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“There are many gifts to choose from other than a simple tequila bottle for the agave lover in your life,” says Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez, founder of the award-winning tequila bar Ghost Donkey in New York City. “There are gifts that can complement their knowledge, bring style to their glassware set, or simply make their home look good.”
The one thing to keep in mind with tequila and mezcal lovers is they are just as much in love with the spirit’s heritage as they are with the liquid itself. “As a general rule I recommend things that support and promote the community,” Jimenez emphasizes. “With tequila and mezcal, it is incredibly important to buy from brands that promote sustainability—not only of the product but of the people involved in the production.”
So skip the shot glasses, and opt for thoughtfully-made gifts that will pair perfectly with their favorite bottles. Below, Jimenez and other agave experts recommend the best gifts for tequila and mezcal fans.
Best Overall: Volcanic Rock Mezcal Flight Tray
“Provide the tequila lover in your life a tasting experience that will blow their mind,” says Casey Jo Holman, a bartender at Compère Lapin in New Orleans. This set includes three stone copitas, the traditional vessel for showcaseing an agave spirit’s unique flavors, paired with a long stone flight tray. The copitas are handmade in the Mexican state of Puebla from stone sourced from the Popocatepetl volcano.
Pour out a variety of different styles of mezcal and tequila and use the flight board to compare and contrast different flavors—or inject some stakes into the proceedings by doing a blind tasting.
Best Book: Finding Mezcal by Ron Cooper
“The tequila lover in your life might be ready to broaden their horizons into mezcal,” suggests Dean Hurst, beverage director for Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa Bay. If so, “'Finding Mezcal' is an accounting of Ron Cooper’s journey to finding this ancient spirit and just might lead the reader to their own moment of discovery.” In the pages, the man behind Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal (who is almost single-handedly responsible for the mezcal craze in the U.S.) gets deeply personal, sharing his decades-long journey into the world of mezcal. The volume also includes some gorgeous photographs, as well as the recipes for 40 innovative and well-crafted cocktails.
Jimenez also highly recommends gifting this book. “This is a great book for lovers of agave spirits. It follows Ron Cooper, a leading voice in the artisanal mezcal movement, on his journey through the land of Mexico and his deep love for the spirit. It’s a must-read for anyone who recently got into mezcal or has been a longtime imbiber.”
Best Bottle: ArteNOM Selección de 1414 Reposado Tequila
Every category of tequila has its adherents, from the bright and zesty blanco to the rich and woody extra añejo—but for many agave enthusiasts, there's nothing like the balanced smoothness of a reposado, which must be "rested" (the translation of "reposado") in barrel for between two months and one year. ArteNOM is a one-of-a-kind series highlighting different tequilas from several master distillers under a single brand, and their excellent reposado from producer Feliciano Vivanco spends ten months in ex-bourbon barrels, resulting in an elegant tequila with nutty, bready, tropical flavors.
"The Vivanco family has been cultivating estate grown blue Weber agave for roughly a century, and the lighter aging on this reposado really lets the tropical notes of their distinct agave shine," says Maxwell Reis, beverage director at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, Calif. "This bottling is additive free and a great recommendation for a veteran tequila drinker, or a beautiful intro to a more obscure bottling for a novice hesitant to branch out."
Related: The Best Tequilas
Best Tequila Glasses: Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glasses
“The perfect gift for every tequila lover and spirits connoisseur this holiday season is a set of the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glasses,” says Roberto Rosa of Gran Centenario Tequila. “Most people have never tasted tequila in a proper tasting glass—usually enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail—but these flutes take the experience of tequila to another level. Designed specifically with tequila in mind, these glasses really open up the liquid, allowing the alcohol to evaporate ever so slightly so that all the aromas can shine through for the ultimate sip and experience.”
Jose Valdez, the Maestro Tequilero of Tequila Partida, agrees. "Good tequila should be sipped, so I highly recommend investing in your glassware. While I'm tasting, either while working or simply enjoying with friends, I love these. The flute glass helps to appreciate the organoleptic properties of the tequila, including the color tone, brilliance, body and cleanliness. The narrow diameter of the glass encourages the concentration of aromas, enhancing the different layers.”
Related: The Best Blanco Tequilas
Best Mezcal Glasses: Cocktail Kingdom Veladora Mezcal Glass
While tequila drinkers in North America opt for shot glasses, agave spirits are traditionally sipped out of copitas, small bowls made of clay or coconut shell—but veladoras offer another respectable option. “While copitas are seeing some hype as the popularity of tequila and mezcal increases (and I do find them beautiful), I find these traditional shot glasses to be easier to store and care for,” says Daniel Villa, a bartender at MILA Miami.
