We all love novelty socks and comedy DVDs, but surely the best present of all to receive is the gift of food (or money, money is also very good).
I usually try to top up the stockings of my nearest and dearest with a few local Bristol treats (inevitably a few find their way into my cupboard, but I see it as commission for my thoughtfulness), so should you be wondering what food & drink gifts to get for friends and family, allow me to show you some of your options…
Let’s start with my favourite. Of course you can go classic with a nice bottle of red from Grape & Grind or Avery’s, or pick up a selection of fine local beers from Brewer’s Droop (who also stock home brewing equipment) or Bottles & Books (and pick up a comic while you’re there).
But if you’re wanting to pull out all the stops, here are a few extra special ideas:
- Local booze makers Espensen Spirit are doing some creative things for the festive season, not only offering vouchers for their bottles of flavoured gin & vodka, but also making gift sets using old VHS boxes (£10), as well as miniatures bottles so that you can have boozy baubles on your tree (£16 for 4 x 3cl bottles, or £18.50 for 4 x 5cl) – what could be better??
- Bristol Beer Factory have a Beer Club for serious aficionados. For £50 you get a case of 12 beers, a glass, t-shirt, 15% off bottle sales in the tap room & special discounts & events throughout the year. You can also pick up beer gift packs, T-shirts and brewery tour tickets from their online shop.
- One for the aspiring cider experts out there – The Bristol Cider Shop are now selling a Cider Tasting Kit (£39.50) which contains 10 award-winning ciders plus a miniature of Somerset Cider Brandy, a special tasting glass and a Cider Tasting Guide with background information about each of the ciders. They’re also doing mega cider hampers, gift sets (which you can hand pick if you go into the shop) and gift vouchers for the shop or their popular tasting events.
- Bag a selection of local beers or special beer gift sets from Corks (their North St & Cotham branches both do a fine range of beers, spirits & wine, while the teeny Wapping Wharf shop specialises in wine). You’ll also find special offers on wine cases, as well as special festive beers. Nice.
- Beer Necessities in Cargo 2 has also got you sorted for any beery needs – they’re stocking beer hampers and vouchers for you to slip into a card if you’re not sure which tipple to choose. Or maybe you could sign them up for beer deliveries via their service on Good Sixty?
- Bath Ales has done all it can to ensure you spend as much of December toasted as possible with its beer advent calendar in partnership with parent brewery St Austell. They’re also releasing two new festive beers, including a cherry stout! Pick ’em up from their website, or I imagine most of the beer shops I’ve mentioned above will stock them too.
- Bristol-based More Wine supplies organic wines in a few different formats: bag-in-box, wine pouch and even cans! You can get a 3 can gift pack of Quello (semi-sparkling white wine) for £9.50, or a 24 pack(!) for £50 if you’re feeling brave. They do a variety of gift packs on their website so have a browse!
- Finally, Moor Beer are selling a 12 can gift pack from their brewery in St Phillips. Select a dozen cans to go in their neat display box, or 8 cans and a branded pint glass. The cost of the 12 pack depends on which beers you select, with individual cans costing £2.20-£3.20. These guys are also big on branding, so you can also buy a Moor Beer hoodie or T-shirt from their online shop if that tickles your fancy.
Not content with getting your loved ones wasted during the holidays? Maybe fatten them up too.
Hampers & gift sets
- Source Food Hall in St Nick’s offer a bespoke hamper service (just let them know in person or over the phone what you want in it and they’ll also gift wrap it), or you can order a Bristol Gift Hamper from them online, which includes BS1 Honey (made on the roof of their building!), Extract Coffee, Bristol Tea, Gingerbeard’s preserve, Source’s own jam & chutney, and 2 cans of Moor beers). They also offer vouchers for the shop and their courses (which include charcuterie, basic butchery and fish filleting).
- Looking for treats more of the Mediterranean persuasion? El Colmado on Gloucester Road (they also have an online shop) and Viandas on Park Row in the centre both stock a good variety of Iberian goodies for hampers, and Sotiris Bakery on Park Row does a great selection of Greek biccies, pastries and sweeties that would brighten up any stocking.
- The award-winning Divino Deli at the top of Whiteladies Rd does a fine range of hampers, gift sets and homewares for the gourmands among your gift receivers.
- Pick up a selection of fine local cheeses, gift sets & chutneys from The Bristol Cheesemonger, or some tasty cheese bundles from their online shop. You can also purchase gift vouchers for any cheese lovers. Hurrah!
- Avery’s is doing a range of wine-based hampers which also include chocolates, biscuits and other festive treats.
- Papadeli in Clifton also allows you to pick up treats in store for hampers and gift sets, otherwise you can order their pre-made hampers online, including a luxury Italian selection, or gourmet Spanish treats.
Made in Bristol, available to munch anywhere you choose…
- Choose from a selection of spice kits from The Spicery, whether it’s for Curry Legends or Meat Free Magic, these are good fun to make and come nicely boxed up too.
- Pick up some handmade truffles or advent calendars from Zara’s Chocolate in Southville. You can hand pick your selection for beautifully-wrapped gift boxes, or pick up some super tasty chocolate bars and Christmas treats.
