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Gifting a bartender a bottle of booze is always a bit of a gamble. Chances are they know their wine and spirits better than you do and they’re likely to be more discerning about what they drink than whichever uncle’s name you pulled in the secret Santa lottery.
So what could you get them instead? We’ve rounded up some drink-related gifts, from cocktail books to glassware and apparel, that would make any professional drink mixer feel special. These are the 13 best gifts for the bartenders in your life.
Bonavita Interurban 1.0L Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
Making Hot Toddies, spiced cider or Irish Coffee? This super efficient kettle touts a one-touch boil function, preset temperatures and custom control down to one-degree increments. An easy grip handle and gooseneck spout guarantee a perfect pour. It’s available in sleek modern shades like graphite and matte black and looks just as chic on a bar top as on a home kitchen counter.
Cocktail Kingdom Stepped Jigger
Your favorite bartender will feel luxurious on the job with this stepped gold-plated jigger based on a classic 1930s design. The jigger comes with a little handle for precise pouring, plus four ridges indicating a half ounce, one ounce, one-and-a-half ounces and two ounces. It must be hand-washed.
Dansko Black Smooth Men’s Walker
“They’re the best industry shoe I’ve ever worn,” raves Underbelly Hospitality spirits director Westin Galleymore. “These shoes are my lower back and joints’ best friend.” These plain-toe, Oxford-style workhorses offer much-needed arch support, stability and slip resistance. They’re easy to clean (just wipe) and also provide shock absorption to reduce aches and pains during long shifts.
David Wondrich Punch Bowl
In his seminal 2010 book, “Punch,” cocktail historian and author David Wondrich notes that the tradition of drinking punch originated hundreds of years ago with English sailors during the era of British East India trade. Tapping into that long history, Wondrich has collaborated with Cocktail Kingdom to create this simple white stoneware punch bowl that features a colorful decal of Thomas Rowlandson’s etching “The Pretty Barr Maid” (1975). It’s the perfect gift for a true cocktail history nerd.
Death & Co Cocktail Codex Box Set
Famed New York City bar Death & Co has published two award-winning cocktail books. Both of them, “Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails” and “Cocktail Codex”—the James Beard 2019 Book of the Year—are now being sold as a limited-edition book bundle for the holidays. The box set, signed by the authors, is available for pre-order.
Grape Juice Mom Holiday Advent Calendar
Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but if you’re gifting early, this customizable advent calendar is a nice option. Just fill each slot with a mini 50-milliliter bottle and your bartender friend will have a fun little surprise each day leading up to Christmas. Grape Juice Mom is a female-veteran-owned company, and a portion of proceeds go toward veteran charities.
Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins
Most cocktail bartenders are familiar with Koriko, the Japanese barware company renowned for quality craftsmanship at an affordable price. This set of two weighted tins (one large and one small) can be used to make two standard cocktails at once. But what most bartenders cite is the perfect fit—the tins join together snugly but separate easily after shaking.
Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler
Ideal as a stocking stuffer, this Amazon bestseller comes in a set of three peelers in various colors. The ergonomic design makes it perfect for both left-handed and right-handed bartenders, while the carbon steel blade stays sharp for longer. Plus, it’s super affordable.
Louis Sel Fleur de Sel
They say bitters are the seasoning of cocktails, but many bartenders love to use actual salt, whether to mix with or garnish a glass. Louis Sel is renowned for his French sea salt that comes in varieties like classic fleur de sel but also those enhanced with aromatic herbs and pink peppercorns.
Norlan Whisky Glass
For bartenders who appreciate thoughtful design (and whisky), Norlan produces a range of high-end glassware that’s “inspired by nature” and “digitally crafted” using state-of-the-art digital modeling. Designed by Sruli Recht in collaboration with legendary Islay distiller Jim McEwan, the Norlan whiskey glass features super-lightweight, double-walled borosilicate glass that has been blown into a unique tumbler-meets-nosing-glass shape. The glasses are optimized for both aromatics and aeration.
OKA Iglus Decanter
Taking its name from the Estonian word for “igloo,” this innovative decanter contains a removable base that can be filled with ice to keep your wines perfectly chilled. The spout features an artistic spiral glass detailing that’s guaranteed to make a good impression at your next dinner party.
Skultuna Sandell Bottle Opener
Any bartender will tell you that a good bottle opener is worth its weight in gold. Goodnight Hospitality partner and master sommelier June Rodil recommends this elegant opener by Skultuna, a Swedish company that was founded in 1607 as a brass foundry. The polished brass tool was crafted by renowned designer Thomas Sandell and inspired by the fictional character Barbapapa.
Sterling Classic Caviar Set
If your gift recipient loves a festive Champagne or Martini moment, why not complete the picture with some classic caviar. Sourced from a sustainable white sturgeon farm in northern California, Sterling’s caviar set features small-to-medium, semi-firm-to-very-firm eggs that range in color from onyx to light brown. Find all the traditional appeal of caviar here, from a robust nuttiness to a buttery finish.