Coming up with the perfect gift for a home or professional bartender is no small task. Though a bottle of whiskey or the hot new gin is always a good place to start, this year you might want to consider something a little less, well, obvious.
From bar tools to recipe books to unusual—and festive—ingredients, there are plenty of present options beyond booze that have the ability to surprise and impress the drinker in your life.
Whether you’re looking for a stocking stuffer or something slightly more extravagant, we asked seven all-star bartenders from around the country about what’s on their wish list this holiday season—and here’s what they had to say.
Edible Glitter for Festive Pizazz
“My wish list item for the holidays—and always—is edible glitter. It is perfect for the holidays to make any of your cocktails better looking and festive! You can use it on your garnish or just straight up put it in the cocktail to give it a nice shimmery effect...My favorite colors for the winter are red, purple, and gold.”—Christine Wiseman, bar director, Broken Shaker at The Freehand, Los Angeles
Books, Snacks & Pottery from Umami Mart
“[Umami Mart] carries stunning Japanese barware, knives and other tools. I especially like the books on offer, such as Cocktail Codex and The Way of Whisky. [It] also sells a selection of my favorite pantry items for cocktails and bar snacks, like liquid koji, smoked shoyu, matcha, yuzu kosho, etc. I am also currently obsessed with Hasami Porcelain. They make minimal and beautifully designed plates, mugs, carafes and wooden trays.” —Julia Momose, partner & creative director, Kumiko, Chicago
Apparel from Mover & Shaker
“I love anything from Mover & Shaker Co. I love all their [enamel] pins, especially if they’re making fun of stuff I love. And they have brilliant t-shirts, including a white-and-red ringer tee that looks like it has the Burger King logo on it, but says ‘Bourbon King.’” —Sother Teague, beverage director, Amor y Amargo, New York
Precision Tongs for Perfect Garnishes
“I was recently given some Mercer Culinary 18-8 stainless steel precision tongs with an offset tip that are six-and-a-half inches long—and I love them. They are great for garnishing drinks at events. It’s not really on the wish list as I was already gifted them, but I would highly recommend them as a gift for bartenders.” —Julie Reiner, owner, Clover Club & co-owner, Leyenda, New York
Peruvian Bitters & A Super-Powered Blender
“There are two things that I am super in love with: the Hamilton Beach HMD200 blender that every tiki bar has and Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Bitters. [The blender] can aerate and whip cocktails to perfection—particularly if there is any fat in the drink. [And the bitters] are criminally underutilized. They are a perfect balance of aromatic and bitter with notes of banana, cola and bubble gum. While they are necessary when creating an authentic Pisco Sour, they are great in much more. In fact, I love adding a couple dashes to a Rusty Nail.” —Erick Castro, co-owner, Raised by Wolves & Polite Provisions, San Diego
A Pellet Ice Machine for the Home
“I’ve always wanted one of those Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker machines for home. Sometimes I want to make bar-quality drinks at home but I don’t really like my crushed ice options. I prefer the uniform size of the pebble ice over the ice produced by a Lewis bag and food processor. This [machine] looks like it would be a lot of fun.”—Jeff Morgenthaler, bar manager, Clyde Common & Pépé Le Moko, Portland, Oregon
Old-School Irn-Bru Soda
“My answer has to be old recipe Irn-Bru (pronounced iron brew), the quintessential Scottish soda. They updated the recipe recently and it’s lost a bit of its magic, but the old recipe stuff is still out there—it’s just hard to find. The recipe change actually largely had to do with decreased sugar content enforced by the government, so [the flavor change is] mostly [due to] the inclusion of artificial sweeteners. It’s a great mixer option, great on its own and a huge piece of nostalgia for me personally.” —Alfie Spears, bar manager, Trick Dog, San Francisco