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If you've got a cocktail-obsessed friend or family member, deciding on what gift to get them can be overwhelming. Before you get so stressed out that you're mixing yourself a cocktail or two, we went ahead and put together a list of our favorites with some help from industry experts. From books to bar tools to bottles, here are the best gifts for cocktail lovers.
Best Overall: Cocktail Kingdom Queen Beehive Juicer
Can this be right? A mere twenty-dollar juicer is our "best overall" gift for cocktail lovers? All we can say is this: if you have a cocktail enthusiast in your life who's still using bottled citrus juices for their Daiquiris and Margaritas, they need a manual juicer right now—and ideally a high-quality one, like the Queen Beehive juicer from Cocktail Kingdom, which features a wide enough enclosure to hold the largest of lemons (and even small oranges).
Of all the happy improvements that the craft cocktail movement has bestowed upon the beverage world, perhaps the most game-changing is the contemporary expectation that a well-made cocktail includes juice that is fresh-squeezed, never bottled. There's no single way to up the status of the cocktail lover you know faster than upgrading their citrus game from pre-packaged to fresh, and this brushed aluminum juicer makes an easy and attractive way to do it.
Best Splurge: Vevor Frozen Drink Making Machine
Looking for a surefire way to put a smile on someone’s face amidst the holiday blues? The answer, according to cocktail consultant and educator Amanda Whitt, is frozen cocktails. “A frozen machine is the kind of cheerful gift that someone is unlikely to buy for themselves but that could encourage them to make a fun night around it," she says. "It’s something both a cocktail nerd and their partner or roommate could have fun with, too.”
This 10-liter, single-bowl slushy machine is equipped to make frozen drinks in just 30 minutes. Although compact, it's great for both indoor and commercial use.
Best Value: Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters & Soda
Hard seltzer is great, but have you ever had a zero-sugar, zero-proof sparkling canned apéritif made with gentian tincture? It’s as awesome as it sounds, and we have Hella Cocktail Co. to thank for it. Bitters & Soda can be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing drink at any time of day, or mixed with your spirit of choice.
Available in a pack of 12, the beverages come in flavors like Dry Aromatic, Ginger Turmeric, Lemon Lime and Grapefruit. The company also offers an aromatic canned spritz, which is no-ABV (though it does contain sugar) and is perfectly bittersweet with notes of baking spices and orange peel.
Read Next: The Best Bitters
Best Garnish: St. Agrestis Amaro Soaked Cherries
Amidst all of the (justified) emphasis in today's cocktail culture on the need for fresh juice and gorgeously-sculpted citrus peels, we sometimes neglect to extend the same passion to the preserved garnishes. But a poor garnish can ruin a drink, plain and simple—doesn't matter if it most recently spent time on a tree or in a jar. Take the guesswork out of your cocktail friends' lives by gifting them a bottle of the St. Agrestis Amaro Soaked Cherries.
Wonderfully tart Michigan cherries are macerated in St. Agrestis' signature amaro for twelve weeks, resulting in a bright and boozy cherry with as much flavor as the Manhattan, Last Word or Old Fashioned that it will so ably garnish.
Best Book: Unvarnished: A Gimlet-Eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar
Any lover of high-quality cocktails knows that it's impossible to separate the craft cocktail resurgence of our current era from the foundational bars that made it possible. Eric Alperin’s cocktail memoir co-authored with Deborah Stoll, "Unvarnished: A Gimlet-Eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar," is a juicy, boozy jaunt through the formative days of the high-end cocktail movement of the past two decades, set against the backdrop of Los Angeles' defining craft watering hole, The Varnish.
Detailing his origins as a struggling actor in New York, his collaboration with Sasha Petraske of the inimitable Milk & Honey, and his adventures bringing the craft ethos to Southern California, Alperin's wildly entertaining account of this particular moment in cocktail history takes a deep dive into the behind-the-scenes dynamics of his bar and the nascent movement overall. Featuring equal parts libidinous anecdotes and mixology nerdiness, "Unvarnished" is a must-read for any beverage enthusiast who's curious about all of the twists (and trysts) that result in her expertly-prepared Boulevardier.
