Be Your Own Bartender
This is a fun, interactive book featuring over a dozen flowcharts to guide you to the perfect drink for every mood and occasion.
This versatile cocktail jigger features two primary measures for one- and two-ounce pours, but what makes it especially useful are the etched markings inside each cup indicating 0.5, 0.75, and 1.5 ounces, so that you don't have to get out multiple jiggers just to make a cocktail.
Handheld Seltzer Maker
If you're short on space, this compact soda maker fits snugly into any refrigerator door. The iSi Sodamaker Classic can carbonate 0.9 liter of water at a time using recyclable, 15-gram CO2 cartridges. This unit also maintained the carbonation level of the water over the long term better than the other models we tested.
Cocktail Kingdom Lewis Bag
If you're taking our advice and buying pretty metal julep cups, either as a gift or for yourself, you might as well go all the way and grab an inexpensive canvas Lewis bag as well—it's used to smash ice into a fine powder with a mallet.
This type of strainer, called a Hawthorne strainer, consists of a flat disk affixed to a coiled spring. The spring traps large chunks or slivers of ice and other solid ingredients, such as muddled fruit or mint leaves. The spring also allows you to control the flow of liquid from the shaker, and the strainer does a generally excellent job of keeping small ice chips, citrus pulp, and particles of muddled ingredients in the shaker, where they belong.
2-Piece Boston Shaker Cocktail Set
We prefer to use a Boston shaker over a three-piece metal cobbler set, which has a tendency to seize up. Boston shakers open easily, they're relatively inexpensive, and even if the mixing glass breaks, you can replace it for cheap. Using a Boston does require you to have a separate strainer, but that means you can choose a strainer that'll do the job well.
Leon Circle Wine Club
For the oenophile in your life, there’s no greater gift than the gift of, you guessed it, wine. Chris Leon, owner and wine director of Leon & Son Wine in Brooklyn, developed his wine club exactly with that person in mind. Leon Circle is a subscription service that delivers three expressive wines from ambitious producers, hand-picked by Chris himself, right to your doorstep. You can opt for a one-time delivery or a membership package of three or six months.
Sure, you can serve crushed-ice cocktails in a regular old glass, but these shiny pineapple-shaped tumblers really up the ante and make a tiki party feel special.
Le Creuset Pitcher
Pitchers are great home multitaskers, and this beautiful one by Le Creuset is no exception. We love the meringue color, but choose whichever tone suits your fancy. Then use it to pour coffee for a cozy breakfast, hold margaritas for your next party, or act as a nice little vase for a holiday bouquet.
Redbreast 15-Year Irish Whiskey
For those who find Scotch too smoky, bourbon too sweet, and rye too spicy, Irish whiskey is the ideal gift. Redbreast emerges from the barrels complex and substantial; some of the whiskey is aged in sherry casks, lending it a weight and dark hue, while some is aged in bourbon casks, imparting characteristic vanilla flavors. There's a hint of fruit up front and spice on the finish.
Taketsuru Pure Malt Japanese Whisky
Anyone who appreciates Scotch (or good spirits in general) will embrace Nikka's exquisite whiskies. The Taketsuru Pure Malt is named for the company's founder, who studied in Scotland before bringing whisky distilling back to Japan. This bottling has a slight fruity character, with lingering sherry on the finish.
Ariel's dad lives in Florida and never drinks enough water. These little tumblers are the perfect compromise for getting him to drink just enough to not get totally dehydrated every day. And if he refuses to fill them with water, at least he can use them for alcoholic beverages. The final plus: They stack, so they won't take up too much space in his cabinets.
Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique, nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.
Rose and Orange Flower Water
Forget flowers—they'll be dead by the end of the week. These flower waters, on the other hand, will last (most of) a lifetime. Both rose and orange flower water will stay good just about forever on the shelf, and a drop or two is all that's needed to give any recipe an aromatic boost. Try a splash of rose water with a strawberry or rhubarb dessert, or orange flower water in a classic New York cheesecake, where its gentle perfume can work wonders.
Get It Right Bottle Stopper
This clever little silicone bottle stopper is a true wonder. A tight seal keeps wine from dripping out, whether the bottle is on its side in the fridge or flipped fully upside down (Ariel's tried!). It comes in several colors and shapes and makes a perfect stocking stuffer for all your wine-loving friends.
We don't often recommend single-function items, but for the cocktail enthusiast, a couple of julep cups really are fun to have. There's nothing like holding that metal cup frosted with ice on a blisteringly hot summer day. If you don't have an ice crusher, check out our Lewis bag suggestion as well.
If you like to give a nice bottle of whiskey for special occasions, try switching things up with some nice glassware. This whiskey set from Snowe is durable and elegant, sure to get serious use in the homes of your spirit-loving friends for years to come.
You could use any old spoon to stir a cocktail, but a bar spoon is best suited for the job. Long and slender, it can reach to the bottom of a tall mixing glass packed with ice, without getting stuck on the way in or out. Its twisted handle isn't just for aesthetics, either—it's designed to spin gracefully in your fingers as the spoon goes round and round, minimizing the jostling of the contents with the spoon bowl and reducing splashes and spills. Plus, it just looks cool.
If you've ever thought that citrus presses are overhyped, absurdly specific, rarely useful, space-consuming, money-wasting gadgets, you're not alone. But it takes only one use to see just how wrong you are—not only does a citrus press guarantee that you'll get way more juice out of every lemon and lime you squeeze, but you can say good-bye to stinging papercuts and all those infuriating attempts at pinching slippery stray seeds from your salad dressings and cocktails.
