It’s that time of year again, and as we know, shopping for bartenders and bar enthusiasts alike isn’t all that easy if you aren’t sure what to look for. Thankfully, my online shopping addiction has yet to be suppressed, and I’ve got a few fun things bookmarked for my holiday wish list.
For the beer geek in your life
Beer is getting serious, and so are the beer lovers. From microbreweries to new imports, it’s hard to keep track of the classics and crossbred styles alike. There is also more information available about beer now than ever before. You can even go through a Cicerone Certification Program to up your beer savvy or further your career in the great big world of beer. If the beer lover in your life isn’t quite ready to take that on, check out these great gifts to help them keep track of their favorites and learn along the way.
For the bartender who loves to DIY
From homemade syrups to shrubs and cordials, DIY has definitely made its home behind the bar. Other than having free creative reign over your product, there is a great sense of pride when all is said and done. While the DIY fanatic may gift you something they crafted themselves, they may revel if you give them all the pieces of a puzzle to put together. Bitters now come in all flavors and forms, so why not gather the ingredients, jars and guidelines, put a bow on it and let your favorite DIYer have their way?
A pretty basic, easy-to-use recipe can be found here, with step-by-step instructions. I’d also suggest a copy of "Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All."
For the book nerd
Every bookworm loves adding some new volumes to their library. Lucky for you, there were a handful of really great books released this fall, chock-full of cocktail creations and history alike. If I had to pick two, they would be:
• "The Art of Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails": While I’m still trying to convince everyone that this is a great way to drink, maybe I’ll let Dinah Sanders take her turn—"more drinks, less drunk."
• "Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey": Since my last mention of this book, I’ve been keeping up with Fred Minnick’s travels across the country to launch his new book. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. What better way to support the whiskey woman in your life than by gifting a copy of this?
For the bartender you got all that gear for last year
So last year you went on a Cocktail Kingdom buying spree (probably my fault, sorry!) and filled your favorite bartender’s stocking with gold-plated bar tool goodies. How do you follow that up? Get geekier. Here are a handful of gifts geared toward the more advanced bartender, who will surely squeal when they see these on Christmas morning.
• Barrel-aged cocktail kit: We will expound on barrel-aged cocktails another time, but this gift set is a great, inexpensive way to achieve a barrel-aging effect without having to find, or lug around, an empty, used barrel. Tuthilltown Spirits has made it easy by stripping off small pieces of barrel staves to impart an aging characteristic on whatever you may choose to fill your barrel with.
• Thermometer spoon: I’ve talked many times about the necessity for stirring and shaking cocktails—dilution and temperature. As we know, spirits are hot, and the longer you stir or shake, the cooler they get from the addition of water from melting ice. Well, believe it or not, overstirring a drink can be just as terrible as not stirring it enough. The solution? A bar spoon with a built-in thermometer to better manage consistency in your cocktails.
Don’t let the holidays stress you out. Remember that giving is fun! What is your favorite bar gift that you have ever received? Until next time, happy gifting!
Laura Kelton is a recent graduate of UTC and currently runs the bar program at Easy Bistro & Bar. Feel free to reach out to her by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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