Christmas Shopping Guide
… Here Are A Few Holiday Home Bar Gift Ideas
Here are just a few off-the-beaten path suggestions on what to get your home bartender this Christmas or holiday season. When I flip through catalogs or pop by little shops and stores, the little things for the home bar always grab my attention. If you have a little home 80 proof oasis where you and your loved ones like to throw back a few, take a look at the following. Hopefully they or you will be able to unwrap in the a.m. and use to unwind in the p.m.
Victorian Martini Shaker – Click on the link to The Victorian Trading Company for an absolutely gorgeous etched shaker and four glasses set for under $50. Glass shakers rule in my book and this one is pretty enough for the living room yet functional enough for the top of the basement bar — a steal with the glasses at this price.
Gibson Girl Tumbler Set – I’ll stick with The Victorian Trading Company for one more pick and point out these very nice cocktail conversation pieces. Truly the first American pin-up girl or even super model, artist Charles Gibson’s late 19th to early 20th century illustrated beauties had to be the first girls gabbed about down at the local watering hole. You can get both a tall and a short set combined for under $30. You can also buy the four-glass sets separately.
Christmas Beer Book – This hardcover book is just loaded with old seasonal beer ads, brewery pics, funny tales, recipes (both for food and suds), and tips. If you have a beer fan on your list, I think this is one heck of a unique book to give. While you’re at Bud’s site, check it all out. There are some great gift books throughout it.
Pink Panther Tiki Sets – These are just so cool I had to mention them. If you’re at all into tiki or have a person to buy for this holiday season who is, check out all these fantastic, retro tiki items featuring the old Pink Panther characters from Blake Edwards’ wonderful Pink Panther movies or the cartoon show from the early 70’s. This is the kinda stuff you kick yourself for not buying when you go back to the site and it’s gone-baby-gone. You’ll find mugs and scorpion bowls perfect for summer rum and juice combinations. Check the whole tikifarm site out while you’re there.
A One-Year Membership To The Museum Of The American Cocktail – Still waiting for my wife to take the hint on this one, I’m going to have to bite the bullet this next year and join myself. The 15% discount on all their wonderful cocktail books should be enough, but you also get discounts on the Museum’s numerous seminars, members-only web access, a newsletter, and a cool little card for your pocket. After a year as a member, you’ll know what you’re doing behind the bar.
A Mix & Match Basket of Bitters, Syrups and Mixers From The Fee Brothers – Four generations making flavor for your drinks, I’d say The Fee Brothers know what they’re doing. I make a lot of drinks, and my bar fridge is stocked with their products. Take a look at their wonderful selection, throw together a boxed set and have the giftee mix you a beautiful drink.
Gas Pump Retro Liquor Dispenser – Not ashamed to say “I own one,” and I love my semi-tacky, kind of cool, looks great on a home bar filled-with-bourbon Gas Pump Dispenser. It holds about a fifth. I wouldn’t put my top-shelf booze in it but for my mixing bourbon, she pours just fine. Make sure your friend or family member has the “right spot” for one, and buy it. Booze-pouring-fun is what it is.
Fluted Whiskey Shot Glasses – They’re getting harder and harder to find in bars. I guess that shots just aren’t as popular as they were when I was coming up. You don’t want those cheesy little shot glasses, with some bad amusement park logo printed on the side sitting on your home bar. When you or a guest wants a Boiler Maker or just a shot of premium whiskey, you want a heavy shot glass in your mit; a shot glass that reminds you of the alcoholic commitment you’re about to make. Here’s a link to some beauties that you can get etched with a letter. You’ll need two of these … unless you plan on drinking sweet girlie drinks your whole life.
Cherry Pitter, a Couple Mason Jars and a Bottle of Maraschino Liqueur – If you have a Manhattan fan on your list, get them something they can really use. Making your own cocktail cherries is the next step for the home bartender. I marinade a big batch of pitted Bing cherries as soon as they hit the market. They’ll keep in your bar-fridge for up to six weeks. Your friend can even freeze a bag of cherries and make cocktail cherries in the winter months, too, when cherries in the grocery stores cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Seems kind of a simple gift but trust me, it’ll be one they use. This is the cherry pitter I use. You don’t even have to stop at cherries; cocktail olives await the craftsman, too.
Old Radio Shows – I have a huge collection of old radio programs from the 40’s and 50’s, and I love nothing more than to pour a fat, Bourbon on the rocks, plug in the tree and loose myself for a couple of hours in simpler times. If you’re a fan of Mr. Booze, then chances are, you’re a fan of many things out of date. Classic cocktails, old barware, vinyl jazz, you know as well as I do that these things all add up to wonderful evenings. Radio Spirits is simply the best site that offers these slices of the past. A bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon and a CD collection of old Christmas Radio Programs would be a great gift. Check out the entire site while you’re there, but here is the Christmas home shows page.