Related: The Best Gifts for Bourbon Lovers
Best Bottle: Del Maguey Vida de Muertos Mezcal
Cocktail enthusiasts know how important the proof of a given spirit is to the overall flavor and mouthfeel of a drink, and the use of higher-ABV spirits will often result in bolder and more complex cocktails. After numerous requests from bartenders for a stronger-proof version of their cocktail-friendly Vida mezcal, category leader Del Maguey introduced a new 45 percent ABV expression called Vida de Muertos in the fall of this year. Like Vida, this higher-proof iteration is crafted from mature Espadín agave by Paciano Cruz Nolasco and his son Marcos Cruz Mendez in the village of San Luis del Rio, Oaxaca, and is inspired by the batch that they make for friends and family every Dia de los Muertos.
With its creamy texture and its well-integrated notes of tropical fruit and roasted peppers, Vida de Muertos makes an excellent sipper—but have your cocktail-loving friend try it in a Mezcal Negroni or a Ready Fire Aim, and they'll see firsthand how its assertive flavors add both intensity and complexity in any mezcal cocktail.
Related: The Best Mezcals Under $40
Most Unique: United Sodas of America
If you think soda is boring, think again—we came across United Sodas of America earlier this season, and now it’s a staple in our fridge. Not only are the cans easy on the eyes, but the sodas are organically sweetened and contain just 6 grams of sugar each, and they come in seriously fun flavors.
The United Sodas of America collection is perfect for mixing with various spirits, and you can purchase a 12-pack in any one of its flavors or as a variety or theme pack. Some of our favorites include Young Mango, Sour Blueberry, Toasted Coconut and Blackberry Jam. Best of all, every order ships for free across the country.
Best Experience: Regarding Oysters
Georgette Moger-Petraske is perhaps the best cocktail party host of all time—it doesn’t take much more than a glance at her home bar to confirm. If you’re looking to treat your favorite cocktail enthusiast to a truly unforgettable experience, all you need to do is book a couple of seats at her NYC cocktail salon, which focuses on cocktails from her best-selling book, "Regarding Cocktails," and shucking oysters.
Each ticket includes a glass of welcome Champagne (or a mini Martini), a full-on shucking demo with six oysters, hands-on cocktail mixing (you’ll make two cocktails from the book), delightfully dainty bar bites and a copy of the book to keep. Moger-Petraske does an excellent job of keeping her space clean, and if you want in on the action but aren’t in the area, simply contact her for a custom virtual experience.
We meant it when we said it: if your favorite cocktail-loving friend is still using bottled juices, then the Queen Beehive Juicer (view on CocktailKingdom.com) is an absolute must. But if they're already good in that category, then surprise them with a new addition to the bar like the St. Agrestis Amaro Soaked Cherries (view on AstorWines.com) or the Del Maguey Vida de Muertos mezcal (view on Drizly).
How much lead time do you need to order gifts around the holidays?
Typically, most domestic shipping services recommend getting your holiday gift orders in no later than early-to-mid-December in order to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve. With the supply chain issues currently plaguing all economic sectors, however, you may want to play it safe and get your ordering done even a couple of weeks earlier than that.
Can you ship alcohol from state to state?
Laws governing alcohol distribution in the US are notoriously convoluted, especially when shipping from state to state. If you're someone with the proper licenses to sell and distribute alcohol, then interstate shipping via FedEx or UPS may be possible (although you must advise the carrier your package contains alcohol, a surcharge will be applied to the shipment, and an adult must sign for it). If you're an unlicensed individual, your best bet is to check with your preferred local or online merchant about their shipping policies. Certain states don't allow the receipt of packages containing alcohol from other states, so you may find yourself looking up merchants based in your desired destination state, and ordering over the phone. Good luck!
Why trust Liquor.com?
This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, a spirits writer who's been the happy recipient of numerous booze-themed gifts over the years, and who's proud to say that he's only ever re-gifted two or three of them.
Longtime wine and spirits writer Céline Bossart has tested countless products over the years—between her picks and a handful of ideas from fellow industry pros, this list is sure to cover all of your shopping needs for the cocktail lover in your life.
Read Next: The Best Gifts for Bartenders