The holidays are approaching, and it’s time to think about presents! While a bottle of wine, gin or whiskey will almost certainly be appreciated by many on your gift list, why not mix it up this year with something that spices up their home bar or highlights their appreciation of a delectable dram? Below, a veritable wishlist of elegant barware, flavor enhancers, books, goofy stocking stuffers and more for those hard (or fun)-to-buy-for folks on your list.
When it comes to whisk(e)y, whether it’s Bourbon, Rye or Scotch, the magic happens in the barrel. That’s where you get the color and complex notes of vanilla, caramel, oak and leather. Grand Teton Distilling out of Driggs, Idaho (on the Wyoming border), elevates your home bar with a small new oak barrel for your kitchen counter or bartop. Drop a bottle of unaged whiskey in the barrel, check back each week, and in a month or two, you’ll have a mellow, personally crafted brown spirit. Or add already-made bourbon, tequila, cognac, rum, or spirits-forward cocktails— you’ll develop additional warmth, flavor and aging in a snap. PRO TIP: Submerging the barrel in water for two or three days prior to filling helps to avoid leaks.
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Add a touch of Mod swagger to your backpack, handbag or hidden garter with this wood-wrapped flask from Spitfire Girl. Natural wood veneers are cut and stained to create a groovy retro silhouette, which is then hand wrapped around a stainless steel flask. A number of other designs are available, as is gift wrapping.
San Francisco-based booze writer and Alcohol Professor contributor Camper English has been covering the field for a good long time now. He also has a background in science and is known for regularly creating massive databases and conducting careful experimentation on how to produce clear ice at home, along with chasing down accurate (as possible) booze histories. This book combines his multiple interests, looking at the long history (think monks and alchemists) of alcohol both as legitimate medical treatment and as marketed medical “miracle” (and a way to dodge Prohibition). Historic ads, obscure products and humorous observation make this an entertaining and informative read.
Italy may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of gin, but Malfy is legit. Heck, there’s an argument to be made that gin has its origins in Italy (where juniper is plentiful and historically considered medicinal). Distilled and bottled in Turin (northern Italy), it’s bright, crisp and citrusy. This set comes with two large Copa glasses, allowing you to enjoy a tasty “gintonic” they way folks do along the Mediterranean.
Great Jones Distilling Company, Manhattan’s first and only modern whiskey distillery, launched in August 2021. It’s proved to be a popular destination, with Happy Hour specials, a full-service restaurant, and a variety of experiences for locals and visitors alike. The Bourbon & Bites tour combines the traditional gaping at mash tuns and stills with a tasty sampling afterwards of the distillery’s whiskeys alongside cheese, chocolate and charcuterie. They’ll even explain how they’ve managed to offer five-year aged whiskey at a year-old distillery (they thought ahead). Private tours also available.
If you’ve ever watched a cooking competition on TV, you’ll know that making your own ice cream in a rush can be a hit-or-miss business, and traditional ice cream makers take time and effort, and take up precious space. Hijinx solves all these problems, and you get to customize your own ice cream. TikTok and Instagram loves this stuff, by the way. Combine the Hijinx powder with warm half-and-half (or water, coffee, Almond milk, booze, etc), blend, cool, mix in your creative combinations (think beyond chocolate chips to Cheetos, mac & cheese, jam, etc) and freeze. Ice cream! Hijinx now also offers pre-mixed flavor options, including Piña Colada, Napa Valley Merlot and Irish Cream (and they’re half the price of the original). Gift bundles are currently on sale as well.
$10 / pack
Large ice cubes with logos or other designs is a super cool (pun intended) trend we love seeing in our favorite bars. With Siligrams ice trays, you can get a custom ice mold featuring your initials, logo or unique design. Each mold in the 4-cube tray can even feature different designs. Great for home bars or large businesses, because there is no minimum or maximum order. Added bonus: the trays are made right here in the good ol’ US of A.
