With cocktail culture on the rise — and whiskey, rum, and gin cultures skyrocketing worldwide — knowing and being able to make a great drink has become a nearly-essential life skill. To do so requires a combination of basic know-how, stellar ingredients, and the right tools. Lose one of those elements and you lose the ability to serve up…well, just about any drink.
The thing is, it does take some investment to properly up your cocktail game. That, in turn, makes cocktail-related gifts an easy win for anyone in your life who’s looking to master the art of bartending. The gifts below are essentials for any burgeoning home bar aficinado — and also anyone looking to dive a little deeper.
Check them out!
MIXOLOGY BARTENDER KIT
The best place to start any cocktail journey is with a solid bartending kit. Shakers, strainers, muddlers, bar spoons, and jiggers are all essentials. The great thing about a kit like this is that it kills a lot of birds with one stone and comes in a compact and fashionable wooden base.
This will look good on any home bar and get the job done for any beginner.
CRYSTAL COCKTAIL MIXING JUG
Yes, it’s great to have a shaker for some cocktails. But, really, you need a mixing jug for the majority of slow and more nuanced cocktails — like a Manhattan or El Presidente. A classy crystal jug is an easy investment that’ll add a flourish to the home bar while being immediately useful for mixing up a killer drink.
We may have the tools to make a great cocktail but we all need a little guidance too. The Cocktail Codex is the ultimate cocktail guide — a book that offers up a master’s education in how to execute the most basic, intermediate, and advanced cocktails.
It extends beyond just drink making, though. Codex takes the reader into the world of cocktails, prep, and history that’s both engaging and amazingly useful in practice.
CARRY-ON COCKTAIL KIT
This is a fun stocking stuffer ad the cocktail lover in your life doesn’t have to be a pro home bartender to enjoy it. A Carry-on Cocktail Kit allows anyone the chance to mix their own (basic) cocktails with those little bottles of booze they serve on flights. It’s simple, fun, and easy. That’s the best you can hope for with a small gift like this one.
KANARS OLD FASHIONED GLASSES
A hefty rocks glass changes the way you drink. Feeling that weight in your hand and letting the drink flow over you makes for an upped experience all around. Plus, a good set of rocks glasses are classy AF. Having glasses like this say to any guests that you know what you’re doing — or, at least, it shows you care about what you’re doing when it comes to drinking.
SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK
The Savoy in London is one of the world’s great and historically important cocktail bars. Their menu is as legendary as their clientele. This book is another must for getting historical context and unique recipes that’ll up any home bartender’s game dramatically. A must-have classic.
LIBBEY COUPE COCKTAIL GLASSES
There are a lot of cocktail glasses to choose from out there. And, honestly, it does come down to personal style. Still, there are classic designs that transcend personal style or even an era. Old school coupes will never go out of style and you’ll always look fly with one in your hand, especially with a killer cocktail swishing around in the bowl.
JIM MURRAY’S WHISKEY BIBLE 2020
It’s one thing to understand the history of cocktails and get a handle on recipes. It’s another to go deep on a single ingredient to up anyone’s cocktail game. Jim Murray is a name all cocktail aficionados should know well. Murray’s yearly deep dives in the absolute best whisk(e)y in the world is a must-have to know which bottles of the good stuff you should be investing in right now.
GOPLUS GLOBE BAR
This is just fun. We mean, who doesn’t want a bar hidden in a globe in their house? Seriously though, this is a cool gift that feels like it’ll put a smile on anyone’s face if they receive it. It’s got old school charm and is actually useful as a small home bar. Wins all around.
COOPER & THIEF BARTENDER BAG
The price and chic style of this gift means it’s more for the cocktail lover who’s ready to take their prowess to the next level. The bag is well-made and includes a padded compartment for a killer bottle. The mixing gear is fine copper and highly stylized. Whoever is carrying this bar bag around is going to look dope AF and be able to execute a killer drink anywhere they go.
Editor’s Pick: BEEHIVE CHEESE “POUR ME A SLICE”
Price: $15.99 for 12 oz.
The marrying of whiskey and cheese feels like a no-brainer. Whiskey is delicious, cheese is delicious — let’s combine the two. Beehive Cheese in Utah just teamed up with one of Kentucky’s best bourbon makers to bring this marriage to new heights. Beehive has infused their aged cheddar with Basil Hayden’s high-rye bourbon to create a flavor-bomb. The rich and sharp cheese carries notes of rye spice that works as a wonderful accent to the cheddar.
“Pour Me A Slice” is a great accompaniment to anyone who’s into bourbon, cocktails, or even spirits in general. That’s doubly true if they’re also a cheese lover.
Editor’s Pick: EPARE CLEAR ICE SYSTEM
One of the most charming things about the whole whiskey experience is the heavy, almost-leaden feel of a single ice cube sliding around in the bottom of your glass. The problem is that those ice cubes are made in bulk via deep freeze — a process that even the passionate at-home drinker certainly doesn’t have access to.
Eparé broke the code to this riddle with their home clear ice system. It doesn’t require any special freezer and the result is four of those giant cubes that no good speakeasy would be caught dead without. Lest you think it’s all just gimmick, small cubes mean more surface area, which means more melting, which means more water in your dram. Too much water to fully appreciate what you’re sipping.
So yes, this is a stylish gift, but it’s also an incredibly functional one.
Editor’s Splurge: THE SPIRITS NETWORK — ENTHUSIAST OR CONNOISSEUR MEMBERSHIP
Price: $99 for Enthusiast Level and $150.00 for Connoisseur
This is a pricey gift, but a spectacular one. These mixed-and-matched spirits-centric gift boxes come with a 750ml bottle of a premium spirit (based on the preferences of the giftee) along with other spirits-adjacent items — gin-based soap, glassware, cask-aged coffee, candies, books, etc. The gift box trend peaked last year, but the items in the Spirits Network boxes are a natural fit for spirits lovers and there are none of the wasted add-ons that plague the whole gift box industry.
Even the socks that came in my sample box made it into my rotation. The book, coffee, and soap all seemed tailored to me, as well.
At the connoisseur tier, you also get VIP access to events and free shipping. What’s more, every membership level comes with access to The Spirits Network’s content bank — shows, tutorials, and tasting guides — viewable on a range of platforms and devices. If you know someone who wants to really take a leap into the spirits game, give them this and bathe in the gratitude all year long.
As an Amazon Affiliate, Uproxx may receive commissions on certain purchases. Certain items on this list were sent or loaned to Uproxx for review.