Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Cocktail and Spirits Lover: 2011

It's that time of year again, so I thought I'd provide a few updates in the area of holiday gift ideas for anyone that is still hunting for that perfect gift.  I stick by the suggestions I made in my post last year, so rather than go through in quite so much detail, this time around I'm going to focus on new, or newly discovered, products that have caught my eye as gift ideas.

There have been several worthwhile reads that have caught my eye in this past year.  Perhaps tops among them is the The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy By Jim Meehan (Cocktail Kingdom, The Boston Shaker, Amazon).  This book is a cocktail compendium from one of the most celebrated bars of the so-called cocktail renaissance, a good buy for a beginner or seasoned vet of mixing drinks.

Another general cocktail book that debuted this year is a first from the editors of Imbibe magazine, The American Cocktail: 50 Recipes That Celebrate the Craft of Mixing Drinks from Coast to Coast (The Boston ShakerAmazon).  There's also the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide that's worth taking a look at (The Boston Shaker, Amazon), and which you can also get signed by editor Jonathan Pogash at the Boston Shaker this Sunday, Dec. 11th, from 1-3pm (the signing will also include a signing of Bloody Mary, by the author and Mr. Boston editor Jonathan Pogash's father, Jeffery Pogash - ).

For something a bit different, you can try Bitters - A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons (The Boston Shaker, Amazon).  This book combines a bit of history with a wealth of recipes for homemade bitters, classic and modern drinks highlighting bitters, and even foods featuring bitters as an ingredient.  If you want to make this gift extra special, the author is doing a book signing at The Boston Shaker on Dec.17th. from 2-4pm (according to the facebook page for the event, you can also buy a copy of the book online and in the notes request that it be held and signed by the author to be picked up after).  They are also selling the book bundled with a set of bitters!

Last, for someone that might appreciate a bit of reading on the historical side, there's America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo (The Boston Shaker, Amazon).  This book provides a witty look at the institution of the american tavern and its kin.  A good read for a history buff (like me!).

Ingredients and Garnishes
It's no secret that Luxardo maraschino cherries are the bee's knees.  But, if you have a Manhattan lover that might want to try something a bit different and also very tasty in his or her Manhattans, there's Barker & Mills Bourbon Vanilla Cocktail Cherries (via The Boston Shaker).  Yum!

If you know someone that might be interested in exploring the world of old school soda fountain recipes (or to experiment when it comes to cocktails), The Boston Shaker now sells two exciting products to help out:  Extinct Acid Phosphate and Lactart.  I did an earlier post with some mention of how these can be used, but for the full explanation, check out Darcy O'Neil's site Art of Drink, or pick up a copy of his book Fix the Pumps (Amazon).

Bitters are always fun to collect, and there's always new ones coming out, so never hard to find something someone doesn't have.  You can simply check out The Boston Shaker and/or Cocktail Kingdom and find a wealth of different options.  Also, in addition to some fun sets I've mentioned previously, The Boston Shaker has several different sample size sets from Scrappy's that are worth checking out for some variety (here, here, and here), along with some packaged sets that they sell.

For carbonated water needs, my go-to is the Soda Stream.  However, just to throw out an alternative (don't have experience with it myself), Isi has put out the Twist and Sparkle, a product designed for carbonating water and other liquids using Isi CO2 chargers.  My bet is the Soda Stream is more economical in the long run, but the Twist and Sparkle bills itself as an alternative that uses less counter space.

Another cool, but more pricey idea for the cocktail enthusiast that has it all is a set of Blue Blazer mugs from Cockatil Kingdom.  Essential for your flaming beverage transfer needs.

Hopefully that gets you started.  Cheers, and Happy Holidays!


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