I love giving and receiving alcohol-related gifts. But there is one such gift that I would never give to anyone: a flask. The petite alcohol container gets prime screen space on almost every list of Father’s Day gifts and things to give your groomsmen, but the fact that most of those lists gender flasks like GI Joes or Viagra (note to flask pushers: women also like to drink) is not even in the top tier of reasons why you should avoid giving them to anyone.
Flasks have been rendered almost entirely useless in the 21st century. There were certainly times when flasks were necessary: back before liquor stores existed, when the only way you could get a drink was from a decanter in your wood-paneled study or at a questionable saloon, or during Prohibition when illicit drinking was the only kind of drinking you could do. But those problems are gone. Today, drinks are available everywhere from Taco Bell to the zoo.
At best, a flask is a statement piece, a stylish accessory to demonstrate an affinity for a bygone time. It is the monocle of drinking paraphernalia. But at least you can show off a monocle. Flasks are supposed to remain hidden. A statement piece that only appears from your jacket pocket in four second increments doesn’t make much of a statement. And if the person to whom you are giving a flask really does find themselves repeatedly in situations that require surreptitious drinking, there are any number of ways to sneak a drink that are easier to pull off and less likely to result in them getting found out. The old nip in the coffee cup works wonders and doesn’t require a funnel to prepare.
And it’s not just that a flask is not the best way to sip a drink—it’s actually one of the worst ways. Big Flask has done its best to suggest that a flask is an essential tool for campfires and music festivals where they sell $15 beers. But unless someone is drinking alone, the normal six or eight ounce flask is barely big enough to fill an hour, let alone an entire concert or camping trip. And even if it could carry enough, think of the quality of alcohol you subject someone to when you give them a flask. There are a few exceptions, but most flasks are not insulated. More often than not, you wind up with warm whiskey that has been in a jacket pocket all day or hot vodka that’s spent hours snuggly pressed up against a butt in the back of a pair of pants. Drinking warm booze is fate no one should have to suffer.
If you give someone a flask it is almost certainly destined for the back of a drawer or a dark spot in the garage, and if you are currently considering one for your dad or your best man (or maid of honor—we are not here to conform to your flask stereotypes), please get them anything else—maybe that monocle they’ve been eyeing.