Holiday Gift Guide: Cocktails

By: 
A.J. Rathbun

It’s not only a big week for Thanksgiving drinks and eats but also a big shopping week (which may lead to more drinks).

If you’re looking for gifts for a home bartender or someone who wants to make better party drinks, I have some suggestions. And if you’re just shopping for yourself, I certainly won’t make fun—as long as you invite me over for drinks.

 

10-Piece Punch Bowl Set (shown above)

For entertaining a crowd, there’s nothing like a punch bowl. Our punch-loving forefathers and foremothers knew this and, thankfully, smart folks are again picking up on how handy they are for parties. I have two, an older model scooped at a thrift store and this more modern 10-piece set. You can make a passel of punch in this, but you probably won’t want to go above half-full to keep things fresh. You can always re-fill it as needed.

WMF Manhattan Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker with Built-In Strainer

A cocktail shaker is the top item to pick up for any home bar. You can get a Boston-style shaker, which is one glass glass and one stainless glass that fit together, or a Cobbler-style shaker like this one, which tends to be three pieces and has a built-in strainer. This particular shaker is super easy to use, awfully pretty, and matches the one I’ve been using for oh, ten years or so.

 

Oxo Good Grips 1/4-Cup Mini Angled Measuring Cup

This might not even look like a bar tool at first – it isn’t very shiny, for example – but it’s amazingly handy for getting precise measurements. And a good measurer/jigger is what you want if you desire drinks that are breathtakingly tasty. The angled inside edges with the amounts make it easy to view when looking down as it’s sitting on the counter or bar, and it’s sturdy enough that you don’t have to fret over it.

 

Bormioli Rocco Ypsilon Stemware Martini Cordial Glasses, Set of 6

Cocktail glasses are of course crucial unless you like drinking straight out of a shaker. These 4-1/4 ounce cocktail glasses (by the way, glasses like this aren’t “Martini” glasses—that’s what goes in them) are much closer to a classic size. Unlike the monsters that are in vogue, these help ensure you’re drinking a cold cocktails and that you aren’t slamming enormous drinks that have you asleep on the couch before the second round.

 

A Reliable Cocktail Book

Okay, sure, I’d be happy if you bought only my cocktail books for that bartender on your list (and hey, Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz was written for you). But there are a healthy number of reliable bar books, new and older, that will help ensure the above tools and glasses are put to good use. Ones I’d suggest include The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan, The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book by Albert Crockett, The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff, and The Essential Bartender’s Guide by local cocktail genius Robert Hess. And if you can find a copy of Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion, it’ll be a bar treasure.

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