“Artisanal" is a word thrown around quite a bit these days, but in our region it truly means something. It means taking the time to create quality products from the finest ingredients, and being intimately involved in every step of the process. Whether you shop online or on foot, we hope you’ll consider supporting our region’s amazing small stores, holiday markets, distilleries and other purveyors who still take the time to make things by hand.
Artisanal Food and Drink
Nestled in the hills of northwest Connecticut, the Litchfield Distillery is the state’s newest micro-distillery. Their Batchers' series includes three hand-crafted, premium spirits: Bourbon Whiskey, Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey, and Gin, all made using regionally harvested grains. Stay tuned for new products coming soon.
Russell Maple Farm
Choose from 10 different gift boxes ($20-$40) or three different gift baskets ($30-$65) that include a selection of pancake mixes, honey, maple candy and the farm's maple syrup, which is tapped from Rhinebeck, N.Y. trees. The syrup contains no sodium or cholesterol, is produced without chemicals and contains no additives or preservatives.
RockerBox Spice Co.
A "rockerbox" is a sifting tool gold-rushers used to separate gold nuggets from dirt and the company chose this name because, like a gold nugget, quality seasonings are hard to come by. The Hyde Park, N.Y.'s spices are 100% pure -- which means they include no fillers, preservatives, flavorings or additives, unlike most seasonings you would find in the majority of grocery stores. They're made only from organic U.S.-grown garlic and onions and are available in customizable gift sets that include your choices of garlic or onion "dusts" or flakes, a "fiesta," "Italiano" or "everything bagel" mix, and rubs in "sweet corn" or "BBQ."
Tortured Orchard Sauces
This homegrown North Egremont, Mass. business has concocted seasoning sauces that can be used as marinades, dressings, bases, glazes or straight out of the jar with anything from veggies and sandwiches to fish dishes, cheese platters or even ice cream. Single jars range from $8.50-$9.25 and a Tortured Orchard Sampler is $40.
Barrington Coffee Roasters & Berkshire Mountain Distillers Coffee Bitters
These bitters ($13) are hand crafted in small batches at the Berkshire’s first legal distillery since prohibition. Another local company — Barrington Coffee Roasting Company — supplies the Sumatran coffee for the recipe. The bitters also come in a Bittersweet Boost gift box ($50) that includes two 12 oz. bags of freshly roasted coffee and two coffee ganache bars from Chocolate Springs Café. Check out Barrington Coffee's website for cocktail and mocktail recipes including a Sanni Cola Old Fashioned and a Gold Bourbon Martini.
This new service, launched in mid-May by two Berkshire residents, is your one-stop-shop for gift baskets featuring the best the area has to offer. It brings together over 15 local vendors of roasted coffee, jams, honey, maple syrup, biscotti, cookies, chocolates and teas. Prices range from $30 to $150.
Clothing and Accessories
Anni Maliki Jewelry
Berkshires residents are already hip to the amazing, nature-inspired jewelry of Anni Maliki, whose oeuvre includes fine metal earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets and cufflinks. Not that you need another reason to shop her designs, but Maliki has recently partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to donate $1 from every sale to help the nonprofit plant trees.
Formerly Griffin GB, this shop has a spiffy new location just down the street from its past incarnation, but still carries all the items you love. A well-curated selection of clothing for men, women and children is intermingled with gift books, plush blankets and pillows, ceramicware, one-of-a-kind art, a great selection of Malin + Goetz products, Six Depot coffee and even kids' skateboards.
Workshop on the Green
This Litchfield, Conn. women's clothing and home goods boutique sells a wide variety of sophisticated women’s apparel and accessories which include Arche shoes, Caswell–Massey soaps and body lotion, Christopher Blue, Nic+Zoe, Bao Bao and Pleats Please by Issey Miyake, Kensie, Geiger of Austria, Kinross Cashmere, 3 Dots, Zelda, Amy Khan Russell, along with a unique collection of hand-crafted jewelry from around the world.
This four-season herbal CSA based in Germantown, N.Y. creates its own tinctures and extracts, bitters, tonics and syrups, infused oils and salves, lip balms, herbal salts and teas that work to soothe the body both inside and out. Order single-ingredient tinctures (peppermint, elderberry, dandelion, etc.) for $17 each or compound formulas (made to help with headaches, allergies, better sleep and other ailments) for $19-$25. Gift sets are also available.
It's gift-giving times three when you buy yourself a tote bag, pencil case, clutch, wallet or makeup case from Silka's main Etsy shop, snag some organic baby accessories (bibs, burp cloths, blankets, change mats) for the new addition in your life from her shop Kribbe
, and then pop on over to Harvest Fabrics
, where you can buy modern organic textiles for your own projects.
Philmont's Asia Luna offers hand-poured soy candles that come in travel tins ($8) and include a new Yuletide holiday scent, body butters, moisturizing bar soaps ($6.25) and misting sprays for home or body ($10) in a plethora of scents, and even an all-natural insect repellent. Smell them yourself this December as the makers pop-up at markets throughout the region, including Ghent's Yuletide Fair, Pittsfield's Shindy, and Aija's Holiday Event in Norfolk. Check facebook
for a complete list.