Based on the small glasses used in Catholic churches to contain prayer candles, these vessels are the best of both worlds: they are designed specifically to highlight the complex flavors of mezcal, but can double as shot glasses in a pinch. "If you were to travel throughout Mexico, you would find that bars and even many distilleries use these in much wider abundance than clay copitas,” says Villa. “They'd be right at home alongside some orange slices sprinkled with sal de gusano.” Each veladora measures just under three inches high and can hold 2.7 ounces of agave spirit.
Best Pantry Item: Sal Con Gusano, Agave Worm Salt, and Sal Con Chapulín, Grasshopper Salt
In decades past, cheap mezcal destined for import to the US was packaged with a "maguey worm" (a parasitic larvae of the agave plant) enclosed within the bottle. Although this practice has fallen out of fashion with the rise of more high-end artisanal mezcals that eschew the "worm" tradition, there is still a viable use for the pesky parasites: using their ground-up husks to flavor salts to pair with mezcal. “Traditionally, these spices are sprinkled over slices of orange to be snacked upon in between sips," explains Villa. The dual pack from Sal Mitla features not only sal con gusano (worm salt) but also sal con chapulín (grasshopper salt).
"The worms in particular have a strong sweetness to their character that is reminiscent of agave nectar itself," says Villa. "They contribute a lovely roundness to the salt blend, while the sal de chapulín lends an earthier, spicier note." Jimenez agrees. “Sal Mitla crafts some pretty cool artisanal salt in a variety of flavors to complement mezcal or tequila tastings.”
Best Reposado: Don Fulano
“Finding a great tequila should always be about how the distiller respects the quality of the agave," says Destiny Aragon, bartender at Youngblood in San Diego, where reposado tequila is frequently swapped in for whiskey in variations on classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. The Fonseca family, who have been producing tequila for decades in the town of Atotonilco, Jalisco, utilize a unique dual-distillation process for their Don Fulano line: both an old style double column still and a traditional copper pot still are employed, with the resulting distillates blended together, resulting in a consistently elegant and flavorful tequila.
"For any agave spirit, I like to work with bottles that have a solid history through singular, generational families, and that use properly matured agave," says Aragon. "With flavors of cardamom, allspice, and ripe banana, the Don Fulano reposado is a perfect bottle to gift for the holidays.”
Related: The Best Tequila Under $50
Best Budget: Mezcal: The History, Crafts & Cocktails of the Ultimate World Spirit
“Emma Janzen’s fantastic mezcal book offers a comprehensive journey into the world of mezcal and its impact in the cocktail community through the cocktails devoted to the spirit,” says Jimenez. “It is well-researched and another must for those just starting to learn about the spirit.”
The authoritative, James Beard-nominated book is a guide to the world of mezcal, debunking misconceptions and highlighting some of today's best mezcal makers. In addition to covering an incredible breadth of the spirit’s history, the book brings together insights from the producers themselves, sprinkled with feedback from bartenders across the continent who frequently work with mezcal. As a bonus, some of the top mezcal bars across the United States and Mexico contribute a selection of nearly fifty cocktails that highlight its distinguishing qualities.
Related: The Best Mezcals
Best Agave-Inspired Art: Sacred Mexico Agave Print
“Sacred is a non-profit that aims to improve the lives of the communities where heirloom agave spirits are crafted,” says Jimenez. “You can find some cool prints about agave alongside other products, like copitas and even agave-inspired face-masks.”
The prints pay homage to renowned Mexican illustrators like Jose Guadalupe Posada, who lived between 1851 and 1913. His political illustrations are known globally, and Posada has a reputation of being the “printmaker to the Mexican people."
This print, "Our Lady of Maguey," depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing in an agave plant, with townspeople praying to the agave. The image is blown up via silk screen and printed three feet wide, perfect for the home of any agave-lover. Sacred MX has Posada’s entire agave series.
The agave aficionado in your life probably already has a few good bottles, and maybe even some proper tequila and mezcal glassware—but do they have a set of copitas made with stone from a volcano? The Volcanic Rock Mezcal Flight Tray (view on Etsy) is the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for your favorite agave-head this holiday season.
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.
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. She loves a good Margarita but prefers it in a rocks glass.
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