Holiday Gift Guide for Cocktail Lovers
Ladies and gents, it’s that time of year again. A time for gift giving, carol singing, holiday partying, eggnog drinking (spiked, of course), Elf re-watching, and Facebook debating about whether The Holiday or Love Actually is the best holiday movie (it’s The Holiday). And, most importantly, it's that time again for everyone’s favorite holiday reading material: Gift guides! Therefore it’s time for my annual (really just the 2nd Annual) holiday gift guide for drink lovers, except this year it's exclusively a holiday gift guide for cocktail lovers. Last year’s holiday gift guide was more broadly about drinks, covering beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails. However, this year, since I’m in the midst of my big cocktail project, I’ve narrowed it down to be a my Christmas wish list holiday gift guide for cocktail lovers.
For my latest gift guide, there was really just one requirement beyond the product having to be cocktail-related. And that requirement is that it had to be a product I’ve used or tasted. And if it wasn't the same exact product or brand, then it was a comparable brand. So from me, and these little guys (not my dogs), happy holidays, and happy holiday shopping.
Holiday Gift Guide for Cocktail Lovers
Carry-On Cocktail Kit
The Carry-On Cocktail Kit may just be my favorite gift of all time, combining two of my favorite things, travel and cocktails. In fact, this is the only item from last year’s holiday gift guide that makes this year’s cut. The product, produced by W&P Design, is just as it sounds, a cocktail kit (for two cocktails) that you can carry onto a flight, coming with all the necessary mixers and tools you need for each cocktail. You just have to supply the booze. W&P Design's current selection of cocktails include the Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary, Hot Toddy, and Margarita.
Bartender Mixology Kit
I recently wrote about stocking your home bar, and while most of my home bar tools I’ve bought over the years, you can also buy most of them in one package for that budding home bartender in your life. Mixology & Craft is a good starting place, specializing in barware tools, and selling a couple different mixology kits, including a 15-piece bartender kit and 12-piece bartender kit. Elsewhere, I like NÄUZone’s 10-piece set for having a Boston shaker, which most kits don’t have. If you don't want to commit to a complete bartender kit, a cocktail bar multi-tool, such as the Bar10der, is a great stocking stuffer.
Custom Rocks Glasses
Believe it or not, this was one of the first items in my home bar. Perhaps it’s because I’m a guy and I love a nice, unique whiskey or cocktail glass. Or I'm just unusual like that. But my first rocks glasses were a four-piece set from Sisters of Los Angeles, splashed with designs of my favorite L.A. neighborhoods. However, among my new favorite rocks glasses are these map eye candy glasses by UncommonGreen, featuring streets maps etched onto them.
Don't judge me, but yes, I absolutely have ice molds in my freezer. They are great in an Old Fashioned or Negroni, not to mention quite the party pleasers and very Instagrammable. While I’ve used a few different ice molds, hands down my favorite is Tovolo. Tovolo has a few different molds, my favorite of which are the ice spheres and the king cube ice tray.
Barrel Aged Cocktail Kit
Anyone who knows me or has spent time on WTG knows that I love barrel-aged spirits and cocktails (it’s in the name after all!). I’ve written about barrel-aging spirits before, having barrel-aged my own cocktails and spirits a number of times. The traditional DIY way is to simply buy your own barrel, or rather mini barrel, and add your own bottle(s) of spirits and other ingredients for an aged spirit or aged cocktail. I’ve typically bought a two-liter barrel, similar to these barrels from American Oak Barrel. However, you can also simply buy a barrel-aged spirits/cocktail kit, like this barrel-aged cocktail kit from Untold Goods, which walks you through the process of making a bottle of your own barrel-aged cocktail.
For the finished product of an aged cocktail without any of the work, then consider just buying bottled cocktails, which are becoming more and more common. Coming from one of my favorite West Coast distilleries is High West’s 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan, their take on a barrel-aged Manhattan. Others, like Cutwater Spirits, for example, are doing canned cocktails. Are they like the real thing? Well I’ll let you be the judge.
Jack Rudy Mixers
By and large I find most mixers, especially ones that you get in grocery stores, to leave much to be desired. They often taste too artificial, syrupy, and sweet. But that’s not the case I’ve found with Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., which makes some of my favorite tonics and mixers. My all-time favorite, however, is their grenadine syrup, which I’ve used often in cocktails calling for grenadine. Say no more to those artificial, grocery store bottles of grenadine.
Yes, cocktails subscriptions are totally a thing. While there are far more beer and wine clubs, a number of cocktail subscriptions exist, delivering craft cocktail kits to your door. One of the oldest and most popular cocktail subscription services is Cocktail Courier, which works with some of America’s top bartenders to curate all the necessary ingredients and mixers for unique DIY craft cocktails.
However, among the subscription services I’ve actually received and enjoyed myself is Robb Vices, which curates some of the best of the best in food, drinks, and lifestyle products. While it’s not a cocktail subscription per se, the boxes often feature a selection of products for the cocktail lover, like the Breville Smoke Gun (hello, smoked cocktails), gourmet salts, bitters, and craft spirits, all of which have been featured in past boxes.
Boring as this may seem, my cocktail books are some of the best gifts I’ve received. For books that exclusively feature cocktail recipes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better book than The PDT Cocktail Book or Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails. If you buy one book, make it one of these, of which Death & Co's book doubles as a great coffee table book. If you’re looking for something with a little bit more narrative and intrigue, then I recommend And a Bottle of Rum and David Wondrich’s Imbibe or Punch, which delve into some of the history of cocktails and cocktail recipes.
I used Amazon affiliate links for some of the products above, but all opinions are my own. Per Amazon’s disclosure agreement, I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.