Sure, anyone can mix a vodka and soda water, but a true cocktail connoisseur takes pride in carefully mixing a drink with top-quality ingredients, using the best tools and accessories and serving it in style. Some of the best gifts for cocktail enthusiasts’ home bars include mixing glasses, cocktail shakers, DIY cocktail making kits and fancy ice cube molds for those who really love to go all out.
To help those who have craft-cocktail obsessives on their gift lists, we spoke to bartenders, distillers, bar managers and other beverage experts to discover their favorite products and why they recommend them.
Here are 15 of their favorite cocktail-themed gift ideas.
Best Gifts for Cocktail Lovers
Cocktail Kingdom Bartender Kit Satchel
Cocktail Kingdom is known among those in the drinks industry for making some of the best bar tools—probably because the founder owns several bars himself. This stylish and useful bar kit satchel has everything you need to make expert-level cocktails. It includes a handful of stainless-steel tools—a jigger, Hoffman barspoon, Hawthorne strainer annd garnish tongs—plus a Kuhn Rikon peeler and channel knife. They all come in a handsome black canvas and brown leather roll-up.
“More often than not, it’s great to take your cocktail equipment with you to your friends’ houses, to work, on any journey really—this satchel is great,” says Liana Oster, bar director at NoMad London. Now, your gift recipient will have no excuse for not whipping a drink any place, any time.$140 Amazon
Riedel Nick and Nora Cocktail Coupe Glasses (Set of 2)
Named after the fictional detective duo Nick and Nora Charles from the 1933 novel The Thin Man, this martini and coupe glass alternative is a surefire way to up your at-home cocktail game. It’s the preferred glassware of many bartenders because it’s less likely to spill than its counterparts.
“It has a deeper bowl with a more pronounced curve and thinner lip than a coupe, which makes for easy sipping,” adds spirits reviewer and writer-at-large Kara Newman.
$29 Wine Enthusiast
Cocktail Kingdom Mixing Glass
A proper mixing glass is a must for any budding cocktail maker. “My favorite cocktail to make at home is a Classic Manhattan,” says David Giuliano, the beverage director Il Buco and Il Buco Alimentari in New York City. “You have to be able to stir the drink properly, because a Manhattan should not be shaken, nor stirred in metal. Invest in a nice etched glass and it will really elevate their bar cart.” This etched one is not only functional but attractive enough to leave out on a bar cart.$40 Amazon
UME Plum Liqueur
“There are many reasons to grab this bottle for entertaining this holiday season,” says New York City-based cocktail consultant Pamela Wiznitzer. “First, it’s a product founded by women. Second, the color is absolutely stunning and really makes heads turn when you use it in a drink.” Get this bottle for your friend who already has all the bar basics and you’ll really impress them.$35 Total Wine & More
Bittered Sling Bitters
Wiznitzer also calls out these premium bitters, which make great stocking stuffers. They come in surprising flavors like plum, root beer and Malagasy chocolate, each capable of adding new dimensions to any drink.
“Bitters are the ultimate seasoning and flavor providers in our cocktails,” Wiznitzer says, adding that she believes they’re made with the “highest quality ingredients.”$22 The Whisky Exchange
Starfrit Rotato Express Electric Peeler
Artfully peeled citrus and other produce often garnish a cocktail, and when it’s done well it can really wow.
“This machine has saved me hours and hours of work,” says Micah Melton, beverage director of The Aviary and Alinea Group in Chicago. “It can peel potatoes or apples in seconds, and it will turn an orange into a foot-long orange twist at the touch of a button.” Melton thinks it’s great for entertaining around the holidays, adding that “people can use it to make some limoncello or to garnish New Year’s Day Champagne cocktails.”$20 Amazon
Riedel Tequila Glass (Set of 2)
Think you should be drinking tequila out of a shot glass, and a shot glass only? Think again. In general, experts suggest that you sip high-quality tequila from flute-like glasses. Their rounded middles and narrow rims help concentrate spirit’s nose.
“The flutes will preserve the unique and delicate aromas found in agave, which is so important to the overall experience and learning to appreciate the nuances of the flavors when you taste,” says Jenny Camarena, third-generation distiller from El Tesoro Tequila.$24 Wine Enthusiast
If you have a frozen cocktail lover on your list, look no further than the ultimate ice pulverizer, the Vitamix.
