Gifts for Drink Lovers
Let's raise a glass to the connoisseurs who've ushered in a new golden age of alcohol. They're the ones you have to thank for the craft beers that now pepper the draft list of every watering hole in your ‘hood, for the holiday parties lubricated with Manhattans in lieu of cloying punches.
Yeah, you were probably going to move beyond the Malibu eventually, but watching your buddy casually mix an expert Negroni certainly hastened the process. It’s time to return the favor. Ahead, we’ve assembled the season’s best gifts at every price point for the beer nut or mixology nerd in your life.
This year, Travel + Leisure is offering its most comprehensive gift guide ever. The goal? Make sure you can find the perfect present for everyone (yes, even your mother-in-law) on your list. Below, our top picks for the cocktail geek in your life.
Bitter Truth Traveler’s Set
This sampler contains five 20 mL bottles of flavored bitters, so your boozehound pal can still whip up complex concoctions while traveling. Even if they’re not the type to pack a full minibar toolkit for a trip, the tiny containers are a great way to sample unique bitters varietals like celery or Creole without committing to a full-size bottle.
To buy: amazon.com, $30
Areaware Drink Rocks Shapes Set
This sculptural set of multicolored soapstone and marble whiskey stones is lovely enough to warrant a permanent spot on any cocktail geek’s bar cart. When you’re ready to chill a few fingers of Laphroaig or cool a cocktail without watering it down, a short stint in the freezer will get these stones down to temperature and keep a drink cold for far longer than your run-of-the-mill ice cube.
To buy: uncommongoods.com, $30
Backcountry Beverages Carbonator Bottle Starter Kit
For your pal who loves both a well-mixed drink and getting away from it all, this kit will be a new on-the-trail staple. This kit comes with supplies for making five staple soda flavors—ginger ale for a post-hike Moscow mule, perhaps, or cola for a Cuba Libre—or you can pick up separate beer concentrates and kick back with a cold one after that hike.
To buy: amazon.com, $30
Two-inch Cube Tray
An oversized cube tray is one of the most affordable ways to instantly improve your drinking game. These two-inch cubes have less surface area than your average freezer ice, so they’ll melt more slowly—just what you want when drinking a high-end whiskey that could use a drop or two of water to open up the flavors without diluting your drink. It’s made of lightweight, flexible silicone, so it’s easy to smush into an overfilled suitcase for a cabin weekend.
To buy: amazon.com, $13 for two
IceMule Classic Cooler
Bulky plastic coolers are—well, bulky—but those portable cheapo cooler bags will leave you with lukewarm drinks and a puddle of meltwater in just a couple hours. Snag this backpack cooler instead: It’s soft and easy to haul, and the drybag-style rolltop closure will keep warm air out and icewater in. Along with packing any perishables, your recipient can stir up a batch of his or her favorite cocktail and kick back on day two of camping with a perfectly chilled Negroni—when we tested the bag, ice packs stayed frozen for 48 hours and cool for another couple days.
To buy: amazon.com, $60 for 15L size
Don’t bother lugging bottles and cans when you’re heading out of civilization—nothing will cramp your style on hour eight of hiking or mile 80 of cycling faster than a rattling backpack full of empties. Instead, fill up this growler with 64 ounces of your favorite brew or batch cocktail: Its vacuum seal and foam insulation will keep your drink of choice cold and carbonated for multiple days. And it’s rugged enough to withstand a few knocks over the course of your adventuring.
To buy: amazon.com, $35
Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic
The stuff with the yellow label is fine for run-of-the-mill G&T nights, but for travel, you need something better than bulky bottles that lose their fizz within a couple hours of opening. That’s where this tonic concentrate comes in: A whole bottle can make over 20 cocktails when stretched with seltzer, or you can decant into a travel size for mixing up better drinks in transit.
To buy: amazon.com, $20
Amidst all the good cheer and brotherly love, it’s easy to forget that the holidays are a competition. If you want to win at Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanza’a, or Festivus), wrap up one of these for the seltzer-lover in your life. In addition to having seltzer on demand, it opens up the door to experiment with all kinds of flavor concentrates to use in cocktails in lieu of bottled sodas (pair it with the tonic above for extra credit). And since it comes with reusable bottles, it’ll revolutionize your drinking buddy’s DIY mixology game and save the environment.
To buy: amazon.com, $100
Mixologist Sasha Petraske helped kick off a cocktail revolution when he opened speakeasy Milk and Honey in New York City 16 years ago. The bar industry giant passed away at just 42 years old, but his legacy lives on in a new collection of cocktail recipes, out this October from Phaidon. This sleek little volume, packed full of staple recipes and inventive new takes, will quickly become a best-loved reference book for any arbiter of spirits.
To buy: amazon.com, $30