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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The fact that you can find these on Amazon means they’re here to stay.
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.
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
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.
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.
The only way to fail is to not go.
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.