The Mixologist’s gotten you into plenty of blissful adventures, most of which ended without real long term damage to your record or your marriage. He’s a passionate guy, and he knows his craft: beer, that is. Malts, mash, wheat, barley, rye, and oh yes, sweet sweet delicious hops — he sucks them all down, grinning happily with a wry gleam in his eye. Don’t let him order your drink for you — do you know how much that 18 year costs?
But honestly, if you could donate your liver to this drinker, you would. He’s not a drunk, he’s just passionate about his liquid amber hobby. He’s already sunk half his salary into that sexy bar in the basement; find him some gifts to fill it, or catch him off guard with something he’ll love but has never sipped, snifted or savored.
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1. Boozy Literature
If beer flights gave out frequent flier miles, you’d be on your way to Belgium roundtrip for free. You’ve gone to the events, tracked down the master distillers and pumped them for their secrets. Yet you still crave more knowledge, more tasting notes, more drinks to whip up on the sly. What you need is a hearty alcohol library: here’s three books to get you started.
With How to Brew, even your most shocking beer disappointments will be utterly tasty. Everything you need — history, methods, equipment overviews, ingredient lists and photos — is packed into its pages, in order, so you’ll be competing with the trappists in no time. The PDT Cocktail Book is an impressive bible from one of the most unique cocktail bars in the world; inside its beautiful leather cover are the secrets to 304 cocktails and imagery to match. And if your bucket list needs a shot of firewater, get 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die. The content is self explanatory, and it’s a perfect checklist for completing your libational education.
2. Professional Microbrewery
OK, so the only person who’s making you a “professional” brewer is Grandma, who can’t get enough of your hefeweizen. If you have enough lying around to put a down payment on a house, but you’d rather just craft some top quality suds, this Professional Microbrewery by Hammacher Schlemmer is the do-it-all package of your dreams. With all the parts of a true brewery in miniature — it still brews a whopping 14 gallons at a time — and an integrated touch screen controlling it all, this brewery might be the rich guy’s way out, but hell, it’s awesome.
3. Bullet Cocktail Shaker by Metrokane
The perfect story to tell that cute blonde whose drink you’re making: you got this awesome shaker off the set of The Expendables 2. From Sly Stallone. After you did his stunt work for him. If you’d rather go subtle, the solid stainless steel, art deco barkeeping Bullet Cocktail shaker is well-made with just the right amount of flash for a barkeeping tool. But seriously: Sly. Stallone.
4. Scotch Malt Whisky Society Membership
Skull and Bones didn’t end so well for the mixologist (he didn’t know they meant that kind of tapping!). Give him another shot at exclusivity with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The group scours Scotland and other locales for prime single cask, single malt whiskies, and makes them available — to members only, of course. The introductory kit includes a notebook, member’s handbook, society pin, and 4×10 cl bottles of wizened sipping pleasure. From there, it only gets better: private events and tastings, publications, access to exclusive members’ rooms in Leith, Edinborough and London, and a brotherhood of men who’ve got their priorities in order.
5. Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters
The unheralded garnish that finishes many a cocktail is not to be forgotten — the sum of the parts is just as important in a drink as it is in, say, your car’s engine. Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters hand crafts seasonal bitters using tradition ingredients (roots, vegetables, fruits and herbs) and gives each batch a unique twist. For instance, their current offerings are Meyer Lemon, Rhubarb, Black Mission Fig and, in an unprecedented bitters coup, Sriracha. They’re just one more step toward the mixologist’s magnum opus beverage, crafted in secrecy and with a heavy buzz, and of course, named after its creator.
6. 2010 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa Valley
You like to take your time when enjoying wine, and Chateau Montelena likes to do the same when they’re harvesting it. Because they were cautious, they saved 2010’s grape crop from destruction due to sun damage, unlike most of the other wineries on the North Coast. But this Chardonnay has more than just a great creation story: it’s delectable. The wine connoisseur will rave about firm acidity and tropical starfruit; you’ll just nod and enjoy, smiling inside at the small price you paid for boozy happiness.
7. Balvenie 17 DoubleWood
Seventeen years! If the Balvenie DoubleWood had gone to college, it would probably be your boss right now. It’s more mature than you, that’s for sure — and aging in both oak and Oloroso sherry casks have imparted tasty notes of dried fruit, toasted almond, cinnamon, toffee, oak, vanilla and caramel.
8. Good Bourbon
When isn’t a bottle of whiskey a perfect gift? George T. Stagg, Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year and Knob Creek personalized label bourbons each put unique spin on classic sippin’, and will make the serious drinker a very thankful man.
When tasting notes include “add a few drops of mineral water, sit back and ponder the universe”, you know you’ve selected wisely. George T. Stagg Bourbon, part of an antique collection by Buffalo Trace, hits the bourbon nail on its goddam head. Aged for fifteen years and served up uncut and unfiltered, Stagg rips in at 143 proof, but have no fear: the fiery drink goes down as smooth as can be. Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year is tip top on the bourbon charts, and has the added distinction of being extremely hard to find. If you can get your hands on a bottle, it’ll be a true test of friendship not to keep it for yourself. Knob Creek makes a tasty, affordable whiskey, and now it can be personalized, too, with labels you can customize online. This free extra touch is the perfect icing on the sweet, smoky bourbon cake.
9. Art in the Age Craft Spirits
The serious drinker wouldn’t be caught blacked out with flavored vodka. But there are other, less trashy options for alternative drinks; for instance, Art in the Age Craft Spirits. The four modern, liquored-up takes on classic brews (Root, Snap, Rhubarb and Sage) all have impressive and historical back stories. Root, for instance, is an homage to “root tea”, an alcoholic beverage that was the precursor to prohibition-age root beer; Snap, Pennsylvania Dutch gingersnap cookies in liquid form; Rhubarb a classic tea; Sage, a lost form of home-made “garden gin”. Drink to this grand experiment.
10. Tovolo Sphere Ice Mold
“On the rocks” is, well, on the rocks. Don’t be sucked in by expensive ice presses — the Tovolo Sphere Ice Mold produces better results at a nip of the price. Sure, roughly five hour freezing lead time will disappoint the instant gratification set, but the resulting balls are far firmer and slower to melt than the pressed competition. You also don’t have to keep blocks of ice hoarding space in the freezer. Why spheres? The reduced surface area means that the ice melts at a slower pace, keeping your drink cool with minimal dilution. This opens up the bouquet of any fine liquor, and gives you free reign over any and all school yard jokes you can muster.
11. Square One Organic Vodka
While you may have thought good Vodka only came from the Rooskies, Square One Organic is distilled right here in America. Vodka’s a pretty simple spirit: it’s all about purity here. That’s why Square One’s quality ingredients (all-organic rye from North Dakota and water from aquifers at the base of the Teton Mountains) make an especially clean, delicious liquor. Just don’t waste that virtuous simplicity on screwdrivers.
12. Tuthillton Barrel Aged Cocktail Kit
Vanilla smoothness with a sultry caramel hint? No, we’re not describing your hair. Impart some of your favorite taste notes with the Tuthillton Barrel Aged Cocktail Kit. It’s simple, really, just a glass jar with a piece of charred American oak whiskey barrel stave inside. Like all good
alcoholic beverages things, your genius, infused cocktail takes time to gain its new identity; but you get to be a master distiller (sort of).