West Valley City • Why give a bottle of spiced rum for Christmas when, for the same price, you could give a spectacular two-for-one package that includes rum AND a tray that makes sexy pirate ice cubes?
And wouldn’t someone who takes thousands of photos on their cellphone be thrilled to receive a give pack that includes a bottle of Jägermeister and a miniature smartphone camera lens?
The holiday gift sets found at Utah’s state-owned liquor stores are filled with all sorts of bonus items, from shot glasses and coffee mugs to coasters, flasks and other unique drinking doodads.
There’s nothing new about these “value added packages.” Nationally, liquor producers like to offer the sets during the holidays to encourage consumers to buy a product they may not have tried, or to give loyal customers a little something extra for the holidays.
In Utah, the twofers are generally available for the same price as a regular stand-alone bottle, making them especially popular with consumers who often grumble the rest of the year about the state’s 88 percent mark-up on liquor.
Store managers say the gift packs “are flying off the shelves,” said Terry Wood, the spokesman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Wood said large liquor suppliers determine the number of gift packs available to Utah based on sales. And with wine, beer and spirit purchases in the state increasing annually, “our allocation is up this year,” he said. “We purchased whatever is available to us.”
There are more than five dozen gift packs this year. In some instances, the state only received a few cases of each gift item; in other cases — like the $23.99 Jägermeister/cellphone camera pack — they received thousands. Almost all the kits involve spirits and liquor, not wine or beer.
On Thursday, there was a generous selection of gift packs at the West Valley liquor store at 3381 S. Redwood Road. The boxes don’t fit on the standard DABC liquor shelves, so consumers need to look high on the top shelves or in special end-of-aisle displays.
Amanda Sagez, who works near the West Valley store, was drawn to the gift sets for the competitive price. Sagez said she had purchased a box set on a previous visit that included a bottle of the rum and two retro-looking oil can glasses. “Initially, I bought it as a gift,” she said, “but it’s too cute so I’m keeping it for myself.”
During a return visit on Thursday, she bought the rum pack with ice molds.
While most gift sets aren’t that unusual, there are a few unique offerings for the hard-to-buy person your list.
For those who always forget the mixers, there’s a kit that contains the basics for a “Dark ’n Stormy” cocktail, including rum and two cans of ginger beer. It costs $17.95.
For that relative who prefers extra fuel in his cup of coffee, there’s the Kahlua kit with a kitschy travel mug that reads: “There Is a Chance This Is Not Just Coffee.” It sells for $19.99.
For the sophisticate, Courvosier is selling its cognac in a royal purple and gold box with an elegant glass decanter for $41.99.
The RumChata gift set is amusing, as it contains a bottle of Mexican horchata liqueur and two “divided” shot glasses that the owner can use to make her own “shot-a-chata.”
Finally, while it’s not a gift set, someone will surely be amused by the red-and-white bottle of Smirnoff Peppermint Twist with a “scratch-n-sniff” label that smells like a candy cane. It sells for $15.99.
If you miss out on one of these gift kits during the holidays, don’t despair. Wood said the DABC may bring in more for the Valentine’s and Father’s Day holidays in 2018.