The Bartender’s Cyber Monday

I often say, “Look, if there hasn’t been a sitcom about your profession/lifestyle, then how am I to understand you?” Community conveys that community college professors can’t own enough tweed jackets,  24 shows us that FBI agents want bullets and cellphones for X-mas, and 30 Rock proposes that all anyone wants is a sandwich.

Unfortunately, the dated (but profound) Cheers does not show the wish list of a craft bartender. The average bartender has too many bad bar books, too many “Woodys, Cliffs & Norms” and not enough well thought out gifts for the holiday season.  Like I said at the top, this is due to a profession bereft of mainstream media representation.  But, what follows is an insight into what the modern bartender on your list really wants for this holiday season.

If you have a friend who holds bottles like this, the holiday gifts below will suit that lout you love.


You know how when you look back at your christmas presents, that you end up with a pair of wool socks that you’re not excited about at the time, but will serve you well for years to come? These are gifts are overlooked like waffle irons or nice soap; all shitty presents, but you are really happy to have when you’re craving waffles and your hands are covered in syrup.

OXO Measuring Cups
No need to measure out the ingredients for a 4 gallon punch 2oz’s at a time. I’ve tried it with my 4th of July punch and I’m still only 64% done. Wish me luck.

The rusty old nutmeg grater, that is found in every bar, is completely unacceptable for the modern bar. Welcome to the last decade, bartender, grate your fresh nutmeg with pride.

Angostura & Peychauds Bitters
It’s not what anybody wants, but it is what everybody needs.

Bar Towels
You might have plenty of bar RAGS at home, but I don’t use bar RAGS. Bar RAGS are for mopping up vomit. I use bar TOWELS. Bar TOWELS keep your work station clean and tidy. And you can never have enough of them.

Mineral Oil for Cutting Boards & Muddlers
Moldy muddlers, and bacteria harboring cutting boards are completely avoidable with a three-dollar per bottle of mineral oil. Seal your wood tools and make the world a safer place. And, while you’re at it, pick up a new wooden muddler and cutting board – they make great stocking stuffers.

Whet Stone
It’s basically a brick. An expensive brick. A thirty dollar brick. But it will make a $10 knife last for 10 years when used correctly. Depending on the type of city or town you live in; go see your local sushi chef, or your local redneck, for instructions on sharpening a blade.

Bottle of Fernet
It’s the bartender’s fruit cake.

The Museum of the American Cocktail
I’ve already sung the praises of this book in my post on Books for Bartenders. It’s the gift I give all bartenders regardless of the occasion. Happy Arbor Day!

Tickle Me Elmo

Remember how every year had a hot gift that everyone’s gotta have? The one item that you must get by Christmas morning lest you be the only kid on the block without one….let’s just say that if Christmas morning comes, and you don’t have at least one thing from this list in your stocking, then nobody loves you.

PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan
It’s been 81 years since a cocktail book this good has come out.
(Find the 81 year old book entitled The Savoy Cocktail Book under Ferraris.)

Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons
It is the definitive book on bitters; the definitive ingredient for cocktails. Starting on page 26 you can find a comprehensive list of commercially available bitters. Plus, on page 156 you can find the recipe for my signature cocktail the Bitter Handshake which, despite its obvious moniker, still made the cut for the book.

Boutique Bitters
The fact that you can find these on Amazon means they’re here to stay.

Jar of REAL cherries: Amarena, Maraschino or Morello
Give these to the bartender in your life and you’ll get the perfect ending to every Manhattan.

Tovolo Silicone Ice Trays
I’m not going to rant about ice right now, I already did that during my seminar at Tales of the Cocktail. Look, a bartender always wants better ice at home and these silicone wonders are easiest the way to do it sans chainsaw.

Glencairen Glasses
After a shift every bartender wants a beer, a shot of whiskey and a slice of cold pizza. Cold pizza is a bit crap in the stocking and crappy beer is literally $6 a dozen, but good whiskey deserves a good glass. See my love letter to the glass under Drinking Like a Man.

Ken Burns: Prohibition
Ken Burns tells us the way things were like nobody else, in a melancholy dulcet tone with good music.  This DVD doubles as a wardrobe wish list for handle-bar-stached bartenders.

Bar Smarts Wired
It’s a mere $29 to get virtual lessons from the best of the best

Handsome Lessons: Dale DeGroff
Emoting Lessons: Doug Frost
PROJECTING Lessons: Steve Olson
Efficiency Lessons: Andy Seymour
Life Lessons: David Wondrich
Listing Lessons: F. Paul Pacult (I passed!)


Too many ivory back scratchers? Bored of lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills? Me neither! These are the money-is-no-object gift for your very favorite bartender.

Bartender Utility Bag
It keeps all your stainless steel from jingling and jangling when you’re in your after work cab. But, Michelle wants me to make sure you know that a bag this stylish doesn’t belong in a cab, it belongs in an Uber.

Fancy Blue Blazer Mugs
These are silver plated mugs, so, yeah, they’re not those steel ones that everyone’s been lighting on fire over the last couple of years. These mugs have the Victorian flare that even Jerry Thomas himself would appreciate.

Age Your Own Whiskey Kit – from Woodinville Whiskey
The white dog is good, and the bourbon is better. You can reuse the barrel for that trendy shit that all the kids are doing these days, but don’t muddy up my blog comments with your ideas on barrel aged cocktails.

Gentleman’s Companion
Once upon a time there was a man who worked in shipping, inherited money, and married rich. He took these blessings and drank them. This book is his gift to you. Read it and learn how to tell a better story.

Scotch School
The only way to fail is to not go.

Original Savoy Cocktail Book

The art-deco cover alone is worth whatever price an antiquarian book dealer is asking. It’s synonymous with style, elegance, and sophistication. I bought an ascot just to read this book.

You’ll think this is more reasonable after 4+ cocktails. However, I assure you it is not. And, for the record, gold makes things taste better.

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8 Responses to The Bartender’s Cyber Monday

  1. Neil says:

    I was wondering if the PDT book was worthy or trendy bullshit. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Neil says:

    Oh, and a tip from me on the microplane – once you grate nutmeg on it, it’ll be useless for any other purpose, so buy a dedicated one.

    • caskstrength says:

      Right on Neil, you need a Microplane for spices, citrus and cheese. They make a hard spice plane too. And the Mircoplane is just like a knife – the dishwasher destroys it.

  3. wasabi prime says:

    Fantastic list; I’ll have to check out those particular silicone ice trays, as the silly novelty ones I have produce mixed results. And yes, all anyone really needs *is* a sandwich, so as Tracy Morgan/Jordan would say: “Deal with it, Cate Blanchett.”

  4. Actually, I do need actual Socks, or Hosiery, as Olde Tyme bartenders called it.

  5. Nice list…now, if I just had a bartender on my “Nice” List…ho!ho!ho!

  6. Brant says:

    Polar ice cube trays. Clear ice for home use. Just received some from the lady as a B day gift. They work. Check it.

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