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Hosting Thanksgiving, or any holiday meal, is no easy feat: there’s planning menus, stocking ingredients, and curating the perfect guest list (or mediating family members). Adding to that is the arsenal of bar tools you'll need—so, we've asked the professionals for help.
“For fall and winter, we need more weighty components in our cocktails to help balance out the cold nights, whether by the fireplace or out in the elements,” says Jeff Josenhans, the director of food and beverage of Garibaldi in San Diego. “Typically during colder months, you will see a change in preference from lighter spirits—like unaged rum, tequila and gin—for aged rum, all types of whiskey and cognac. To complement that you will need both bolder ingredients and barware to boot!”
Stock up ahead of time with these bartender-approved picks of the best Thanksgiving barware.
Crate and Barrel Snowman Double Old-Fashioned Glass
"For added holiday cheer you will, of course, need these holiday-themed Old Fashioned glasses,” says Josenhans. “Having a nice set of glasses you use every year will spruce up your seasonal cocktails, along with a festive garnish such as Douglas fir, fresh cranberries or clove-studded citrus wedges." These 14-ounce glasses are appealing as they’re not overly cheesy, nor are they denominational.
Josenhans also notes these pieces are ones you’ll look forward to using year after year. "Nothing is more exciting than breaking out those holiday items you have been waiting all year to use."
Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee Kit
"As someone who's in the business of service and events, I know that people love to leave an event or dinner party with a take-home item,” says Matt Maretz, a bartender at Employees Only and Grand Army in New York. “This Irish Coffee kit from The Dead Rabbit is such a great gift and comes with practically everything needed to make the world’s best Irish Coffee—just add the Bushmills whiskey and cream.”
Each kit includes two branded glasses from The Dead Rabbit (a frequent winner of the World’s Best Bar), the bar's custom coffee, demerara sugar, nutmeg (and a grater), a jigger and a shaker.
OWO Champagne Stopper
Lydia Richards, the sommelier behind Vino Concierge, always brings a sparkling wine stopper to a party. “These magical little things should be in everyone's bar set and, more often than not, they are forgotten about! Regular cork stoppers simply won't seal the bottle tight enough to keep the pressure in and thus, won't preserve the effervescence of your leftover bubbly." She adds, "They can also be used for still bottles so it's a perfect option to have handy.”
This stainless steel champagne stopper is an excellent pick, which snaps shut to clasp your bottle, sealing in the bubbles for days.
Related: The Best Wines for Thanksgiving
Whip-It! Brand Whipped Cream Dispenser
"I love using my Whip-It! Brand whipped cream dispenser to make unique charged cocktails, foams and infusions,” says Kim Stodel, the bar director of Providence in Los Angeles. “The Whip-It! Brand Flex Torch is a welcome addition to my bar. With this, smoke, flamed twists, charred herbs, and spices are a breeze.”
Outside of drinks, use the dispenser to add homemade whipped cream (like maple or vanilla) to pumpkin pies, Irish Coffees and a rainbow of desserts. The set includes two decorator tips, a tip brush, charger holder and recipe book.
Related: The Best Holiday Barware
Clearly Frozen Ice Cube Tray
"Another thing that can be fun is making different ice shapes and even infusing ice cubes for your cocktails,” says Brandon Hanson, the master blender at Hanson of Sonoma Distillery. “Add the ingredients to water and put in a mold in the freezer, and then you can store them in a bag and use them whenever you need to.” He also says that infusing "rosemary, thyme, citrus peels, and a number of other things to the cubes add some complexity and creativity to your cocktails.”
Andy Printy, the beverage director of Chao Baan in St. Louis, loves this ice cube tray in particular. “This tray makes directional freezing a snap in your home freezer. You can even add fruit or edible flowers to really up the presentation."
Related: The Best Ice Cube Trays
Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
"Bittercube is hands down my favorite bitters to use in cocktails!” says Alison Adkins, the bar manager of The Stanley in Charlotte, N.C. “Their quality and taste are always on point and this one is no exception. It plays well with so many cordials and spirits. The bitters are complex, yet subtle enough to add just that right amount of edge to your holiday cocktails.”
Lynnette Marrero, the co-founder of Speed Rack and bar director of Llama Inn and Llama San in New York, agrees. "The holidays are about making things easy, so step up your favorite classic cocktails with seasonal and culinary bitters. Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters are perfect in cocktails that go with all the Thanksgiving treats.”
Related: The Best Bitters
Riedel Ouverture Wine Glasses, Set of 12
"I am very into stemware because I think it makes all the difference in the drinking experience,” says Todd Johnston, the beverage director of Marsh House in Nashville. “As someone who doesn't mind spending money on killer wine, I would like the glass I am drinking out of to match the vibe and expression that the wine is able to offer.”
He adds, “Riedel makes solid crystal glassware starting at entry-level and affordable to high-end pieces that can definitely offer elegance to your drinking experience.” These options are Riedel’s universal glasses, which are the perfect vessels for everything from delicate Champagnes to bigger Barolos.
Cocktail Kingdom Leopold Jigger
"These jiggers are such a great addition to your home bar,” says Drew Lucido, the beverage manager of Tempus in St. Louis. “The stainless steel construction gives it a great weight and the banded design gives it a great look for your bar top. With its ¼-ounce and ¾-ounce markings in the interior, you can ensure proper proportions with just one jigger.”
A bartender favorite, Cocktail Kingdom's double-sided jigger lets you measure out 1- and 2-ounce pours with ease. Plus, the handsome copper-plated finish (inspired by the company's vintage jiggers) looks great sitting on a bar cart.
Cocktail Kingdom Threaded Bitters Bottle
"A bitters bottle at home is a must for me, best for accuracy and streamlined organization,” says Beau du Bois, the bar and spirits creative director of Puesto in California.
Josenhans adds, "The holidays are a great time to switch up not only the spirits you have been using for most of the year, but the workhorse ingredients which make up the rest of the cocktail. Pairing holiday bitters with winter-friendly spirits will certainly make a big impact on your at-home bar.”
But instead of a bitters bottle, pour the liquid into an antique-style bitters dasher, like this 3-ounce option from Cocktail Kingdom. Not only is this an elegant addition to a Thanksgiving bar cart or table, but the dashtop dispenses bitters with ease.
Cocktail Kingdom Georgian Punch Glasses
"Punch is the perfect choice for holiday cocktails,” says Lucido. “You can make them beforehand and store them in the refrigerator until your guests arrive.” If you plan on making batched cocktails for Thanksgiving, pour them in Cocktail Kingdom's petite punch glasses. Inspired by Georgian-era stemware, this set of four, 3-ounce glasses are dishwasher safe.
Chantal Tseng, a certified sommelier and co-founder of Redeye Menus (a social dinner club in Washington, D.C.), adds her co-sign. “They doubly function for communal punch service and as the ideal vessel for an end-of-the-meal sipper. I use them for cordials, amaros, digestif cocktails, and of course, richer sherry."
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years (and making Hot Buttered Rum at family gatherings for far longer).