Daniel Nguyen, the founder of Sông Cái Distillery, shares that it is “a super versatile secret weapon for any bartender. It can be used to make simple syrups, frozen cocktails or large quantities of shaken cocktails,” he says. “The aeration is superior to using a shaker—try a Ramos Gin Fizz in a blender.” We like the Vitamix E310 for its compact size and 10 different speeds.$300 Amazon
Authentic Mexican Handblown Clear Highball Glasses – Set of 4
Have you, like so many drinkers these days, fallen for the sessionable and refreshing Ranch Water cocktail? You’re in good company.
“Said to have originated as a refreshment among West Texas ranchers, Ranch Water is a simple tequila highball that has grown in popularity to become a summertime staple across the U.S.,” writes drinks writer Dylan Garret.
Give this drink the elevated treatment it deserves with these hand-blown highball glasses, which are made from 100% recycled glass by master glassblowers in the city of Tonalá in the Mexican state of Jalisco.$50 Wine Enthusiast
The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig
If your favorite mixology fiend is building a drinks book collection, this title is a must for anyone looking to go beyond the basics.
As Jessica King, co-owner and operator of Brother Wolf in Knoxville says, “You may have every gadget and spirit known, but without proper instruction it’s all just liquid in cups.” The Japanese Art of the Cocktail is a new standard in fancy drink-making, packed full of legitimately helpful tips and useful techniques.
Oster seconds this recommendation. “Apart from the fact that I am an eternal bookworm, this is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently,” she says. “Masa has always been the King of Hospitality to me; being able to delve into his mind and understand the hows and whys of his workings is a book every cocktail lover should read.”$17 Amazon
Mixology & Craft Bartender Kit
Every bar cart needs an attractive set of tools, but it’s important to make sure they’re actually functional.
“Some sets include tools that I don’t know how to use,” says Elizabeth McCall, assistant master distiller at Woodford Reserve. “This bartender kit has everything you need to make classic cocktails and won’t leave you wondering what all the tools are for.”
The 11-piece set includes a 24-ounce shaker, Hawthrone strainer, spiral bar spoon, corkscrew, muddler and ice tongs, plus two jiggers and two liquor pourers. It also includes a rustic wooden stand to hold everything in one place.$43 Amazon
Dexas ice•ology Clear Ice Cube Trays
Nearly every cocktail expert we spoke with had something to say about ice: its importance, how to produce optimal ice cubes and how to achieve clarity.
“For bartenders both home and pro, the three foundational elements of any cocktail are liquid, glass and ice,” says King. “And while anyone can make ice, crystal-clear cocktail ice is a rare commodity.” She likes these sphere molds for an affordable way to get solid (pun intended), clear ice cubes.$41 Amazon
Custom Ice Stamps
One way to add some serious flair to a cocktail is to use an ice stamp. Mari Howe, a cocktail master in Maui, likes to look for fun and funky ice stamps on Etsy, like this one.
“Using an ice stamp can elevate your cocktail, and the ice, even further. You can customize these stamps any way you want, with your logo, monogram or with a fun or seasonal design,” she says.$14-$65 Etsy
Original Luxardo Maraschino Cherries
According to Giuliano, the easiest way to spot an inexpert cocktail maker is by the cherries they use in their Manhattans. “Nothing outs an amateur faster than putting those other candy-red cherries in a cocktail. They are for ice cream sundaes, not for cocktails!” Save your cocktail enthusiast friend the embarrassment and gift them a jar of authentic Luxardo Maraschino cherries, straight from Italy. Saluti!$20 Williams Sonoma
SuproBarware Bitters Bottles
These beauties will add instant cache to any home bar. “I would definitely gift [these],” says Colleen Cerutti, the general manager at Paradiso Hi Fi in Burlington. “Bitters are essential to every at-home cocktail bar, and these come in beautifully colored crystal bottles that lend themselves to home decor.”$29 Amazon
Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and Dave Kaplan (2018)
“From the minds that brought you Death & Co, Cocktail Codex is hands down one of the most accessible and comprehensive cocktail books out there,” says Nikolas Sparks, head bartender and beverage director at the Wooly in New York City. “I recommend this book to everyone—from friends who like to make drinks at home to seasoned bartenders who want to better understand the anatomy of their drinks. Organized, clear and beautiful, there is something for everyone in Cocktail Codex.”$23 Amazon
Mover & Shaker Chosen One Strainer
If someone on your list is also a Star Wars fan, this awesome Hawthorne strainer is sure to make them smile. Collin Griffith, the beverage director of Corrida in Boulder says, “For the home bartender enthusiast, it can be very hard to shop for bar tool gifts because people typically already have the basics. I love to get people unique barware from Mover & Shaker, particularly Hawthorne strainers. They have a number of cool designs, including this Star Wars-themed one that can add a nice personal touch to the gift.”$45 Mover & Shaker
Published: November 10, 2022