Victoria Dinardo Millinery
After studying millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, running a shop in Soho, creating hats for designers including Donna Karan and Emanuel Ungaro, and having her work featured in Vogue, Elle and Bazaar, Victoria is now designing custom hats at her studio and showroom in Chatham, N.Y. Stop by the shop
to try on warm and fashionable winter hats or a sophisticated and sparkly headband to complete your New Year's Eve attire.
For The Home
Owners Darin Ronning and Travis Messinger started their Connecticut business in 2004 and now offer more than 100 colors of tile to choose from, helping clients create a truly personalized bathroom, backsplash, fireplace or floor. All of their products are handcrafted in the studio — from cutting and drying to glazing and firing — and that includes their gem-colored vases, lace-pressed platters in assorted sizes, and decorative tiles. Prices vary.
Alison Palmer Ceramic Animals
You may have seen mention of appearances by Steve Katz
this summer, when the Blood, Sweat & Tears founding member was touring to support his recently published biography. The rock star Connecticut resident is not the only talented one in his family; his wife, Alison Palmer, is a noted ceramic artist who creates animal-inspired giftware in her studio at the couple's South Kent home. Keep up to date with the artist's shows, sales and more at her facebook site
, and stake your claim on one of her pieces because they are going fast.
Alicia Adams Alpaca
There are two great places to find Alicia Adams Alpaca's unbelievably soft blankets, throws and clothes this season: at her brand-new flagship store in Millbrook (the town where her family's alpaca farm is located) and at Privet Lives
in New Preston until the end of the month. Formerly found only at Barneys New York and the like, you can now purchase locally the Classic Throw that has been declared a fireplace essential by InStyle
magazine and comes in a wide array of colors (70 to be exact).
Painted and Gilded Wood Bowls by Shaari Horowitz & Alistair Jones
Although these serving bowls are both functional as well as decorative, their enchanting old-world beauty may entice you to display them instead of using them for salad. In their Connecticut workshop, Horowitz and Jones hand-paint, gild and glaze these hand-hewn and turned wood bowls. Because each piece carries an original design, each makes a truly one-of-a-kind gift.
This Hudson shop offers one-of-a-kind furniture and lighting by its namesake, as well as jewelry by Gabriella Kiss (Lehrecke's wife) that is somehow both incredibly delicate and cutting edge at the same time. There's also jewelry and tabletop objects by Ted Muehling, candlesticks and hardware by ER Butler, mirrored objects by Maureen Fullam, jewelry by Lee M. Hale and felt bags by Julia Hilbrandt. The store exudes an air of calm, and my guess is because everyone who makes a purchase there runs home to admire it.
Amanda Jones, Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now
Based in the Northern Berkshires (she has a studio on the MASS MoCA campus), photographer Amanda Jones has recently published her fifth book of dog portraits. Dog Years
showcases each subject as a puppy and again as an older dog, accompanied by reflections from their human companions. Signed copies are available on Jones' website, along with stationery ($12), pendants ($40) and canvas prints (starting at $95) featuring an assortment of breeds.
Alex Kershaw, Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris
The bestselling author's latest book, Avenue of Spies
, proves that truth is stranger, and more thrilling, than fiction. The work focuses on American physician Sumner Jackson, who, during WWII, lived in France on a street surrounded by some of the most evil figures of the day. Drawn into the resistance movement, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, right under the nose of a Nazi “mad sadist," spy hunters, secret police and the Gestapo headquarters.
Gina Hyams, The Tanglewood Picnic
You know it, you love it, but you do you know the history of picnicking on the Tanglewood lawn? Full of photos from the 1940s through the present and a dozen classic recipes, The Tanglewood Picnic is a must for any lover of the historic Lenox venue.
Joseph Luzzi, In A Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love
A professor of Italian at Bard College, Luzzi is the author of five books including 2014’s My Two Italies
. His most recent is perhaps his most personal, and tells the story of how he lost his pregnant wife in a car accident and became a first-time father on the same day. NY Times
bestselling author Gary Shteyngart calls it "powerful and indispensable." Read RI's Rural We with the author.
Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
In 2009, Reichl, editor of the now defunct Gourmet
magazine, found herself — where else — in the kitchen as she struggled to process the shuttering of the magazine she had been running for the last decade. The award-winning food writer made lemonade from those lemons, and her fans were rewarded with Reichl's first cookbook in over 40 years. Get your copy this Saturday, December 5 at The Chatham Bookstore, where Reichl will be signing copies beginning at 5 p.m.
Janice Kaplan, The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life
Using herself as a guinea pig, author and part-time Kent resident Janice Kaplan spent a year attempting to live more gratefully. Her results were published in this bestselling memoir backed by research that includes simple procedures anyone can use to gain a better perspective on life. Read RI's Rural We with the author.
Rinker Buck, Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
Cornwall resident Rinker Buck's most recent book is one part history, one part memoir and one part travelogue. The New York Times
bestseller follows Buck and his brother Nick as they travel the Trail from Missouri to Oregon by covered wagon, pulled only by a team of cantankerous mules. Read RI's Rural We with the author.
Check out last year's Holiday Hit List for even more great gift ideas.