Punt e Mes
Punt e Mes is both bitter and sweet, like a rich bottled vermouth cocktail that'll please lovers of Italian amari. It's delicious stuff, wonderful chilled on its own and fantastic with Cynar, lemon, salt, and orange bitters in this cocktail. If your favorite drinker hasn't tried it, make the introduction.
Mini Angled Measuring Cup
This small, quarter-cup liquid measure from OXO is indispensable in the kitchen, making all the awkwardness of measuring something like one and a half tablespoons a thing of the past. You can use it at your home bar, too: Its fluid-ounce markings make it a handy stand-in for a cocktail jigger.
The Cocktail Chronicles
Having The Cocktail Chronicles at your side is like having a friend who always knows a good drink recipe for whatever you've got on hand. It doesn't talk your ear off or suggest something with a dozen ingredients. Instead, it shares classics, recent spins on classics, and drinks you've never heard of but can easily mix up and enjoy, and the introductions are never preachy or boring.
Ceramic Sangria Pitcher
If there is sangria on the menu, Kristina's mom is ordering it. It's an endeavor she's tackled at home only a few times, but with this pitcher on hand, she might be more inclined to make it regularly. The pinched spout is a genius detail that keeps all the fruit and ice from splashing into your glass, and when it's not filled with sangria, it can be used as a vase. We love a two-fer!
Countertop Seltzer Maker
Make your own seltzer water at home with this easy-to-use unit. It comes equipped with LED indicators displaying three levels of carbonation and a BPA-free bottle that locks into the unit with no twisting, and it requires no batteries or electricity to operate. This model fits 14.5-ounce and three-ounce CO2 cylinders, which can be traded in for just the cost of the gas at your local hardware or home-goods store.
This remarkable book, from Martin and Rebecca Cate of San Francisco's Smuggler's Cove, traces the birth and evolution of exotic drinks and tiki bars—bars that embodied an American escapist fantasy. A lively exploration of our country's drinking history (and the current tiki scene), it's essential reading for rum lovers, offering the best categorization we've encountered of the head-spinningly diverse spirit. The mai tai recipe is great, too.
Punch Bowl Set
We have this 10-piece punch bowl set in our office, and it's been put to very good use. It's big and impressive while still being affordable, which are the best qualities you can hope for in holiday-party decor.
The OXO worked on every bottle and cork we tested it with. The two-step motion—push down, then pull up—yanks the cork out in about two seconds. Repeat the process, and the cork drops free of the opener. The capable foil cutter clips into the body of the tool.
The One-Bottle Cocktail
Organized by spirit—vodka, gin, agave, rum, brandy, and whiskey—with an additional section devoted to specific seasons and occasions, The One-Bottle Cocktail makes it easy to figure out how to polish off that lingering liter of rum and is guaranteed to expand your cocktail repertoire for your go-to bottle. It does so by forging surprising, nuanced, eminently sippable flavors from commonplace liquors and fresh fruits, herbs, and other seasonal ingredients, as well as vinegars, spices, and sodas. This is the kind of book that every home cocktail-maker should keep on their shelf.
Wine Carafe with Oak Stopper
I spent most of 2018 getting into wine, and one of my biggest takeaways was that most wines could benefit from a decant. Does a wine feel closed—like it has only one note on the nose or the tongue? Then it definitely needs to aerate in a decanter. This one is an inexpensive glass model with a chic wooden topper, from the Scandinavian brand Sagaform. It looks just as good on your bar cart or shelf as it does on the dinner table, and will give your Bordeaux a little room to breathe.
Insulated Beverage Bottle
The Hydro Flask is designed to keep water cold for hours on end, but its vacuum-insulated walls don't discriminate between beverages: The 32-ounce flask can also accommodate a full bottle of wine or a big batch of margaritas. It's ideal for picnics and trips to the beach, no matter what you're drinking.
Fancy Glass Pitcher
Niki received this classic Waterford pitcher as a wedding gift, and it's become a workhorse in her home. When she's not using it to decant wine, it's hard at work serving cocktails, ice water, and juices. And in between any special occasions, you can drop in some fresh flowers and use it as a vase.
Dave Arnold (you might know of his bar, Booker and Dax in NYC) won't just accept the common assumptions about cocktail technique—his mission in this excellent book is to dig into the science of how the very best drinks are made. This is a must-read for inquisitive types who like to host cocktail hour at home.
If you want your home cocktail equipment a little less out of sight and out of mind, consider highlighting your bourbon and bitters with a bar cart. The combination of curves, straight lines, and brass finish in this one makes it feel very mid-'50s. Mix drinks on the upper shelf and stash ice buckets, glasses, and other supplies down below.
An ideal gift for any Manhattan, cherry, or all-around whiskey lover. These cherries trade the cloying sweetness of maraschinos for the boozy bass notes of great whiskey. Use them in your go-to whiskey cocktail, or to top a favorite dessert.
This etched mixing glass from Japan looks stunning on a bar cart and even better in action, whether you're stirring a Negroni, a Martini, or a Manhattan. Mixing glasses made from two parts joined together sometimes split at the seam, but this version, made in one piece with a beaker-like spout, can stand up to heavy use.
If you know someone who has a taste for a well-made cocktail, but lives far from the heart of the Brooklyn drinking scene, this book is the perfect gift. It features 300 innovative and classic drink recipes from the best bars of the borough; every cocktail we've tried from it so far has been killer. The drinks Carey Jones has selected aren't dumbed down at all, but, for the most part, you're not looking at mile-long ingredient lists, either.