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Wet State’s 2017 holiday gift guide

Five go-to gift ideas for the cocktail enthusiast in your life

Forget stocking stuffers — they key to any cocktail enthusiast’s heart is earned by stocking their bar. And people of all skill levels love a good present.

1.Inspiration

<SaloonBox image>

Image courtesy of saloonbox.com

This is an easy one, right? Someone in your life is interested in making cocktails, and isn’t that enough for them to get started? Absolutely! But no matter if you’re gifting for an expert or an amateur, no one knows everything, so why not start out by giving them some ideas? Books are always an affordable go-to, but subscription boxes are all the rage these days. Most monthly boxes — like SaloonBox ($37.50/month) and Crafted Taste ($100/month) — focus on delivering supplies and specific recipes (largely without the actual liquor needed) to your door, but others, like Flaviar ($20/month membership), allow recipients to try unique or artisanal spirits and ingredients. And that’s not even the end of it! There are tons more subscription services available through Mashbox ($25/month), Orchard Box ($40/month) and Winc (bottles start at $13). Pick one that speaks to you, and the budding bartender in your life will start picking up tricks all year round. For an even more fun twist, why not go for mixology dice? Give ‘em a roll, and these guys will keep the ideas (and the drinks) flowing.

2. The proper tools:

<Bar set photo> Image courtesy of williams-sonoma.com

Just as Batman, the Caped Crusader himself, can’t kick baddie butt without his trusty assortment of gadgets and doodads, the cocktail craftsman in your life can’t get down to business without a sturdy and reliable set of basic tools. Now, any bartender worth his or her (margarita) salt needs at least six staple products: a Hawthorne strainer, a shaker, a mini conical strainer, a set of jiggers, a swizzle spoon, and a muddler. Many of these come in kits or full sets ($79.99, $39.99, $39.95), but if you’re looking for something with a little more personality, these pieces tend to be affordable enough that you can build a custom collection using tools from different retailers ($49.95, $21.99, $19.86, $14.95) — which means your Cocktail Crusader will be fighting crime in no time. And, if they’re really serious about crafting perfect cocktails, surprise them with a mini blowtorch they can use to add more advanced smoky elements to their creations.

3. Quality ingredients:

<Bitters image> Image courtesy of amazon.com

Even the simplest cocktails have to balance two major themes to be successful: added flavor and, of course, alcohol. To achieve the first, the bartender in your life will need an assortment of bitters ($129.90, $97.89, prices of individual bottles vary) and shrubs ($44.79, $32.95, $11.95). And as for the second, spring for a versatile top-shelf product like a nice gin or vodka that they can use as a neutral starting point for multiple flavor profiles.

4. Ice (or anything but):

<Cooling cups image> Image courtesy of theapollobox.com

Even though it’s winter, some of us think that a freezing cold drink will always hit the spot. But adding ice — even if it’s in large chunks that melt slowly ($19.95, $17.95) — runs the risk of ruining the drink your resident mixologist just worked so hard to create. So, why not try something a little out of the box this Christmas? Try one of these babies. Kept in either the fridge or freezer, these cooling cups go for just $24 for two glasses and will provide an out-of-the-box solution for diluted drinking. Or, if your giftee prefers the elegance of fancy cocktail glasses, go for classic whiskey stones ($27.95, $9.95, $8.99), an artistic innovation ($36, $35) or flavor-boosting ice cubes ($16). Be careful, though. Using unfamiliar ingredients like these could curse your cocktail in mysterious ways. We’d suggest giving it a dry run, but then… dry seems counter-productive.

5. Glasses:

<Lowball glass photo> Image courtesy of overstock.com

Even the most perfect, pristine cocktails fall flat if they have to be sipped straight from the shaker. Luckily, glasses come in every shape, size, material, and price range. — just make sure you take the time to think about what drinks your giftee enjoys (or enjoys making) most often. If it’s spirits typically served without clutter (ie. ice and muddled ingredients), you’ll want to go with a standard cocktail glass, whereas drinks with lots of ice, fruit, and herbs call for a highball or lowball glass (the latter of which is great for straightforward, neat drinks). There are tons of specialized glasses out there — snifter, martini, whiskey, hurricane, wine, flute, mule — and only your budding mixologist knows which one is right for them. But with a little research and some light googling, you can get pretty close.

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