If you’re used to hitting the store in person on the morning after Thanksgiving, Black Friday will feel different in 2020. However, if you’re a fan of online shopping and funky gadgets and gifts, have we got a list for you!
Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been running more than ever this year, as gym access has been affected. So I got a pair of these high-tech merino and baby alpaca wool socks just in time to keep me going. I like the snug, but not too tight fit, but the orthopedic surgeon who created them also used a combination on silver and copper nanoparticles that supposedly create a more than 10 mV microcurrent to help boost circulation and motor function. Running with these definitely feels better than when wearing normal socks but, of course, I don’t have a lab, so I’m relying strictly on experience. – Bobby Tanzilo
Making sorbet at home is fun, but having tried a few machines over the years, it’s a bit of an involved process. That’s why I like this compact – and easy-to-clean – machine. This appliance couldn’t be more simple to use. You basically drop some frozen fruit and any other other ingredients you’ll use down the top-loading chute, turn it on and press down. Out comes ribbons of sorbet. The consistency is a little goopy, but if you stir it up and throw your bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes, you get a legit, homemade treat. Clean up involves pulling off a few parts and washing in the sink, then you’re ready for your next dessert. – Andy Tarnoff
I am very, very particular when it comes to my iPhone cases. While I’d prefer to use nothing at all, I’ve cracked enough phones to know that something minimal and stylish is a much better idea. And, as a guy who keeps his phone and wallet in his front pocket, my jeans were a little too cramped. Enter the the Ekster magnetic case and cardholder solution. Made with premium black ECCO leather, the case is a relatively minimalistic option. But paired with its magnetic cardholder, it’s a next-level fix. Very strong magnets and a nubby back allow the wallet to snap securely into place exactly where it’s supposed to go. And it’s really secure; it’s never fallen off once. Once attached, I can comfortably hold and use my iPhone all day. At night, I just pull the wallet attachment off, and it’s a regular case. The cardholder fits about four credit cards, but if you need something with more room, Ektser also offers a modular folio version, which snaps on the same way. Apple is also selling its new MagSafe accessories, but honestly, the Ekster solution is as good as it gets. –Andy Tarnoff
This blended whiskey mixes more than the juice of 30 different Scottish whiskies. In fact, it’s the result of a collaboration between Spanish sherry bodega Gonzalez Byass and Speyside whiskey’s Whyte & MacKay, who have worked together for 105 years. But for this one, blended by Master Distiller Richard Paterson and Master Blender Antonio Flores, the blended whisky was aged in ex-Oloroso casks in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. The whisky, between 5 and 8 years old is 40 percent malt and aged in Invergordon for three years. It then crosses the sea (like Jefferson’s Ocean!) to Spain where it spends another year in 600-liter butts that were used in a solera system to age Pedro Jimenez for about a decade. The result is a sweet, honey-forward whiskey with strong flavors of raisins and dried fruits and subtler hints of vanilla. It’s distinctive and unique, perfect for an aperitivo. – Bobby Tanzilo
I like hot sauce. Not the kind that melts your face off, but the ones with interesting flavors to add zest to any meal. Ricante recently launched a new line of five hot sauces, all gluten-free and non-GMO. Simple, but non-traditional ingredients like apples, mangos, carrots and habaneros make these flavor profiles unique; my personal favorite is the Tropical Tamarindo Caribbean Jerk Everything Sauce, but each is very good. I’m also impressed that this Costa Rican business is committed to reducing waste through minimal packaging and plastic recycling. Available at Whole Foods and Amazon. – Andy Tarnoff
As a pet owner, it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of vacuuming. Years ago, I owned an early Roomba model, but I spent more time unclogging it than achieving meaningful results. Apparently, robot vacuums have evolved a lot since then. This fall, I grabbed the Coredy R750 and I haven’t looked back. At about $300 – but watch for discounts, it’s a middle-of-the-road robot vacuum. I like it for a few reasons. First, it’s not easily clogged by dog and cat hair. If you use it regularly, at least several times a week, it will keep your hardwood floors very clean. Through the app, you can schedule cleaning times, control suction levels and manually drive it around (which terrifies my dog and annoys my cat). Also, unlike other robots at this price point, it can mop, too. However, don’t get too excited about that feature: the mop attachment doesn’t accommodate soap, so basically it just smears water around your floor for a few hours; but it’s better than nothing. Despite its claims, it’s only minimally compatible with Alexa, and re-pairing the robot via Bluetooth isn’t the easiest task in the world. Plus, it doesn’t do extremely well on rugs, and really must be cleaned after each use. And finally, it doesn’t offer onboard mapping, so you’re basically getting a vacuum that zig zags around your house until it sends itself back to its base. But again, if you use the R750 frequently, you’ll be very pleased – and at about half the cost of a comparable Roomba model. – Andy Tarnoff