The mixologist wasn’t the kid in high school who had an older brother of questionable morals. He wasn’t the one in college with the car, perennially down to make a beer run. The mixologist received his MA in drinking. He makes an event all the more special because of the drink, and not the other way around. He shows you the best Scotches, puts a cocktail in your hand on hot summer days by the pool and passes you an aperitif before fall meals. So get something to reward him for the consistent cheers and red-faced good times. Here are the best gifts for the man who prides himself on making drinks that play center stage from the start of the night all the way through to the end.
Ralph Lauren Metropolis Decanter
When the chef has ditched store-bought entrees for scratch-made courses, don’t let dinner guests stare down the peeling label of your bottle of Scotch. A heavy lead crystal decanter adds decorum when not in use, its concentric-ring cut shattering light into a spectrum on your mantel; during use, it matches any after-dinner drink to the upscale party aesthetic. This one has a 4.5-inch diameter, measures just above nine inches high and can store 32 ounces of your favorite liquid.
Grovemade Brass Key Ring
Skip the utensil-drawer search for a bottle opener with this key-ring option, designed to look great (it’s made in America out of a solid piece of brass) and fit comfortably in your pocket or on your belt loop.
Instead of buying flavored spirits — which has become increasingly, and unfortunately, popular in America — infuse flavors of your preference into your favorite spirit with an “incanter.” Sempli’s gives a mixologist more freedom over the type and intensity of flavoring, allowing for more personalized drinks at cocktail hour. Simply load the borosilicate glass infuser with cut-up fruit, herbs or vegetables and then give the lead-free crystal vessel a twirl.
The Gear Patrol Magazine
The best gift is something that the recipient wants but wouldn’t buy for himself. A basket of pears? No thanks. A trip around the world? Now you’re on to something. While we won’t be bankrolling a trip, we can get you close with Issue #1 of the Gear Patrol magazine, a journey from Wyoming to Chile to Norway (and more), plus product guides and an interview with mountaineer Conrad Anker. Seriously, put down that fruit basket.
Monti-Taste Beer Glass Set
When Danne Semeraro founded Sempli (which also makes the Incanter above), he merged the simple functionality of his native Sweden with the style and elegance he took from design school in Italy. In this set of four lead-free crystal glasses, he turned his attention to American craft beer. Semeraro’s design features clean lines and a conical glass base, helping to release carbonation during pouring. The set includes an IPA glass, which narrows at the center before opening at the rim (heightening aroma and aiding effervescence), a tall classic pilsner glass, and two standard beer mugs, one 12 ounces and the other 16 ounces.
Russell’s Reserve 1998 Bourbon
A bar can be notable simply for having the largest selection around — and a bourbon drinker’s home bar needs the rarest small-batch bourbon ever produced by Wild Turkey. In 1998, Eddie, Jimmy Russell’s son, created a bourbon to commemorate his father’s 45th anniversary as the legendary Master Distiller at Wild Turkey. This release of 2,070 bottles is the result.
Laphroaig 15 Years Old Scotch Whisky
For guests who crave peat, Laphroaig is as good an answer as any. While the 10-year-old made our list for best Scotch under $100 and the 18-year-old expression graced the list for best under $250, the 15-year-old sits nicely in between, maintaining the punishing peat of the 10 with the complexity of the 18, alongside peppercorns, tobacco and light citrus. It also occupies a nice middle ground on price, making it, in its third release, a proper celebration of 200 years of great whisky from Islay.
Mezcal Amarás Espadín Joven
Gifting clear spirits is tricky. They are the workhorse of many mixed drinks, but on their own they often feel bland as gifts. All the better to introduce your home bartender to mezcal, a 500-year-old spirit from Mexico that has gained immense popularity in the US in the last decade. Mezcal Amores, which began in 2010, is an upstart in the mezcal space that prioritizes sustainability, with fair employee wages and a commitment to replant five agaves for each one harvested. This bottle uses espadín agave, a close relative of tequila, that has grown in San Juan Del Rio, Oaxaca for 10 years. Farmers cut out the soft piña (heart) and roast it in a large, conical oven before extracting the sugary juice for fermentation. It’s a complex, smoky spirit that makes a great twist on a traditional margarita.
