If you’re looking for an only-in-New York gift, you can always go with one of those “I love NY” t-shirts. But just in case you’re not sure about the size, or if you got that for everyone on your list last year, read on for other quintessential holiday gifts. By Jessica Allen.
More: NYC’s 9 Best Cupcakes
Pre-Hurricane Sandy, the husband-and-wife team behind Robicelli’s Cupcakes were beloved for their quirky humor and awesome baked goods, sold online (and sometimes at various spots around town). Post-Hurricane Sandy, Matt and Allison Robicelli have become local heroes, widely admired for their commitment to making sure communities got feed in the storm’s terrible (and ongoing) aftermath. Show your appreciation by stocking up on their brownies, hot cocoa, whoopie pies, and cupcakes, including special flavors for the holidays like the Blatt (“the cupcake that imagines what would happen if a cheesecake had a baby with a jelly donut,” according to their Facebook page).
When the law changed and distilleries became legal in New York State for the first time since Prohibition, Kings County Distillery (opened in 2010) instantly became the city’s oldest. From a 19th-century warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, this outfit produces prize-winning bourbon, flavored whiskey, and moonshine (corn whiskey). Each comes in an old-school, minimalist bottle. Take a tour on Saturdays ($8, from 2:30 to 5:30 pm, with free tastings!) or purchase a flask at Astor Wine & Spirits, The Greene Grape, or another local liquor store.
metal & thread’s Red Hook metalwork studio was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Help these two artisans, husband-and-wife Derek Dominy and Denise Carbonell, rebuild their lives by buying their stuff, including copper necklaces, stainless steel cuffs, and fine metal mesh scarves, or by shopping in their store, which sells jewelry, textiles, and housewares by area craftspeople. The goods they make and sell demonstrate a commitment to recycling, reusing, and refurbishing where possible, giving old objects new purpose and vigor. Shopping here is good for the economy and good for the environment.
Five years ago, Vivi Dritsas opened her 200-square-foot shop in Astoria, Queens, taking her soapmaking hobby to the masses. At the true-to-its-name Little Soap Shop, she hand-crafts and hand-sells all manner of products that not only clean, hydrate, and freshen, but also smell really nice. Plus, you can pronounce all the ingredients, which is a welcome change from many of the products sold in drugstores. Your guy might like the cedar and saffron aftershave, while your mom will love the soy candles and your flakiest friend will fall for the vanilla lavender patchouli Dead Sea salt scrub.
Perhaps cupcakes and whiskey, metal jewelry and handmade soaps just aren’t your thing(s). Check out the Made in NYC site. You’ll find hundreds of small businesses who sell their wares in storefronts or online. You can shop for clutches, cloches, chocolate bars, granola, satchels, sweaters, shirts, shorts, bathing suits, scrubs, and so much more. Even if you don’t buy anything (but, ahem, you should), you’ll marvel at the tremendous creativity and talent of those who live and work in the five boroughs.