Bartenders Reveal Their Holiday Wish Lists
Bartenders have one of the hardest jobs in the world. They put up with our whining, poor ordering skills and general rudeness. They make us drinks way faster and tastier than we deserve, and they do it all with a smile (usually). They’ve given us the gift of booze all year long, and for all that hard work, they deserve something special in return this holiday season. Here’s what our favorite bartenders are wishing for this winter.
A Next-Level Bar Cart
“My dream would be to have a vintage bar cart from the ‘60s, complete with real sterling silver barware, diamond cut coupe glasses and pre-made Martinis sitting in a perfectly chilled mini fridge. This would allow me to have the perfect Martini in the comfort of my own home. Sounds like a great holiday present to me.” — Cody Goldstein of The Horny Ram & The Flying Cock, New York, NY
“Restoration Hardware Shagreen 3-Drawer Console Table ($1,795): This would be purely for home entertainment and is something I have dreamed of for a long, long time. Now that I own a house, the dream is quickly becoming a reality, and I can’t wait to have something like this in my living room and serve up my guests. This table offers enough drawer space to lay out your tools, and plenty of room for bottles and making drinks. (I know, I know, a bit extravagant, but this is a wish list, isn’t it?)” — Eirikur Hallsson of Gloria, New York, NY
Glassware With Panache
A Bar-Approved Centrifuge
“For those not familiar, a Spinzall ($800) is a centrifuge that was designed for bar and restaurant use as opposed to lab use. Using centrifugal force, the Spinzall spins out all solids in a liquid that might cause clouding, leaving the final product crystal clear. It works great on things like pineapple, watermelon and tomato juice!” — Jessica Weinstein of Hank's Cocktail Bar, Washington, D.C.
“If my bosses happen to be reading this, a Spinzall sure would be nice, because who doesn't want a centrifuge?” — Tim Garso of Smallman Galley, Pittsburgh, PA
Books to Outfit a Cocktail Library
“Jim Meehan’s Bartender Manual ($26) is great for both experienced and at-home bartenders.” — Oertel
“The Louisiana Atlas and Gazetteer($12): A local atlas is any bartender's best tool for inspiration. It includes every back road of the state and can help discover new cocktail ideas, from ingredients to produce to people.” — Alan Walter of Loa Bar, New Orleans, LA
“I would love to carve out some time to read By The Smoke and the Smell ($19) by Thad Vogler.” — Garso
A Draft Tap System
"I would love a draft tap system and kegs—I wrote santa for that! I love playing around with recipes for cocktails on tap and infusing different flavors at home to try and find what I am looking for. It would make it so much easier to accomplish everything if I was able to do the full recipes at home. Also, I think it would be pretty sweet to have draft cocktails at your house, I mean I don’t know anyone who has that." — Sean Potter of Stoke, Charlotte, NC
I just like the elegance of this Bitters bottle ($20). The simple, smooth shape is really eye-catching, and the copper would look so nice on my console table. Also, the “La Pharmacie” Aromatic Bitters Dasher Bottle ($18) because I can’t have enough bitters bottles on my bar.” — Hallsson
“The new-ish Bulu pineapple bar spoons ($25) would make for the perfect stocking stuffer for my islander heart.” — Garso
Bottles on Bottles
“Hamilton 151 Demerara Rum ($24), J. Rieger & Co. Caffe Amaro ($32) and Arton armagnacs (all expressions) ($58-75).” — Jon and Lindsay Yeager of PourTaste, Nashville, TN
“Cappelletti Pasubio Vino Amaro ($20): This stuff is just absolutely incredible. It’s amazingly cheap for the quality of product. It’s deep and embracing, herbaceous and smoky, yet so incredibly light, refreshing and absolutely quaffable. This is the kind of stuff you drink slightly warm by a fire in the Alps, or chilled out in the warm sun in the summer. It’s outstanding.
Piedra Luenga Organic Pedro Ximenez Sherry ($18): This sherry is the absolute bee’s knees. It is succulent, warm and jam-packed with golden raisin flavor and doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re about to have a diabetic episode. Goes for about $18 retail, although I’m not sure where it is available—MFW distributes it wholesale in the States.
Brennivin 80th Anniversary Blend ($51): Being from Iceland, I couldn’t not have this on my wishlist. This is a blend of three different agings of the traditional Brennivin (an aquavit, which is a neutral grain spirit distilled with caraway), individually aged in American new oak bourbon barrels, and Islay whiskey barrels before blending them all together. The result is a delightfully complex, creamy, slightly smoky, slightly sweet, smooth spirit that is unlike anything else I have ever tasted. Every time I drink it, I taste something new. A must-have for any spirit appreciator.” — Hallsson
A Field Trip
“A trip to Jerez (a city in Spain where sherry is made).” — Dayton (who plans to soon launch a sherry menu at a new restaurant in Boulder, CO.)
A Heat-Proof Punch Bowl
“Oleo saccharum is the base of a good punch. It's a maceration of sugar, citrus peel and spice, typically combined and rested for many hours until the oils in the citrus peels break down the sugar into a rich, flavorful syrup. With Dale Degroff's new copper bowl ($700), you can accelerate the oleo saccharum process by adding a touch of high-proof alcohol and lighting it on fire. This will pull more flavor out of the sugar and spice and give you a toasted flavor as well. The stand keeps the hot bowl off the surface of a counter or bar top, and the steel plated copper retains the heat.” — Julien-Pierre Bourgon of Masseria, Washington D.C.
Orgeat From a Tiki Legend
“Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat” ($45) — The Yeagers
A Sweet Treat
“Negroni Lollipops by Quin Candies ($10 a box), because why wouldn’t you want these?” — Hallsson
The Ultimate Multi-Tool
“This Multi-Tasking Tool by Multi-Plane ($26) opens bottles and has a zester for peels that can be used to grate spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Lastly, it has a channel peeler which is used to make long citrus peel ribbons. Most channel peelers I've used are either too narrow or too thin, or even worse, too wide or too thick. The channel peeler on this device is perfect! It's probably my most-used bar tool outside of my jiggers, strainers and shaker tins. No home bar or commercial bar should operate without one.” — Bourgon
A Serious Ice Machine (and Tools to Use It Right)
“A ClineBell Machine ($5,500-6,300), which is ideal to make your own ice blocks. I would love a set of Japanese made tools to cut the ice with as well!” — Torrence Swain of Bourbon Steak at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, Washington D.C.
A Nut Milk Maker
“Who wants to buy almond milk when you can create your own? With the Almond Cow ($120) I could make it no hassle, in 30 seconds. But you can use the Almond Cow in other ways too, and for my All Saints' / All Souls' day cocktail—which is mezcal paired with local pecan milk—I could make the homemade pecan milk from scratch.” — Walter
A Flower Bed Full of Garnishes
“A nursery to grow ornamental edible flowers for garnish, so we can cut them fresh before each shift.” — Swain
A Vintage Splurge
“Whistle Pig ‘The Boss Hog IV: The Black Prince’ Rye Whiskey ($350-1200): This bottle just sounds so incredible, and I would love to have one of my own. I have a very difficult time paying hundreds of dollars for a single bottle of anything, spirit or wine, so this is perfect for my wishlist. Prices start at around $350 for this, with many places already pushing over $400. Vintages go for $900-$1200, at times.” — Hallsson