Hella Bitters Craft Your Own Bitters Kit
The obsessed home bartender will want to make as much of his drink from scratch as he can, and bitters are an easy but not-so-obvious place to start. This kit comes with four glass apothecary bottles, one funnel, one strainer, two infusing jars, and citrus and aromatic blends for adding flavor to reflect personal taste. It’s a major step up from a bottle of Angostura Aromatic Bitters they’d find anywhere.
The Atacama (24×20) – Print
A lone figure walks across the Laguna Tuyasto, a lake bed in the Atacama Desert located 100 miles from San Pedro de Atacama, in the high plateau of northern Chile. Leftover salt hugs the surrounding mountains, swirling with the deep crimson dirt and showing through as pink and tan streaks in the scorching sun.
EuroCave Wine Art
Using a vacuum, the Wine Art preserves two opened bottles for up to 10 days at two separate, adjustable temperatures. That means spreading out the enjoyment of a favorite bottle he’s aged for years — and for the oenophile, that’s a miracle.
Scout Counter Stool
These beautiful bar stools come from a duo based in Brooklyn who focus on contemporary design and ethical sourcing when crafting wood pieces for around the home. The simplicity of the 11-inch-diameter seat resting on 24-inch legs of either red oak, blackened oak, black walnut or heart pine is punctuated by the footrest — a “T” of brass or copper that evokes minimalism and functionality.
William Knife Co. Hammered Bar Knife
William Knife Co. took home the 2011 Made in the South award with an oyster knife, and their Bar Knife looks to continue this Southern aesthetic. The seven-inch knife has a hammered blade and a handle of black walnut (the same as a classic gun stock) trimmed in deer antler for safe and easy cutting or mincing, all with something that’s a piece of art as well as an unmissable bar tool.
Faribault Woolen Mill Co. × Gear Patrol Cabin Blanket
Along with the launch of our magazine, we teamed up with Faribault Woolen Mill to create a premium medium-weight merino wool blanket with a pattern exclusive for Gear Patrol and, naturally, a light touch of our signature orange. It’s the perfect blanket for having a few drinks by the fire on a cold night this winter.
Picobrew Zymatic Brewing Machine
A basic home brewing kit is cheap, but you’d never want to gift someone plastic buckets, tubes and the promise of hours of preparation and cleanup. The Zymatic solves the problem of space, time and expertise for the mixologist who wants to brew the occasional celebration beer. The all-grain, fully automated and computerized brewing machine is about the size of a toaster oven and weighs 50 pounds; it can brew 2.5 gallons of a number of styles in around four hours using pre-programmed recipes, after which the beer is transferred to the included keg for fermentation.
Jack Daniel’s Single-Barrel Barrel-Proof Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s has been offering single-barrel expressions of their Tennessee whiskey since 1997, but this year marks the first release of a barrel-proof version. This is ideal for mixologists: by keeping alcohol content higher, barrel-proof whiskeys keep mixed drinks alcoholic, and also keep ice from turning a whiskey on the rocks into a watery memory of a once-great spirit; barrel-proof whiskey also captures the exact flavors of what years of maturation did to the liquid. This of course comes at the cost of a more limited, and therefore exclusive, production from each barrel — making it a prime gift for a collectors and drinkers alike.
It’s always worth asking, right?
Ghurka Officer’s Bar: From Ghurka comes a bar cart fashioned to fit the aesthetic of a military officer’s tent, where the brass could put a few away in private before facing war — or, in this case, dinner-party guests. The frame is handcrafted from solid American white oak and fastened with custom solid brass hardware, while the tray liners and handles are made of aniline leather, which will develop a patina as the annual holiday parties wear on. It’ll soon become the command center of the night.
More guides and gear to fill out your list
The Best Scotch Under $250
Sherry finishes, peat bombs and decades-old age statements: the best premium single malt Scotch under $250 turns any event into a special occasion.
The Perfect Bar Cart
Alcohol remains an enduring motif in the great American narrative. That’s probably because those that wrote it drank, and drank well — epitomized by the enduring symbol of the most sophisticated of drinking cultures: the bar cart.