As the holidays approach, we all start sorting out what to cook and serve (and bring to our neighbors when they invite us over for a holiday tipple). Here are some of my favorite ingredients for tweaking classic, and innovative, recipes. I have also included some choice wines and cocktails to enjoy with the meal or while cooking.

The Vinegar

Great balsamic vinegar isirreplaceable. It can be used on salads, as well as vanilla ice cream. It is even great when drizzled on melons. It even adds some zest to blue cheese. Carandini is a classic one.

The Spice

Yemen is home to many great dishes. Sadly we see few of them in the U.S. So finding a little herb-based, hot sauce is so exciting. Is can be used on meat marinades or swirled over hummus.Zhug is really delicious.

The Wine

Bordeaux with a little age on it goes with anything.SaratogaWine ships a nice selection to customers in the States. Some of the labels include Château Lafon-Rochet, Château Pédesclaux and Château de Ferrand. The company also has Italian gems like Orma and Sette.

The Negroni

This classic Italian tipple is one of my favorites. Best had before dinner and limited yourself to at maximum two! This version, the white Negroni  by Via Carota, the swank NYC restaurant is made without Campari, hence its pale color.

The Caviar

Think blinis and bliss. Nothing speaks holiday like a little caviar dripped over whatever you are indulging in. Marky’s Caviar hits the mark. I particularly like it over eggs in the morning.