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What do you get a gin lover “other than more gin?” laughs Crystal Chasse, the beverage director of Talk Story Rooftop at the McCarren Hotel. “Glassware is always a go-to gift that I like to give. I typically like to gift either beautiful vintage glassware that I've found or a really unique modern variety, depending on the recipient. Unique vermouths are another top-notch gift!”
There are gin books, infusion kits and bitters, all perfect for die-hard gin fans. And if all else fails, Jessica Balts, a bartender at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, recommends a gibson-themed gift basket. “I believe a gift basket with a bottle of gin, Bordiga Dry vermouth, and a jar of Sable and Rosenfeld’s Tipsy Onions would be a divine gift.”
That said, "Nothing is going to make a gin lover happier than sharing good gin with good people,” says Jeremy Allen, the beverage director of MiniBar Hollywood. Below, find the best gin-themed gifts that bartenders love.
Best Overall: Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio
If you’ve got a gin fan on your holiday shopping list, chances are good that he or she isn’t averse to the occasional (ok, frequent) Gin & Tonic. The venerable cocktail has come a long way from its 19th-century origins as a medicinal concoction doled out to British soldiers to keep them from getting malaria. These days, there are innumerable ways to spice up your traditional G&T. One option is to experiment with tonic syrup—simply mix the syrup with club soda, and you’ve got a degree of control over the sweetness and intensity that a standard bottled tonic water could never match.
The Tonic Trio from Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. includes 8-ounce portions of the flagship Classic Tonic Syrup, the aromatic Elderflower Tonic, and the high-quinine Extra Bitter Tonic. Made using authentic ingredients like real quinine and cane sugar, these tonic syrups will give your favorite gin enthusiast a truly customizable G&T experience.
Most Unique: Williams Sonoma Gin-Making Kit
Any true gin lover has surely tasted dozens of delicious gins, but how many have attempted to make their own? Definitionally, gin is simply a clear distilled spirit with flavors of various botanicals—almost always including the classic note of juniper berries—plus herbs, flowers, and fresh or dried fruit. But it's the various combinations and proportions of those botanicals that give different gins their unique personalities. The Gin-Making Kit from Williams Sonoma allows your favorite gin nut the opportunity to create a bespoke batch featuring the botanicals that most interest them—all they need to supply is their own bottle of vodka to use as a base.
(Note: since you won't be able to filter out all of the color and fine particles, the final gin will be a bit more "unrefined" than you might be used to. While perhaps unfamiliar, this rustic style shares similarities with certain historical iterations of gin, providing a fun geek-out opportunity for the gin buff in your life.)
Best Martini Glass: Riedel Drink Specific Glassware Nick & Nora
“Nick and Nora glasses are a beautiful way to serve Martinis and they make a great gift,” says Ellen Talbot, the lead bartender of Nashville’s Fable Lounge.
The Nick and Nora glass is named after the fictitious crime-fighting duo (and avid Martini lovers) from the 1930s and 1940s film series based on Dashiell Hammett's novel. “The Riedel Nick & Nora coupe glasses are perfect for a gin lover,” adds Gavin Humes, the director of food and beverage at Scratch Restaurants Group. “They're ideal for showcasing the elegance of a Martini without the awkward and frankly hideous angular Martini glasses, and they have the flexibility to work for virtually any gin cocktail."
For this glass, the famed glassware company partnered with bartender Zane Harris to make a cocktail glass specifically designed to let the ingredients in a Martini shine. “I love them to show off an Aviation or a Last Word," says Humes, "and they're super fun to drink out of!”
Best Bitters: Hella Cocktail Co. Bitters
"One of the coolest things for people experimenting with gin or gin cocktails is the addition of bitters," says Juan Fernandez, the beverage director of The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte. "Essentially a condensed alcohol tincture, bitters enhance properties of spirits.”
The Black-owned bitters brand Hella Cocktail Co. is one of the best in the game, crafting unique offerings like Mexican Chocolate and Eucalyptus. A few drops will bring anyone’s gin game to the next level.
This sample set includes five 1.7-ounce bottles of small-batch bitters, including smoked chili, citrus, aromatic, orange and ginger flavorings. The variety of flavors range from more classic bitters to more experimental options. Use this kit to play around, and purchase larger bottles of the ones you love.
Best Kit: 1pt Gin Lover Cocktail Infusion Kit
Piero Procida, food & beverage director of The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, recommends the Gin Lover Cocktail Infusion Kit from 1pt. "It’s ideal for making craft cocktails at home and learning to infuse different botanicals."
With this easy-to-use kit, gin lovers can infuse their own cocktails with a rainbow of herbs and spices. Follow the step-by-step instructions and add gin to the 17-ounce glass infusion bottle (with a stainless steel filter and walnut-finished wood lid) and add your preferred botanicals. Flavor blends include floral, ginger and elderflower, and lime (with botanicals and edible grasses). Each flavor packet is enough to infuse half a standard bottle of gin. The kit also includes cocktail recipes and a tasting straw.
Best Mixing Glass: Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Mixing Glass
“I love a good Martini, and having a nice mixing glass handy to stir one up makes them all the more enjoyable,” says Blair Bowman, the general manager of Cincinnati’s Khora. “This one by the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. is elegant, stylish and timeless.”