$49.99 and up
There are a myriad of methods to infuse wood smoke into cocktails, creating a richer, more complex drink. This elegant system is compact, simple and designed to smoke one drink at a time. Place the wood topper and mesh screen atop your glass, fill with wood chips, smoke with a blowtorch and cover to infuse. Et voila!
$65 without blowtorch, $100 with
Your friend has a bottle of smoky, peaty Islay Scotch and wants to know what else to do with it. If they haven’t done oyster luges, here’s your chance to introduce them to a whole new world. The starter kit includes a shucking knife, sturdy glove set and 36 ultra-fresh extra small Hog Island Sweetwaters (or similar type depending on the season) out of California. They’ve even got an instructional video.
Likhâ (meaning “creation” or “to craft”) curates beautifully handcrafted home goods, jewelry, and more from artisans and communities in the Philippines. These luxurious coasters are crafted from black mother-of-pearl and each is unique. You’ll receive a set of four, along with a canvas storage pouch. Hand clean. Secure free shipping (in the U.S.) on orders over $100 with code FREESHIP.
Whether you’re still skittish about large groups or simply living somewhere it’s not easy to access the experts, this virtual tasting series, featuring industry giants walking you through the fine points of whisky, rum, bourbon, tequila and more is an excellent experience. Industry legends like Ivy Mix, Dave Broom, and Peggy Noe Stevens offer up customizable tasting experiences online as part of the universe that is Spirits Network. Book a class for yourself or a group, fill in the details, and Spirits Network will mail you a premium tasting kit (read: booze and glasses). Learn detailed information as you sip along (like Masterclass but live, customized, and with the best drinks).
For the single malt fan on your list, surprise them with a membership to this venerable Scotch-loving organization. Members have access to events, tastings, and specially sourced and blended bottles of some of the best Scotch whiskies around. Scroll down the page to the One-Year Membership and Tasting Kit (you can buy it for yourself or gift it). The lucky recipient will receive all the benefits of membership along with a tasting kit of three different 100ml single-cask whiskies, two Glencairn glasses, a small water pitcher, and an SMWS notebook for tasting notes.
From an innovative hot sauce subscription club comes this spiced salt set. Great on grilled meats, of course, consider rimming your margarita glass or adding just a pinch to citrus-forward cocktails for added complexity. You’ll receive a jar each of Smoked Serrano, Black Reaper, and Himalayan Ghost salts. Check out their Hot Sauce Gifts for other gift boxes (the All-Star Crate is a nice introduction). Use promo code HOT to earn 10 percent off your first order.
Death & Co Swish Cloths
It’s possible you became familiar with Cloud Paper’s eco-friendly bamboo toilet paper during lockdown. But they make all sorts of planet-friendly products, including these new swish cloths (also known as Swedish dishcloths). In collaboration with veteran craft cocktail bar Death & Co, these cloths feature 50s-style graphics of cool drinks, a recipe for the “Swish Cocktail” (consider including the ingredients in your gift), and are biodegradable. You get three in a set.
Bevridge American Single Malt Tasting Experience
In partnership with Whisky Live—a multi-city whisky tasting extravaganza—this sampler kit features 10 small bottles (100ml each) of some of the best examples of the newest category of American whiskey – single malts. 100% malted barley from a single distillery, but crafted in an American style. You’ll get stellar examples from Westland (Seattle) Virginia Distillery (Lovingston), Westward (Portland) and Boulder (Colorado), along with copious tasting notes and information about each distillery. There’s also a World Whisky Tasting Experience ($100) with whiskies from America, Scotland and Ireland.
Camp Dehydrated Simple Syrups
Simple syrups are, well, simple to make: Sugar, water, a little spice, root, or citrus. Simmer, dissolve, cool. However, sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Camp Craft Cocktails has created Simple, a line of infused sugars (they call them “dehydrated”) that arrive as solid blocks in bottles. Store them dry more or less indefinitely. When you’re ready for Cocktail Night, add hot water, allow the sugars to dissolve (shaking helps), cool and start mixing. This gift set has four varieties, including Hibiscus, Mint, Citrus and Classic (non-GMO vegan cane sugar).
