Cocktail culture is on a pretty big high right now — with craft cocktail bars popping up in every town and restaurants racing to upgrade their drinks menus. But it’s expensive to always go out, and building an amazing cocktail at home is a more rewarding and much easier way to enjoy all the nuance and complexity of mixology. Plus it’s way easier on your wallet in the long run.
Still, perfecting your drink-making skills takes a lot of time and the right equipment — so we’ve compiled some essential gifts for any would-be aficionado. A nice cocktail set, recipe book, or decanter will be a gift that lasts the whole year and gets good use as the object of your gifting works to master those shaking and stirring skills.
Unlike stainless steel, Copper is a reactive, conductive metal. Some say that adds a little something extra to the drink because it cools what’s inside faster. Plus, most alcohol stills are made with copper, so there’s a definite parallel with keeping your spirits in copper during prep.
Oh, and it looks baller too. ($139.99)
Every budding home mixologists needs a recipe book to study. So why not go back to the start. The Bon Vivant’s Companion is the premier cocktail and drink recipe book and helped standardize the whole game. There are tons of other books out there to chose from, but this is the one the started it all and it still holds up to this day. ($18.99 hardcover/ $2.99 Kindle)
You literally cannot make a cocktail without bitters. By very definition a cocktail is a base, enhancer, bitters, and water. A nice bitters set allows you to sample each of the flavors and hone in on what makes a Angostura and Angostura and Peychaud’s a Peychaud’s. Soon you’ll be whipping up Manhattans and Old Fashioneds like it’s old hat. ($27.99)
If copper isn’t your thing, a standard bar tool set is a must. And why not deliver that in a handy tabletop portable bar set. All the strainers, knives, jiggers, and shakers are included and you can take it anywhere. It’s the perfect starter kit. ($199.99)
As above, portability is a virtue that many bartenders can’t enjoy (since they’re anchored to bars). This nice little kit allows you to mix up some decent Martinis even when you’re in the park, or anywhere else for that matter. ($179.99)
Cocktail culture isn’t only about the tools to make a decent concoction. You need something good to pour that labor-intensive drink into once you’ve mastered the mix. A nice set of cocktail glasses go a long way to upping your cocktail game. Just make sure you always chill them before you pour. ($39.95)
This tool of the trade is a must. Stirring the perfect Manhattan or Martini or El Presidente requires a solid jug to ease the cooling process without reacting and thereby adding anything to the spirit within. Investing in a good crystal jug will up any mixer’s game. Just be sure never, ever to wash it in hot water — it’ll crack. ($18.99)
Sometimes it’s not even about the mixing. It can also be about the presentation of a really good spirit. A good looking decanter with glasses ups your presentation game and looks absolutely awesome on anyone’s home bar. ($68.99)
As far as trends go, Moscow Mules have come and gone and come again. Still, the drink itself endures — making an investment in some decent copper mugs a wise one. ($26.05)