99 at Wine.com
"Champagne-like quality for under $30 is hard to deliver, but I think Jansz checks all the boxes.These toasty Tasmanian bubbles pack the one-two punch of value and cool. It is top quality [sparkling] wine from a unique place, and it is inexpensive. "
— Brandon Kerne, sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston
Cost: $22.99 at Total Wine & More
"It's been a good year for rye whiskey. Old Forester Rye Whiskey is a great new release from the Brown-Forman Distillery, and unarguably the best bottle for the dollar. Lots of fun and truly unique coconut and tropical notes sneak up at the end, and at 100 proof, this rye is great for the cocktail enthusiast as it stands up well in cocktails. It is also really great just as is, maybe with a little bit of rocks."
— Westin Galleymore, spirits director at Underbelly Hospitality in Houston
Cost: $19.99 at All Star Wine & Spirits
"Sometimes, I like to surprise people by giving them something that they don't know they need. And people who don't know they need a bottle of amari in their home bar need something approachable and delicious.
"I like to give the Pasubio, which is bitter with flavors of blueberry and pine. If it's your first bottle to sit at home and sip in front of a fire during the holidays, it's a great one. And if you're an experienced amari drinker, you're glad to get another bottle of something bitter."
— Nick Talarico, director of operations/beverage director at Enjoy AM Restaurant Group in Memphis
Cost: $20.99 at Wine.com
"A really beautiful expression of Sangiovese from a lesser known part of Tuscany. Readily available at grocery shops, wine shops, everywhere — and delicious."
— David Keck, master sommelier at Goodnight Hospitality in Houston
Video by Jason Armesto and Sofia Pitt
Cost: $18.99 at Warehouse Wines & Spirits
"This is one of my favorite things I drank this summer and am planning to continue with for the rest of the year. Coming from a very well-known sherry house, they blend two beautiful grapes that lean a bit sweet but then balance it with a blend of herbs: chamomile, gentian, wormwood, and marjoram.
"I love this on its own on the rocks with a twist of lemon, paired in a martini with your favorite gin, or just grab your favorite flavored seltzer and it sings!"
— Eryn Reece, head bartender at Banzarbar in New York City
Cost: $29.99 at Westchester Wine Warehouse
"Los Vecinos is an excellent fairly priced mezcal." Add grapefruit soda to make a simple cocktail: "A tiny squeeze of lime and a light sprinkle of sea salt brings out all the lovely flavor and is a bright, tart paloma."
— Cari Hah, bar manager at Big Bar in Los Angeles
More from Grow: