‘Tis the season, so I put together some gift ideas for the cocktail lover in your life (or for your own list if you want to give friends and family some help). Even better, they’re all under $50, so you can spread the love around.
1. Bar Tool Roll – I ended up with one of these as a Yankee swap a few years ago, and I’m hooked. It guarantees I’ve got everything I need to whip up some tasty drinks when I’m traveling. Looks pretty sharp too when you get to your destination and unroll it. There are plenty out there, find one that you like best. ~$30
2. Death Star Ice Sphere – Everybody loves ice spheres these days. But you know what’s even cooler… one that’s shaped like the Death Star. Now you can menacingly sip your whiskey with the Imperial March playing in the background. ~$15 for 2
3. Orgeat – It’s pretty hard to do anything Tiki without this almond based syrup. You can sometimes find some at liquor stores or supermarkets, but they are often nothing more than flavored high fructose corn syrup. Instead seek out a smaller producer, like this one from El Guapo Bitters. It has some wonderful floral notes to accompany all the nutty goodness. (check out my Creative Differences for a non-tiki application) ~$15 (get 10% through by using discount code MR10MUDDLE at Muddle and Stir)
4. Amaro – This family of bitter liqueurs is so hot right now. Whether it’s settling your stomach after a big meal or making yet another spin on the classic negroni, these are a great addition to any homebar. Averna and Ramazzotti are two solid entry level choices, with a midrange bitterness that won’t rip your tongue out. Even better, they can be had for under $25. For something a bit more advanced, try Bigallet China China from France. It’s got more cirtusy orange notes with a cinammon bite. ~$25 and up, depending on the bottle.
5. Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Rums, Cocktails, and the Culture of Tiki – Now that you’ve got some orgeat, it’s time to level up your tiki knowledge. This book from the San Fran bar of the same name has an astonishing amount of information. One of the coolest parts is how they break down all the different rums into high level categories, which help you build the perfect tiki drink. Plus their tips on kitschy Polynesian design will help turn your home bar into an island paradise. ~$20
6. Citrus juicer – We all love fresh citrus, but squeezing it can be a pain. Throw one of these in a kitchen drawer and your forearms will thank you. ~$20
7. Cocktail Pins – Proudly sport your favorite drink, preferably while drinking it (a la @young_overholt). These classy pins from Love and Victory cover a range of classics from daquiris, to mules, to manhattans. ~$12
8. Element Shrub Sampler- Shrubs (aka drinking vinegars) are totally having their moment. They add a whole new dimension to cocktails, and can even be combined with club soda for a wonderful non-alcoholic option. This sampler from Element Shrub is a great introduction (cranberry hibiscus, grapefruit vanilla, lemon mint, honeydew jalapeno, blueberry rosemary). ~$25
You can see my previous years’ recommendations here. Happy Holidays everyone!