Gift ideas for budding home bartender
Looking for ideas for wife, who has great taste and natural mixing talent and curiousity. I'll be grateful for any ideas, but was guessing in the areas of books, tools and ingredients. We have all the basic tools already and are not looking for expansive, drink-specific glassware collections :-)
Thanks in advance!
Bitters are always fun. There's a huge variety out there these days that would be perfect for the curious budding bartender, if you don't already have a bunch.
Books are nice too. Here's a round-up of some of the best cocktail books according to Food and Wine. For the well-stocked bar and adventurous drinker, I'd recommend the PDT Cocktail book (assuming you already have the basics covered). In the ideal world, you'd go to a store like The Boston Shaker (Somerville, MA) to browse through the books to get a feel for them.
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Here's a few ideas.
Beachbum Berry Remixed by Jeff Berry and some rum or BG Reynold's mixers if she hasn't tried Tiki yet.
PUG muddlers are always nice.
And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis and Boozehound by Jason Wilson are two books I enjoyed that have interesting stories with a smattering of recipes.
For ingredients it really depends on what you have and what she likes to make, but I think a bottle of Chartreuse would make a nice gift if you don't have any.
I second all of those.
The PDT Cocktail book is a lovely book full of interesting drinks, but most of them can be a bit of a challenge to make, as they call for homemade tinctures and infusions, as well as frequently using a lot of off-the-beaten tracks types of liqueurs like strega, aquavit, and genever. Then again, it's that sort of originality that also makes it a really interesting read, if nothing else.
re: The Big Crunch
I will third the PDT idea as well. Even if you never make any of the drinks it is a great read. Also consider a unique liquor or liqueur. If your wife is favors rum or bourbon get a her a rare or higher end choice of one of those than usual. Same for liqueurs. You could get a range of orange liqueurs, such as the pierre ferrand, clement creole shrub and the mandarine napoleon.
I would really check out some of the items offered on cocktailkingdom.com
They have some very nice tools, beyond the basics--or just nicer, that really make the process of making drinks a pleasure. If she doesn't have a good shaker set up of some kind, I would start there, but a nice mixing glass, spoon, or strainer would also be appreciated. They are also offering an ice ball maker that I've been eyeing. It appears to be a knock off of some others I've seen but offered at the (relatively speaking) reduced price of $150. That's pretty specific, but if you (or anyone) gets it, please post your experience, as I'm curious if it works well. Good luck!
I had another thought. Radical as it is, you might benefit from an actual conversation with a knowledgeable human to discuss your wife's preferences, what you already have, and so forth. You could then come up with some books, tools, or ingredients.
Cocktail Kingdom (www.cocktailkingdom.com) lists a phone number on their website, although they don't have a brick-and-mortar store. The Boston Shaker (www.thebostonshaker.com) has a real store (walking distance to my house) and would definitely be able to help and ship goodies to you. If you aren't sure of what you want, why not avail yourself of some personal shopping expertise.
All the above ideas are good ones. A good stocking stuffer would be a channel knife if she doesn't have one, so she could make lemon twists and the like. I personally can never have enough varieties of gin. Each one is so different. any premium gin she is currently missing would be appreciated, I'll bet. Or if all she has are the london dry and plymouth styles, maybe an old tom our genever, or another unique gin, such as St. George rye gin, might be a good choice. Speaking of rye, that spirit is a staple of classic drinks, second only to gin. If she currently has no Cocchi Americano, buy her a bottle. Makes for a wonderful Corpse Reviver #2, and she will find other wonderful ways to use it. Cointreau is the most used liqueur in a bartender's arsenal, so I always appreciate receiving a new supply. And I always love receiving any good quality liqueur I don't currently have.
I would recommend the book - Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff. I like it much better than PDT, which I enjoyed browsing but hardly ever go to when I'm looking for a new cocktail.