Drink Like A Local New York: A Field Guide To New York’s Best Bars
Author and drinks writer (and former Alcohol Professor editor) Amanda Schuster provides a much-need update on where and how to drink in NYC. Designed to inform both tourists and locals, the book is chock full of cool bars, bartender profiles, cocktail and bar histories, quirky facts, and overlooked gems. Unlike NYC guidebooks of decades past, Schuster makes certain to cover all five boroughs in detail.
Damrak VirGin Zero Proof Cocktail Kit
Dry January, Sober October, sober adjacent. Drinking less (or not at all) is a noble trend and one that is finally receiving both respect and support, thanks to the plethora of zero-alcohol products now on the market. Damrak VirGin (get it?) is ready to get you started or provide the perfect gift for your not-drinking friend. Distilled in Amsterdam using ten botanicals (including lavender, ginger, cinnamon, and juniper), it’s designed to be blended into cocktails. On its own, it tastes lighter and sweeter than its boozy counterpart (could use more juniper, we think). The kit comes with a bottle of Damrak and three different cans of Q Tonic to make booze-free Palomas, G&Ts, and more. Combine and enjoy!
Tipsy Scoop Holiday Favorites 5-Pack
If you haven’t tried Tipsy Scoop’s boozy offerings, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Alcohol-fueled ice cream isn’t a rarity, and lots of local purveyors offer versions in most large communities. But somehow, Tipsy nails it. Ice cream fans and cocktail fans both will enjoy this gift pack of five popular flavors, all delivered in a festive holiday box. You’ll get five, limited-edition wintry favorites, including iced Holiday Sugar Cookie Martini (whatever that might be), Whiskey Chocolate Caramel Truffle (now you’re talking) and Andes Mint Spiked Hot Chocolate. 21 and over (there’s actual booze in this ice cream), adult signature required on delivery.
Artisanal Jícaras Mezcal Cups
Mezcal is an even more satisfying experience when sipping from Jícaras: traditional woody cups made from the husk of the calabash fruit. Right now, Catedral de Mi Padre mezcal is offering a set of four cups, with a cleaver woven reed base and handmade in Oaxaca. They’re normally $20 for a set, or you can get it for free when you buy one of Catedral’s six mezcal varietals in December. The bottles boast a cool leather base and regional family mezcaleros make the juice.
$20 / free with bottle purchase
Sailor Jerry Ironsides BBQ Sauce
Move aside, whiskey-fueled hot sauces: here comes Sailor Jerry. This American-made, Veteran-owned sauce from Grill Your Ass Off has been given an extra kick-start with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, creating a smooth, smoky sauce with a sweet heat finish. Half of the profits for this limited-edition release will be donated to the Independence Fund, a non-profit dedicated to providing physical, mental and emotional aid to Veterans (tattoo legend Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, for whom the rum is named, was a Navy vet himself).
Salteez Beer Salt Strips
We know what you’re saying: “Beer Salt Strips?” Yeah, we didn’t get it either at first. But it’s literally a peel-and-stick strip of salt to attach to the side of your can, bottle or glass, giving you a dash of flavored salt with each sip, minus the messy wetting and rolling. Flavors include Pickle, Sweet & Sour Peach, Mango Chili and Chili Lime. Works well with Margarita glasses too.
$25 / five packs
Make Your Own Single Barrel, Angel’s Envy Distillery
Distillery tours are super fun. Pouring a bottle of something interesting during a distillery tour is even more fun. Doing it at Angel’s Envy, one of the premier whiskey producers in the country? Priceless. Well, there is a price, but you get our drift. While everyone else stares at the pot stills, then heads to the gift shop, you and your buddies will approach an ex-port barrel filled with Angel’s Envy Straight Bourbon and fill up your bottle. You’ll be securing a full 750 mls of carefully curated whiskey to enjoy on your own. Experience does not include the standard distillery tour, one experience per visit.
