For the Craft Beer/Cocktail Companion — A Gift Guide

As a kid, I loved crafts. I truly couldn’t get enough of popsicle sticks that were dripping with Elmer’s white, runny glue and glitter. There was so much potential. So much whimsy.

It turns out that as an adult I continue to foster a love for crafts: craft beer, craft coffee, and craft cocktails, for instance. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit. I, like many of my friends (and yours, I’m sure), aspire to have a flourishing home bar with many tools and trinkets and bottles to boot.

Giving gifts to craft beer and cocktail lovers doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some of my recommendations:

Let’s start with some literature, shall we?

  • The Complete Beer Course – Do I need to type a description here? I think the cover saison you need to know (that was a bad beer pun).
  • The Canon Cocktail Book – Canon is one of the BEST bars in Seattle, not to mention the U.S., and they’ve just put out a cocktail recipe book! If you want to step up your game then THIS is the way to do it.
  • The 12 Bottle Bar – Buy this book and make a night of it! Stock the bar. Learn to make cocktails. This is a great pick for those people in your life who are bound and determined to get into home bartending but juuuuuust haven’t found the time to start yet. (Spoiler alert, the time is now.)

[Side note: this book is great because it not only teaches you about the basics of a home bar, but also how to maximize those basics. My boyfriend and I have been making our way through it this year and it’s been awesome!]

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Another good place to start with gift giving is with the essentials, and for a home bar, bar tools are just that. Whether you are giving to someone who is looking to beef up their tool kit or perhaps someone who wants upgrade their collection with pieces that have more personality and pizazz, there are a lot of options out there and plenty of places to look.

Specific individual tools could include:

  • A muddler (customize it!)
  • A strainer for a cocktail shaker
  • Jiggers
  • Bottle openers
  • Etc.

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Beer Brewing Kit from Midwest Supplies

Home brewing is America’s new favorite hobby, but how does your Lager-loving dad get started? With a beer brewing kit of course! While I’m not an expert in the topic  THESE GUYS are and they can help you find the kit you need. [Pictured above is their top recommendation for a beginner].

For both the traditional and adventurous mixologists in your life, bitters make great gifts and also great stocking stuffers. What even are bitters? Bitters have a lot of purposes, but for the sake of this post: Bitters are punchy, flavorful liquids that are made from herb/botanicals. Just a few drops can drastically change the taste of anything they are added to. For example, and Old Fashioned would not be an Old Fashioned without bitters (Angostura, to get specific).

These from Scrappy’s, a Seattle brand, are some of my favorites. [Their website is down right now, but just do a quick internet search for “Scrappy’s Bitters” and you should find what you need]

And finally, a few trusty gifts for the ones in your life who just like to kick it with a cocktail in hand. Any of these will be phenomenal additions to that stylish new bar cart:

  • Cocktail Shakers* – These are everywhere, for everyone.
  • Unique barware* – Cocktail glasses come in many shapes in sizes, but all serving the same purpose: to make your drink taste its best. They also come in many different patterns, colors, and with different metallic rims (did somebody say rose gold?). Think about which cocktails are most popular with your buddies and start with some glasses made just for that.
  • Cool coasters* – Guys, where there’s a drink there’s a risk for a cup ring! Coasters, obvi. Everybody needs more coasters (especially cool ones).
  • Interesting ice molds – Ice plays a huge role in the cocktail world. The shape and cut of ice can determine the way a drink tastes, looks, and lasts. Molds are available in traditional shapes as well as quirky shapes—like Death Stars — and even in kits that allow you to manipulate the ice into whatever form you need.[While the kit above seems a little bit superfluous, I think we all know that we have a friend who will be MAJORLY STOKED on it. The crew at Wired seems to think so, too.][Why didn’t you include any of those trendy stones? While the stones and rocks available are less likely to dilute your drink, my friends have found that they are also less likely to get as cold as you might like.]
  • Decanter* – Because bar carts look even cooler when the booze is on display in sleek glass bottles. These are great for liquor or wine (see, I haven’t ENTIRELY neglected the winos).
  • Import booze from abroad — Maybe it’s the specialty of a country that your person is dying to visit, or maybe it’s from their old home town. Either way this is a thoughtful option and your friend will appreciate it (and likely get a good, heartwarming buzz courtesy of you.)

*Go vintage! A lot of this stuff is easy to find at thrift stores and online. Hot tip: search for “MidCentury Barware” on Etsy and feel your heart take flight.

None of these are givin’ you that post-cocktail buzz? Why not plan a cocktail bar crawl in your city or a city near by?  Or maybe find a cocktail class to take with a friend? Like I’ve said before, some people would rather receive an experience than a gift. Have a drink and think on it.


That does it for this gift guide! I’ve got one more up my sleeve and that one is a little more high energy (spoilers: it’s coffee-centric!).

If you’re still having trouble thinking of a gift, I am totally game to help you brainstorm. Shoot me a comment or an email and we can figure it out together.

Happy Holidays!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Map

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I remember someone once told me that if you want to know more about something, you should surround yourself with it; if you want to learn French, go to France; if you want to know about art, visit as many galleries as you can; and if you want to know about Bourbon-Whiskey, go to Kentucky. So (you better believe) I did.

On the way up to the cabin, since we would be driving through bourbon country, we decided to make a stop on the Bourbon Trail–AKA the region that America’s best distilleries call home. After much debate on where to start we decided on Woodford Reserve in Versailles* Kentucky(there was really no competition, let’s be honest).

*Pronounced “VER-SALES” if you’re a native and also if you don’t know what France is.

The tour through the distillery was about an hour long and took us through each stage of the bourbon process from cooking to consumption*. The Woodford distillery is the oldest around in the states; it was built some time in the late 1700s and the architectural style is so truly Scots-Irish you may forget you’re in Kentucky. After being up close and personal with such much bourbon, it’s a little bit hard for me to tell myself not to start a micro distillery…in my kitchen.

*My favorite part was the consumption.

After visiting my first distillery it’s now become a goal of mine to visit the rest on the trail. (Who doesn’t want to drink learn more about bourbon and the area that does it best?). To make that journey a little easier, for myself and for anyone else who wants to join in, I thought I’d make a little map. Bon Voyage!

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After a change of plans I’ll be leaving for Charleston tomorrow in the A M and making stops in Chattanooga, Atlanta, and who knows where else. Why not make a long drive into a real road trip, right?

 

Speak to you soon!