Expert-Approved Home Bar Gifts for the D.I.Y. Cocktail Fiends on Your List
We asked spirits expert Shannon Mustipher to hand-pick great gift-worthy tools, gear, and accessories for cocktail enthusiasts looking to step up their at-home drinking exploits.
2020 has been a great year for home bars. After all, if you’re going to be drinking more at home (and let’s face it, who isn’t), you might as well be doing it right. So, if you have any would-be mixologists on your list this year, helping them pull together the ultimate home bar setup is a great gift move.
To help you out, we asked Shannon Mustipher, esteemed spirits educator, cocktail consultant, and author of the book Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, for some advice on the best tools, gear, and accessories for cocktail enthusiasts looking to step up their at-home drinking exploits.
Getting Started: The Complete Bar Tool Kit
CBEC Gunmetal 10 piece Gunmetal Bar Tool SetPrice: $60
Why it's a great gift: "Getting a set of bar tools together can be a time consuming (and intimidating) process, depending on your level of experience. CBEC not only takes the guesswork out of this experience by assembling everything you need to execute cocktails, but delivers it in a sleek, stylish, and bad-ass gunmetal finish."
A Cut Above: When Attention to Detail Matters
Cocktail Kingdom Stepped Jigger, GoldPrice: $35
Why it's a great gift: "It’s no secret that the accuracy of a jigger can be somewhat problematic: without vigorous training and hours of use, it is very easy to miscalculate and under measure. To be fair, being off by an 1/12 of an ox is not going to kill a cocktail (we're only human after all). That said, a stepped jigger helps to mitigate by adding notches within the tool that will assist you in getting your measurements spot on -- and the little handle makes for easier handling, to boot."
Cocktail Kingdom Coco Fine Mesh StrainerPrice: $13
Why it's a great gift: "This humble tool -- think of it like a mini colander, but for cocktails -- performs the critical but easy to overlook task of straining our sitka pulp and ice flecks for sours shaken and served up, ensuring a crisp and clean Gimlet or Daiquiri."
Warren Gunmetal Two Piece Parisian ShakerPrice: $31
Why it's a great gift: "Ubiquitous in the 1920s, this style of shaker remains a staple behind European bars to this day. Its large capacity and heavier weight make it easy to shake (and chill to frigidity) not one or two, but up to three servings of a cocktail, depending on the recipe. Bonus points: It’s hella classy looking too."
Urban Bar Calabrese Mixing GlassPrice: $38
Why it's a great gift: "Created in collaboration with Salvatore Calabrese, a celebrated icon in the bar industry who has earned the moniker “The Maestro”, this elegant and sleek glass -- befitting of his Italian origins -- is as eye-catching as it is functional."
Taking It to the Next Level
Glacio Clear Ice Sphere DuoPrice: $36
Why it's a great gift: "One of the reasons we love going to a bar -- apart from the service and cocktail expertise -- are the details in presentation that are difficult to replicate at home. One of these elements is specialty ice, which is cut not only with aesthetics in mind, but also in functionality. A large cube dilutes at a slower pace, ideally to match the pace of the drinker and to aid in the cocktail or spirit blossoming in a slow, satisfying way. "
Crafthouse by Fortessa Smoking FlouchePrice: $150
Why it's a great gift: "There are skeptics that write off the use of smoke in cocktails as a type of gimmick. I will acknowledge that in less studied hands, the use of this technique is mere show. I will also admit that I am biased: I am a devotee of open flame cooking and love to go camping primarily for that reason. That said, for devotees of whisky, mezcal, fire, and smoke, this is a piece of equipment worth taking a look into."
For Drinking On-the-Go
Viski Belmont 14K Gold Plated FlaskPrice: $45
Why it's a great gift: "Sometimes, we need a personal experience with our drink on the go. There is no shame in this game -- carrying a flask is a personal statement of style with a heavy dose of independence, so might as well reward the risk with a heavy dose of reward."
Hex x Tillit Bartender BackpackPrice: $195
Why it's a great gift: "Created in collaboration with Eamon Rockey, former bar director of the much beloved NYC restaurant Betony and founder of an eponymous milk punch, this bag is built for the bartender who needs to transport not only tools, but bottles. It’s a bit of an industry insider item -- on the outside it looks like a discreet piece of luggage, inside are an array of functional pockets and compartments, with a tool bag insert to boot."
For the Bookshelf
Regarding Cocktails by Sasha PetraskePrice: $24
Why it's a great gift: "I had the pleasure of meeting Sasha a few months before his passing in 2017. Like the man himself, this book is brimming with equal measures of consummate knowledge, wit, and a focus on the essentials of quality -- with no pretension whatsoever. This is an instant classic and a must for anyone that not only wants to get to know the man, but to get to what matters is a well executed classic cocktail."
I’m Just Here for the Drinks by Sother TeaguePrice: $20
Why it's a great gift: "Sother, head barkeep at iconic NYC bar Amor Y Amargo (and host of the bar themed podcast The Speakeasy) is not only a master in the art of making cocktails, but a champion of the bitters and amaro category long before it became popular. He's also a warm and brilliant conversationalist to boot. Pick up this book, and you will not only be thoroughly informed, but entertained as well."
Aperitif by Rebekkah PepplerPrice: $16
Why it's a great gift: "As low-to-no-ABV drinks are gaining more traction in the US, there is no better guide to the way of taking in easy going drinks that assist you in making the transition from day to night than this. Aperitif is not only an informative guide to the drink category, but to the ethos of the culture as well -- relaxing in the company of friends and intriguing strangers alike -- rendered with an enduring and human touch."