- You can also find a range of continental luxury chocolates and confectionery at Oliver’s Ice Cream in Cargo 2, including their own handmade chocolates and other Christmassy items which are not available elsewhere in Bristol.
- Make sure you treat your mates (or yourself, you deserve it) to some Gingerbeard Preserves (available online, at markets, The Pickled Brisket and at various shops across Bristol) – for Christmas they’re doing 3 for £10 on selected products and have stocking fillers such as their Craft Christmas Gift Box (£8.50 – Fig & Sour cherry Christmas Chutney and Beer Bacon & Chilli Jam, yummm).
- A range of chutneys, sauces and preserves from Bishopston Supper Club can be found at Grape & Grind, Joe’s Bakery and The Bristol Cheesemonger (their rhubarb ketchup is something special).
- If you want to do a good deed with oyour Christmas shopping, purchase a few jars from Bristol Jam Plan, who use donated surplus fruit & veg to make yummy preserves which they then give to local charities and shelters. All proceeds from the stuff they sell goes to local charities too – one for the warm & fuzzy feels! Pick them up from Hart’s Bakery, Pear Cafe, The Kitchen or Windmill Hill City Farm Cafe.
Not content with feeding people up? How about giving your buddy a voucher for a cookery lesson, booze tasting or food tour? Or do what I did and book an event you want to go to anyway, so you get to rope in a plus one!
Tastings & workshops
- Learn how to make truffles or temper chocolate in workshops at Zara’s Chocolate.
- Buy vouchers for gin distilling session & gin experiences at Psychopomp micro distillery. They’re also releasing a limited edition winter gin that you’ll be able to sample.
- Take a Home Barista Course at Extract Coffee (or just bags of their delicious coffee, both options sound good to me!)
- Tastings events at Weber & Tring’s – vouchers are available to spend in the shop or to book onto one of their events.
- Know a budding wine connoisseur? Get them a voucher for wine tasting at Avery’s, Clifton Wine School or Bristol Wine School.
- For beer buffs, a brewing course at the Bristol Brewery School is probably the ultimate present – they also run tasting courses for those wanting to sample some tasty beverages.
- Little Kitchen offer vouchers for their cookery school – workshops start at £18, and include everything from kids’ classes, pasta making and cake decorating to street food. They also have aprons, tea towels, tote bags and the Bristol Cook Book on sale.
- Papadeli offers vouchers for their cookery classes for their cookery classes, which cover everything from Middle Eastern cooking to how to make the perfect pudding.
- I’m particularly excited that Squeezed in Wapping Wharf are doing Burger Workshops – a great way to spend an evening!
- Vouchers are also available for masterclasses & dinners at Square Food Foundation, where you can try your hand at making bread, vegan dishes, Mexican street food and more.
- Bristol Food Tour do vouchers for their tours (£40 each) – the recipient can pick from food rambles around Stokes Croft or South Bristol, plus vegan tours of the city.
- EatWalkTalk offer tours with a mix of food & local history. Get £10 off when you spend £80 (tours are usually £40, so buying 2 means they work out at £35 each)
- Buy a gift voucher for a Bristol Hoppers beer tour – the vouchers are £40 and entitle two people to places on a tour of their choosing over the next 12 months.
Many of the restaurants in Wapping Wharf are offering meal vouchers for Christmas – including Root, Cargo Cantina, Bertha’s (pefect for nabbing tickets to their January blues-buster Giro event) and Box-E (who have a selection of vouchers including for their Kitchen Table dinners, or a bottle of Methode Traditionnelle Brut sparkling wine).
It’s always worth asking at your favourite restaurants (or places you know someone wants to visit) to see if they do vouchers, otherwise an easy way to shout someone a free meal could be to buy them some Wriggle credit?
I’ve only listed the markets which will include a food/drink element, for a full list of Christmas markets and craft fairs happening over the next few weeks you can see this markets mega list from Visit Bristol.
- Every weekend from 25 Nov: Harbourside Christmas Market
- 2nd Dec – Festive Market at The Folk House
- 2nd Dec – Wapping Wharf Festive Party
- 2nd, 9th, 16th – Made in Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall
- 2 Dec – Greenbank Market, Easton
- 2 Dec – Royal York Crescent Christmas Fayre
- 2 Dec – Gloucester Road Cosy Christmas Market
- 3 Dec – Christmas Market at Arnos Vale Cemetery
- 3 Dec – BS5 Market
- 6 Dec – Henleaze Christmas Festival
- 7 Dec – Bishopston Christmas Market
- 8 Dec – St Werburghs Christmas Market
- 9th Dec – Collaborative Christmas Market at Good Chemistry’s brewery
Other handy Christmas-related posts:
My December food & drink guide will be out in a fortnight, until then you can busy yourself with the November guide, or get ready for my 2017 Review of the Year by checking out my highlight lists from 2016 and 2015 (or even way back in 2014 if you’re a fan of nostalgia) – I’ll be asking you lot for your favourites on Twitter and Facebook in the coming weeks, so start pondering now!
In the mean time, here are some other food & drink guides to keep you occupied…
- Bristol’s Best Date Locations
- Bristol’s Cosiest Pubs
- Where to Treat Yourself in Bristol
- Bristol’s Best Burgers
- 11 Bristol Institutions