The handsome, striking glass is a pricier option than some, but any Martini lover will love adding this piece to their bar. This 20-ounce mixing glass is blown by hand in Charleston, S.C. The heavy base gives good weight to the mixing glass, while a smooth black rim adds a dose of personality. The glass can hold three or four stirred cocktails at a time. Add a mixing spoon and a jigger for the perfect present.
Best Recipe Book: The Martini Cocktail
“I’m a firm believer that the Martini is one of the most, if not the most, personal cocktails there is," says Hendrick's Gin's Vance Henderson. "It is also one of the most misunderstood. For that, Robert Simonson’s book 'The Martini Cocktail' is the perfect gift for any gin enthusiast, as it covers the drink’s complex history and offers 50 recipes.”
Penned by award-winning drinks writer Robert Simonson, this book delves into the centuries-old history of what we now consider a Martini. There are 50 different recipes collected from bartenders past and present, including famed Martini specs from Dukes Bar at the Dukes Hotel in London and Musso and Frank in Los Angeles.
This is far more than a recipe book, however: it catalogs the evolution of the drink, dabbled with humor and historical fun facts. Even 007 would be sure to learn a thing or two.
Related: The Best Gifts for Cocktail Lovers
Best Book: Gin: The Manual
“There is no shortage of amazing gifts for long-time gin enthusiasts or novice drinkers who are just starting to dive into the spirits world," says Dean Hurst, the beverage director of Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa Bay, Fla. "Nothing is more valuable than the gift of knowledge. 'Gin: The Manual' by Dave Broom is great for the at-home mixologist looking to expand their collection with more niche spirits.”
To rate each brand, over 120 of which are covered in the book, Broom tries the gin four ways: with tonic, with lemonade, in a Negroni, and in a Martini. He then scores accordingly.
Think of this as your gin handbook: the pages are filled with practical advice, tasting notes on popular gins, and historical facts on an array of brands. The history section is exceptionally detailed, taking readers through the colorful history of the botanical spirit, from pirates to illegal stills to today’s gins.
Best Barware: Cole Porter Ritz Glasses
“If you’re going to make an amazing Martini, which I’m positive you are, then a beautiful and versatile set of cocktail coupes are in order,” explains Hurst. “Sure, you can get a set of exquisite Martini glasses — and you should have them — but I’m one for versatility and multi-use when at home. Thus, an ornate set of coupe glasses will serve you wonderfully for Martinis, sour cocktails, and even a cheeky Champagne toast!”
This set of two elevated etched glasses are inspired by Hollywood-era vintage coupes. Each glass holds 8 ounces of Martinis and is hand-crafted in the U.S. by artisan craftspeople.
Best Budget: The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace
“I also love 'The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace' by Tristan Stephenson," says Hearst, "particularly for someone looking for a deep dive in the world of gin.” A gin expert and best selling author, Stephenson completely catalogs the history of gin, from its origins in the Middle Ages to the Gin Craze of 18th Century London.
It’s full of interesting anecdotes about gin, exploring everything from gin’s history as an anti-malarial medication to the herbal genever made by Dutch sailors. Wonderful full-page photos and historical lithographs complete the reading experience. This book is an excellent addition to any bar cart.
Best Vermouth: Lo-Fi Dry Vermouth
If they’re a fan of gin, chances are they love a Martini. And great dry vermouth is a Martini essential.
This Northern California bottle is giving vermouth a face-lift with fresh branding and complex flavors. Designed by Napa’s E. & J. Gallo and Steven Grasse, the fortified muscat-based beverage has beautiful layers of spice and citrus fruits that stand up in a Martini, but also tastes elegant on its own with ice and a citrus twist. The American-made elixirs (Lo-Fi also makes an amaro and a sweet vermouth) are specifically crafted to pair well with American spirits. Try it in a vermouth spritz with citrus, or pour a healthy dose into a 50/50 Martini.
Best Bottle: Gray Whale Gin
Any gin fan knows that a gin's flavor profile has everything to do with its combination of botanicals, but it's not every day that those botanicals are linked by geography and a cohesive narrative. Inspired by the 12,000-mile annual journey of the gray whale along the Pacific coastline, Gray Whale Gin is flavored with six sustainably-sourced botanicals—juniper, mint, lime, fir tree, kelp, and almonds—that hail from coastal sources along the gray whale's migratory path. These botanicals are introduced to the gluten-free corn spirit base during the final of seven distillations, resulting in a smooth, elegant gin with well-integrated herbal, nutty, and citrus notes. Best of all, one percent of total sales go toward environmental causes, including the protection of the world's oceans.
Related: The Best Gins, According to Experts
If the gin lover in your life is a fan of immersive educational experiences, the Gin-Making Kit from Williams Sonoma (view on Williams Sonoma) is a natural, as is Robert Simonson's expertly-researched "The Martini Cocktail" (view on Amazon). If they find more appeal in a purely visceral approach to gin, however, the Jack Rudy Cocktail Trio (view on Amazon) is hard to beat.
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!
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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.
Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, from the best glassware to the best beer cocktail recipes.
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