In the spirit of the season, here’s a gift guide to make your home more…spirited. If you’re looking to start your home bar, or want to level up from Beginner to Intermediate, I’ve got some picks for you.
1. The Basics – Shaker (~$15-20), strainer ($7), spoon (~$5), and measuring cup ($4-6). Can’t make drinks without the tools. I prefer the Boston Shaker, but there are plenty different types out there. Same goes with the spoon. Go with what you like. Oxo makes a great strainer. The spring is tight on glasses, and they’ve applied their trademark ergonomic touches. The measuring cup comes in plastic an stainless steel. The latter actually has a 3/4oz mark, which is very useful. Either one is way better than jiggers.
2. Mr. Boston – this is a great resource for someone looking to build up there home bar bookshelf. Tons of recipes, from classic to modern, as well as some tips about technique. Plus they have a picture indicating the type of glass each drink is served in, which is a great way to scan the pages when you’re in the mood for an up drink. Because of some rights holders issues, it can be tricky to find, but still worth it. (~$40) Also, you can’t go wrong with one of Dale DeGroff’s books as your first reference either (The Craft of the Cocktail $21 and Everyday Cocktails $24)
3. Tovolo ice mold – The big guy will give you six large 2 inch cubes. This way your drink stays cold and doesn’t get diluted. I’d also recommend the 15 cube version which gives you smaller cubes. Great for long drinks or stockpiling cubes for mixing if you don’t have an ice maker. ($6 for the oversized, $10 for two of the 15-cube trays)
4. Maps Rocks Glass ($14) – I love maps, and I love glassware, so naturally I am somewhat obsessed with these things. You’re gonna need something to put those cocktails in, so why not class it up with a rocks glass featuring a map of the city of your choice. You’ll also need something for those up drinks, so grab some coupes ($50 for set of 4) too . Don’t bother with the standard martini glass, those things are forged by lucifer himself. PROTIP: Hit up your local thrift store for glassware. You can find some pretty cool vintage stuff for dirt cheap (we’re talking a dollar a glass).
5. Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup ($16) – Cocktails don’t get much easier than the Gin and Tonic. Take yours to the next level with this tonic syrup from Jack Rudy. Add an ounce or so to 3-4 oz of club soda for a tonic water that may just blow your mind. While you’re at it, pick up a bottle of your favorite local gin, and you’ve got a nice little gift set.
6. Cocktail Decor – Want to display your love of booze loud and proud, but also in a way that is kind of refined and artistic? Popchart Labs has you covered, with posters featuring detailed infographics for various drinking related themes, such as the Whiskey Matrix ($9 for a 16″ x 12″).
7. Bitters – The salt of the cocktail world. Lots of companies offer sampler packs, like this one from Scrappy’s (chocolate, grapefruit, lavendar, cardamom – $24). A great way to try out a few flavors at once. Or pick up whatever bottle looks interesting, just make sure you already have Angostura in the house before you get too crazy.
8. Star Wars Tiki Mugs ($15 per mug) – You know what I love more than maps? Star Wars. So when I saw these, I had to grab Chewie and Vader. They are perfect for the Star Wars and/or Tiki lover in your life.
9. Advanced Reading – If you already have some basic cocktail books and want take things to step up your game, these three books are a great place to turn. Death & Co. (yes, that one) released this book and has amazing recipes, along with tips on creating drinks, naming drinks, and general techniques ($26). Kara Newman keeps things simple with Shake Stir Sip , a book comprised entirely of equal parts cocktails . Which means less math while you drink – always a plus ($17). Finally, there is Regarding Cocktails, the only book from the legendary Sasha Petraske. He is pretty high up on the classic cocktail family tree as he started Milk and Honey, a forerunner to the whole classic cocktail movement ($20).
So there you go, there should be something in here for the cocktail lover in your life, whether they are just graduating from G&T’s or beginning to create their own recipes. One last thought, you can always get them the necessary bottles to make their favorite drinks at home. A bottle of Bourbon and sweet vermouth for your Manhattan loving friend, for instance. Or the simplest gift of all, a bottle of booze. Never a bad call. Happy Holidays!