Pink Elephant Cocktail Towels – This is the kind of stuff you just can’t find anywhere. For the home bar aficionado, a set of these would make a perfect gift. Pouring drinks is messy work; you’re slopping and dribbling and splattering … and then you have to sober up and get behind the bar. A Pink Elephant bar towel over your shoulder while pouring drinks makes a strong statement; you’re telling your guests, I drink too much, I see pink elephants on occasion, and I’m in charge. You have to check out the Retro Redhead’s site while you’re there.
Mr. Booze Tee Shirt – What…you think I wasn’t going to plug our own stuff? Have another drink. You know who we are, how hard we try, how much fun all our cocktail information is, so spread the word. Go to the www.Mr-Booze.com home page and order a few of our tee shirts. This train is leaving the station, best be on board as a charter member. The first of-age person I see on the streets sporting a Mr. Booze tee shirt (that I don’t know, sorry Ma), I’m handing a bottle of Rye to. Help spread the word and look cool at the same time. Make a statement. “Yeah, I drink, so what?”
Subscription to Imbibe Magazine – I’ve mentioned this mag over in our “The Vibe” page but feel it deserves a shout-out here. This is the best cocktail/drinking magazine out there. If you know a drinker, a subscription to Imbibe will only help. Dozens of recipes, liquor reviews, bars, nosh, beer and more make this 6 times a year publication a hot pick.
Ice Crusher – Don’t you get tired of just cubes in your drink? Like I say, “cold is king,” and cracked or crushed ice in a shaker, pitcher or cocktail work so much better at getting the concoction cold than 6 or 7 cubes from an ice tray. The Metrokane Retro Ice Crusher is what I have on my bar at home. Twist handle ensures that you can still make drinks in the event of a power outage, thank god. I use mine for everything liquid; shakers, hi-balls and Mint Juleps especially.
Big Blue Dot Martini Shaker – Even if you don’t want to buy one, click on the site link to see how cool-looking this blue glass and chrome shaker is. A Martini is special, so why not remind your guests of that as you mix one up. This shaker need not be put away after an evening’s over. You can easily just leave her right up and out on the bar. Retro and modern classic at the same time, I just now ordered one. At 20 ounces, you can make a few drinks in this one. A nice statement to make while you’re shaking behind the bar. Martiniart.com is a great site, so explore a little while you’re there.
Beehive Mini Cocktail Shaker – I own this one, too. I hated dirtying up my large chrome and glass shakers every time I wanted a drink. When I stumbled upon a mini, twelve-ounce cocktail shaker at a Pottery Barn ten years back, I snatched it. When you just want to come home from work and mix a quick Manhattan up before starting dinner, this mini shaker is perfect. Sometimes you just don’t want three drinks (I know, I know, that’s a rare thing). The beehive shape feels great and tight in your hand. Remember, the 12-ounce is the small one.
A Real Home Bar – Well, it is Christmas. I talk enough about them, and even though I recommend finding yours at a second hand shop or estate sale, I realize that there are many of you out there that like your stuff new. Here’s a selection of great home bars, and they look slightly more fun and unique than the tried-and-true, conservative bars you’ll find at the established boring Home Stores.
Tin Signs – If you know someone who’s setting up a little drinking corner in some spot of their home, reproduction, tin signs can look really great around the bar. I like a mood set when I’m bending my elbow; the right sounds, lighting and these old, nostalgic tin signs help in the removal of the stress of the day. Don’t go with the obvious — the signs that everyone might have. Try and find art that says a little something about the mood of the host and his or her place.
Toon Tumblers – Here’s a whole company devoted to tumbler glasses with pictures of your favorite classic cartoon and super heroes printed on them. I’m not saying that the glasses should be used for a swank, cocktail party, but they’re perfect for the fanboy drinker who wants to enjoy a beer, Plantation Punch, or tiki beverage in something fun for a change. There are way too many characters to list; take a look for yourself.
Old-School Pilsner Glasses – Back in the day, when you walked into a cool, dark bar on a hot summer day and ordered a beer, chances are it was served up ice cold in a V-shaped, pilsner glass. Gone are those days, but you can still find retro pilsner glasses. I found a Miller High-life set and an old Budweiser logo set at this Betty’s Attic site. Take a look ‘cause they’d sure look cool sitting on a bar tray on top of your home bar. They’ll take you back, that’s for sure. A glass of beer after cutting the lawn poured in one of these babies…man, that’s livin’.
Well, there you have it — twenty solid and boozy ideas for Christmas and holiday giving. On top of these ideas, I’d suggest using your imagination. If you go on ebay, you’ll find retro-serving trays, ice buckets, stemware, and frameable bar ads. If you have a friend who’s a fan of cocktail culture, there are tons of old-school cocktail gifts that just aren’t being made anymore. You can give the gift of a cocktail class or symposium that is springing up in practically every major city. At www.Mr-Booze.com, we’re getting ready to roll out some of our own home bar-related items, so keep us in mind too. Also, be sure to check out our lists of Christmas cocktails and swank holiday music. Have a merry one.