If you've got a budding home mixologist on your list, count your blessings. Some folks can be hard to shop for, but there are loads of foolproof cocktail gifts that any home bartender will appreciate no matter their skill level. Good barware and retro cocktail coupes, quality cocktail ingredients to experiment with; even a well-placed bottle to mix concoctions are examples of easy gifting wins. (If you're looking for a bottle suggestion,was the best new thing I tasted this year, followed closely by this .)
These past few years may well be remembered as the golden age for honing our home mixology skills. Left with few options, I took to the bottles and shaker and quickly learned there are some accessories that make bartending a lot more enjoyable -- and others that really kicked the creative juices into gear.
This list features a range of giftable home bar accessories from the pretty to the practical, all of which will make happy hour, well, happier. Plus, there are cocktail-related bar gifts for every budget, from stocking stuffers to splurges. So whether you fancy yourself the cosmopolitan type or it's something more old-fashioned you're after, these are some of the best bar and cocktail gifts to give this holiday season.
As the spice of the mixology world, there's probably no more fun ingredient for a home bartender to experiment with than bitters. Fee Brothers makes a five-pack with some unique cocktail bitters like mint and peach in addition to the more traditional recipes.
One thing a home bartender will always appreciate is good glassware. These Libbey coups are sturdy enough to slide them down the bar but delicate enough to make your Sidecar or Brandy Alexander really pop.
Certain cocktails and, especially those with an underlying sweetness, lend themselves to a nice salty rim. Give your home bartender a set of three salts designed to punch up a tangy margarita, classic martini or another libation being served for happy hour. There are more than 15 salt recipes to choose from.
Highballs are another versatile cocktail glass used for housing fizzy drinks, including Tom Collins' and Gin Rickeys. These retro ringed highballs come in clear, green or a mysterious smoky finish.
A good jam or jelly is my all-time cocktail hack: High-quality fruit preserves, like these infused with booze from Brooklyn Preserves, are fun and underrated mixology ingredients. A little apricot jam in a whiskey old-fashioned or raspberry jalapeño in a margarita will give sweetness and unique fruit flavor so you can forgo that laborious squeezing and simple syrup-making.
Pair these jams with a nice bottle of rye or bourbon, and you've got a very excellent gift for the budding mixologist on your hands.
Spice things up with this small yet sturdy cast-iron mortar and pestle set. This bar tool will eliminate the need for ground spices, pulverizing whole peppercorns and fennel seeds to ensure fresher flavor and stronger aromatics in your drink. In the process, you'll also get a fun workout and stress relief. There's a reason this ancient food processor has withstood the test of time.
This is essentially a tequila tasting set disguised as an infusion kit, but it's a damn nice tequila tasting set. The handblown glasses are just large enough to hold a small margarita or tequila cocktail.
A beautiful solution for the cocktail enthusiast who prefers drinks stirred and not shaken. Wondering why you'd need one of these at all? If you ask an expert, they'll tell you most cocktails made with brown liquors like bourbon, cognac and aged dark rum should be stirred -- not shaken.
You can outfit a bar cart for around $40 with this sleek black matte-metallic Boston shaker set. It's got all the essential tools: shaker, strainer, jigger, muddler, bar spoon and tongs. It comes in copper and silver to coordinate with your home decor.
Another option is this 10-in-1 cocktail tool, which is essentially a Swiss Army Knife for happy hour. It makes a nice alternative if the person on your list is working with limited space, as in a small apartment or even an RV criss-crossing the country (safely), one cocktail at a time. I have one myself and use it all the time.
I think a nice bar board makes an excellent gift for the home mixologist. All cutting boards are not created equally and if you're slicing a lot of juice lemons and limes, you'll want one with a reservoir to catch the juice. If you're nimble enough, you can even slant the board and pour it into a shaker.
This Henckel's board is fairly priced at $16 and comes with two utility knives -- one paring, one serrated -- for cutting fruit and making delicate garnishes.
For a pricier pick, this small Boos board is perfect for slicing limes, other citrus or small garnishes. Think of this as the Cadillac of bar boards with an actual drip tray to collect precious citrus juice to reuse for the next margarita. Brilliant, right? Plus, it's a John Boos so you can rest assured it's top-quality wood.