Union Market: A one-stop shop for holiday gifts

November 29, 2013
The interior of Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, a shop in Union Market that we visited for a Weekend section story about getting all your holiday shopping done in one take. (Lavanya Ramanathan /The Washington Post)
The interior of Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, a shop in Union Market. (Lavanya Ramanathan /The Washington Post)

For many of us, an off-brand flat-screen or discount Dyson is not worth the unholy trip to a big box store on Black Friday.

What if you could avoid the migraine-inducing crowds, take oysters-and-champagne snack breaks and, just for once, enjoy the act of picking out the perfect presents for your friends and loved ones?

We stalked the stalls at Union Market, Northeast's gourmet destination, to see whether we could snag something for everyone on our list. To our surprise, we found more than foodstuff lurking on the shelves. This weekend, you'll also be able to pick from high-end clothes and accessories at the market's inaugural Thread shopping event.

Below, find a handful of gifts you can pick up for each of the recipients on your list. When you've wrapped up your shopping marathon, park yourself at Red Apron Butchery's bar for a pint and a porkstrami sandwich. You will have earned it.

For the boss: Neglecting to make a gesture of thanks to your host is always poor form, but never more so than when the holiday party you're attending is being thrown by your boss. Earn points with a trio of bold winter wines ($49.99), packed in a handy carrier and ready to go at Cordial. Owner Eric Rohleder handpicked three reds, including an Argentine malbec and a South African syrah, to complement rich holiday fare. Or grab his top whites, impressive choices hailing from Austrian, Italian and New Zealand vineyards.

For your jewish bff: The grown-up version of sweet, foil-wrapped gelt? A box of chocolates from Co Co. Sala's Union Market stall, where flavors such as a creamy mango lassi, heavenly pistachio kulfi, curry coconut and Earl Grey tea serve as ideal tokens for a discerning sweet tooth this Hanukkah. Pick up five chocolates ($13.50), eight ($20) or 16 pieces ($40), and your confections will come ready to gift in a lovely embossed red box.

For the budding mixologist: Impeccably stocked Salt & Sundry, the boutique that anchors Union Market, reserves several shelves for cocktail aficionados to jazz up their concoctions with hard-to-find tiki bitters and an exotic habanero shrub from small-batch producer Bittermen's ($22); heady rose or saffron-infused simple syrups from Royal Rose ($12); and make-at-home tonic from Tomr's Tonic ($11). But first things first: Get your budding bartender started with a gorgeous hardcover copy of "The PDT Cocktail Book" ($24.95), a bar staple teeming with classic techniques and recipes.

For mom: You might prefer to battle aging with all things chemical, clinical and, when necessary, surgical. But Mom was a flower child who still appreciates a natural remedy when she can find one. Stop at Mama Organic to build a gift basket with exfoliating "facial grains" ($12), a dark-spot fighting bentonite clay mask ($12) and a rose water toner or two. While the store-bought stuff can degrade over time, she can mix these powders with her favorite elixirs or creams at each use, ensuring she'll make it to the bottom of the jar.

For the man in your life: The three-day fashion shop-a-thon Thread, in Union Market's warehouse space Dock 5 this weekend, brings the richest sartorial pickings we've seen for men at a single District market. Set aside your own need for shiny things (for a moment) and stock up on luxe leather bags and slick denim button-down shirts from New York's Ernest Alexander; spiffy, stylishly slim shirts and cheeky pocket squares from Georgetown's own Hugh & Crye; and earthy, hard-to-find DS & Durga colognes from Washington menswear retailer Mutiny. If you go: Friday 1 to 8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a professional eater/drinker/thinker for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. University of Texas. Northwestern University. Rap fan.
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