$150 / person (up to 6 people per tour)
CMK Vintage Inspired Moscow Mule Mugs
Moscow Mules (vodka, ginger beer, lime, and lots of ice) date back to the mid-1940s and have been associated with copper mugs since the beginning. These hand-hammered, copper and brass classic mugs from Coppermill Kitchen keep your Mules nice and frosty and provide just the right vintage vibe. Combine them with CMK’s vintage cocktail shaker for the home bartenders on your list. Available in a set of four or eight mugs.
$175 / $275
Goodnow Farms Sweet And Savory Gift Collection
Goodnow Farms, an award-winning Massachusetts-based chocolatier also offers a whole host of other tasty products. This gift set features four large single-origin chocolate bars (including one made with lots of Putnam Rye Whiskey) other regional favorites like Runamok Orange Maple Bitters and Burlap & Barrel Caramelized Onions. You also score free shipping and a custom gift box.
G And Tea Experience Flemings Mayfair London
Located inside the elegant Flemings Mayfair London hotel at the equally posh & compact Manetta’s Bar, this charming experience will top off a long weekend away perfectly. It’s an afternoon tea, but with gin! Pair a lovely selection of tea blends, small bites, and pastries with one of three gins: Salcombe Gin Rosè, Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, or Nicholson London Dry (or sample all three for an extra £25).
£45 / person
Savage & Cooke Whiskey Sampler
Legendary Napa winemaker Dave Phinney launched the Savage & Cooke distillery on historic Mare Island in 2018, and immediately set to making innovative brown spirits. It’s an easy trek from either Napa Valley or San Francisco and definitely worth the visit. Tempt the whiskey fan in your life with this three-bottle sampler. Each 375ml bottle holds characteristic expressions from the distillery: The Burning Chair Bourbon, Second Glance
Picnic Box Ceylon Traveling Bar
Modeled after the classic Victorian travel trunk, this sophisticated portable mahogany bar from Authentic Models really is the gift for the person who has everything. Featuring a two-tone black-and-tan wood finish, there are recessed spaces for bottle openers, shot glasses and napkins, and segmented compartments for glasses and bottles. A separate base and folding standing legs prop the bar up so you’re ready for service. Contact Easton, Maryland-based Benjamin (410.946.6171) to purchase. Now let’s steam to Corfu!
Macallan Ice Ball Maker
A well-made ice sphere in an Old Fashioned or a dram (it’s okay if you drink your whisky with ice, we won’t tell anyone) is a joyous experience. It looks cool, the ice melts more slowly and it looks cool. This aluminum alloy ice ball maker builds better spheres than a silicone mold because you can add pressure to make a better-shaped, clearer sphere that just feels more elevated.
Monkey Musk Eau De Parfum
Monkey Shoulder blended Scotch whisky is a popular, easy-drinking blended Scotch that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. We haven’t been able to figure out if this is one of those April Fool’s jokes that turned real (like the Hendrick’s pickles), or is completely legit. The perfume/cologne is designed to mimic the whisky’s aromatic notes (guided by Monkey Shoulder malt master Brian Kinsman), but doesn’t smell like you just sprayed whisky on yourself. It’s quite nice actually: Softly floral with notes of oak and spice. Is a serious product? It’s called “Monkey Musk” and Joel McHale is the spokesperson, so it’s hard to say. But it is real, and when you order, you also score a redeemable code for a full bottle of Monkey Shoulder, so we say it’s a win.
Kahlúa Espresso Martini Kit
The espresso martini is once again on everyone’s lips (literally), so what better way to welcome in the holidays than with this elaborate kit from TV personality Gail Simmons and Kahlúa? You’ll get everything you need to make several intriguing espresso martinis, including a recipe for edible, stemless cocoa cookie cups in which to serve your concoctions, which can be rimmed with toppings like chopped hazelnuts or crushed candy canes (recipe comes with). The kit includes enough vodka and Kahlúa to serve four and have enough for seconds, along with garnishes for your edible cups, garnish board, a muffin tin, whimsical guest placards, and detailed instructions.
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