While it is a tight year for people across the world, if you decide to spoil anyone special in your life, here are some local gifts you can share with your loved ones while also helping Lebanese artists, small businesses, and artisans. By no means is this an exhaustive list but it is loosely geared toward wine-enthusiasts. If you still haven’t found something to wrap up in an old issue of Annahar newspaper, let me know and I’ll try to suggest some other options.
1. Domaine des Tourelles Arak Reserve Gift Box: This box is a great pairing with Episode 24. It includes a bottle of Arak Brun Reserve, L’atelier du Miel Anise Honey, recycled glass decanter, and a pouch of aniseed from Deir el Ahmar. Call 71-211140 (normal call or WhatsApp) to place your order.
2. Chateau St Thomas Nouveau bottles: The Touma family have launched three special labels designed by Lina Ezzedine in honor of Beirut and the tough year that the country has been pushing through.
3. Shabshoub Scented Dolls from L’artisan du Liban: I love these little guys. They come in various sizes with different functions (door stoppers, magnets, key hangers, and even a wine stopper). L’artisan du Liban has a vast selection of handcrafted items made by artisans from across the country.
4. Ghyda Helou’s Lebanese Lira Retro Postcard Series: Ghyda is a collage artist with a beautiful set of postcards that fuse the old Lebanese lira with textures and landmarks. The series feels very timely given the depreciation of the national currency.
5. Timi Hayek’s Baalbeck Ruins Giclee Print: Timi’s a super-talented fashion designer and illustrator with beautiful prints of Lebanese architectural treasures. Worldwide shipping available.
6. Milk of Lions by Joseph El-Asmar: Guest from Episode 23, this book is your introduction to alcohol and arak – but mostly arak – in the Middle East. Throw in a bottle of your favorite arak baladi for good measure.
7. GGRIL Houseware Items: Ziad Abi Chaker, environmental engineer behind many recycling initiatives across Lebanon, helped move over 100 tons of shattered glass to artisans in Tripoli – the same glass that flooded the streets after the August 4th explosion. Those tons have been transformed into GGRIL’s new collection.
8. Staycation at Palmyra Hotel, Baalbeck: The historic hotel facing the magnanimous ruins of the city of the sun is the perfect place for a getaway this winter. All you need for this escape is a book or a chessboard. And wine, of course. Listen to Episode 12 while you have your coffee on the roof.
9. Leila Charafeddine Pins: Leila is a Lebanese illustrator with a collection of adorable enamel pins centered around Lebanese heritage and nostalgic cultural elements. Her work is also available on Etsy and RedBubble.
10.) B for Bacchus e-Shop: Speaking of Red Bubble, the B for Bacchus shop has some fun, wine items for your friends too. They’re produced and shipped on order from manufacturers across the world so make sure to order soon so they get to you on time! A small profit comes back to yours truly with each purchase.
Black & White photo is taken by Waddah Faris at the Palmyra Hotel in 1973.