Tiffin Project

Gift Ideas for the Bartender in Your Life

by Simon Ogden on December 18, 2008


Stuck for last minute gift ideas? No worries, we at Urban Diner are here to help. We know the one thing that unites us all as a species; regardless of race, creed or taste: we all want to be the bartender. Compiled below is a list of some great gift ideas that will have the wanna-be cocktician in your life mixing things up like a pro.


boston-shaker-accessories.jpgThe number one, must-have gift for the home bartender is, of course, the shaker. The Boston style pictured here is industry standard for the pros, but they’re hard to come by retail outside of restaurant suppliers. If you’re stuck on pro gear, The Gourmet Warehouse is probably your best bet. If you’re okay with the more typically gift-y 3 piece shaker set, you’d be looking mighty good giving a monogrammed shaker from Williams-Sonoma. 3 piece shakers have a built in strainer as well, if you go with a Boston you’ll need to buy a separte strainer; the kind we use in the bars is called a Hawthorn (also pictured). Whichever style you choose, just make sure it’s at least partly stainless steel. All-glass shakers don’t conduct the chill from the ice very well, and they get too much melt in the drink.

muddler.jpgA good, solid muddler is a great gift idea, too. A must for getting imaginative in the kitchen with drink ingredients. Muddlers get the goods out of herbs, fruit, peppers…the possibilities are endless, really. Almost any kitchen hardware store will carry at least one style of muddler, the heftier the better. Here’s some good examples of styles to watch out for from the Mojito Company.

zester.jpgFor a stocking stuffer, get ’em a stripper! The citrus kind, that is, I love my Good Grips for stripping off a nice, long twistable length of lemon or orange peel to finish off a drink, and it’s got a zester knife on the end too. But there’s nothing but choice here. Dollar stores even sell them.


There’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of a billion ‘bar books’ available in any given book store in town, and they’re all mostly useless. 98% of them are brightly coloured recipe guides aimed at the home bartender and I hate them all. Full of drinks you’ll never make and they require no creativity in the kitchen on your part. Talk about sucking the fun out of making your own drinks. You want to give the cocktail lover on your list a book that’s truly useful to them, like…

‘The Ultimate Bar Book’ by Andre Domine (not to be confused with The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails’ by Mittie Hellmich – a guaranteed dust collector). This heavy-as-a-brick volume is chock-full of great reading on the production and history of spirits and cocktails from all over the world, guaranteed to impress just by its sheer weight. Thing weighs a ton. I just picked mine up at Costco for $25.

‘Mondo Cocktail’ by Christine Sismondo. Great little stocking stuffer. The author discusses the rich backstories to 12 of history’s most important cocktails with a sharp, opinionated wit, so you know she’s a real bartender. This book puts the cocktail and the care required to make it properly in the historical context they deserve.

 ‘The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classicby Barnaby Conrad III. In which the epoch of the cocktail gets its due. A gorgeous, slim hardcover book that looks way better out of its dust jacket, its a love letter to the ultimate drink. Full of great photographs of the Martini throughout its lifetime, as well as great quotes and stories. Delightful.


Then there’s the tried and true. A bottle of their favourite booze (or yours, if you’re crafty) can’t fail. You might also consider giving them a collection of bitters to complete their cocktail kitchen, Fee Brothers has a fun set of 6 to start things off right. Again, Gourmet Warehouse is probably your best spot in town to snag these rare beauties.

And, if you want to never have to buy them another gift ever again, you can always wrap up the Louis XIII Black Pearl. Nothing says I Love You like $35,000 worth of brandy.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday everyone. Hope Santa’s good to you.

To your health…

Simon Ogden | Urban Diner

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

jackie December 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Hmmm well the bartender in MY life already has all of these things…what am I to do now ;)

Mark December 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm

I’d add:

– Collection of Fees bitters – especially the rarer orange, rhubarb, peach, mint, lemon and the tasty whisky barrel variant.

– a Parisien shaker – not your typical one handed, lift the lid and pour type, but a very oldschool shaker that requires some deft to use

– strainers – i like the conical ones that you can get at gourmet warehouse, from 4cm diameter up to 8cm.

– Books – how could you leave out Dale Degroff’s excellent classic books? :) Not to mention the bible – the Savoy Cocktail Book ;)

– glassware – as mentioned in a thread inside UD right now, the whisky glasses from Schott Zweisel’s Pure line are just super awesome whisky and rocks glasses. Also unique martini stemware in the champagne coupe style (not the angular style) would be a big hit

– little things, like measuring cups. Drinkboy is a huge fan of the Oxo little 2 ounce measurers that you can read from above (so am I); much more accurate than jiggers.

– for the home bartender who has everything: a complete install of a Kold Kraft ice making machine – the literally ULTIMATE in bar ice makers.

Simon December 19, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Mark, you’re awesome. (You too, babe ;-)

And if my boss is reading, all I want for Xmas is an ice crusher, please. My arm is getting sore.

Andrew December 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Wow. How about a t-shirt that says ‘Cocktician’?

Simon December 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Hey Manadrew. You can take the boy off of Granville St…

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