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Cocktail Gift Guide: 2018 Edition

Recipe books, bartending tools, and booze for your favorite home bartender


Collins & Coupe's collection of cocktail tools | Photo: Kelly Davis

Cocktail books, booze, and bar accessories make great gifts for folks who know their aperitifs from their digestifs and for those who aspire to. Most of these items can be found at The Library Shop at San Diego’s Central Library (always a great place for gifts of all sorts) and Collins & Coupe in North Park, your one-stop shop for all things cocktail related.



(all available at The Library Shop)

Free the Tipple: Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women: This beautifully illustrated book features a solid selection of easy-to-make cocktails, but what’s even better is the women they’ve chosen to highlight—photographer Cindy Sherman, architect Zaha Hadid, and author Zadie Smith among them. Pick one up for your favorite hostess.

The Mini Bar: Punch, a great online magazine about all things boozy, recently put out this elegantly packaged eight-book collection. Each book is roughly four by six inches and focuses on one category of spirits—whisky, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, Champagne, sherry, and amaro—with 100 recipes in the set.


Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita: The latest from Tim Federle, author of Tequila Mockingbird and Gone with the Gin, riffs on literary classics (The Island of Dr. Merlot, Billy Budd Light, A Room with Vermouth), offering a clever summary of each book along with a recipe. There are even a handful of nonalcoholic cocktails and recipes for bar snacks.



You & Yours Winter Sunday Gin: The bottle alone, with its delicate red, white, and green floral design, makes for a great gift. Cloves, pink peppercorn, citrus, and hints of pine make it a cocktail-friendly option that’s just lovely in a gin and tonic. Speaking of: You & Yours’ new line of canned cocktails ($14.99 for six) features gorgeous graphics and will be a hit at any party. The gin and canned cocktails are available at the You & Yours distillery in the East Village and spots like The Village Store, KnB Wine Cellars, and Lazy Acres.


Michter’s American Whiskey: The nice folks at Fletcher Hills Bottle Shop recommended this to my husband several months ago and we’ve since recommended it to a number of friends. It’s an easy-drinking whiskey that also works well in cocktails. The only reason it’s not a bourbon is because it’s aged in previously used bourbon barrels. Whatever. It’s delicious. And available at most liquor stores.


Consortium Holdings’ Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbons: Consortium Holdings’ bartenders selected these single-barrel bourbons, available at Raised by Wolves in the UTC mall. You can get a bottle for less than $40, and it tastes like it cost twice as much.


Bitters, Syrups, and Spices

There’s a growing number of local folks making excellent cocktail ingredients. Collins & Coupe is the place to go to see all the offerings, and plenty of great options from other small-batch makers. As for the locals: Nostrum’s line of shrubs (a tart fruit syrup) make great cocktails and, for nondrinkers, can also be mixed with soda water ($18). Domaine Santé’s sweeteners are grape based and a healthier option than sugar or agave. Grab a three-pack ($18). Boy Drinks World’s serrano spice ($20) is a must have for fans of cocktails with a little heat (grab a box set of all three BWD products—aromatic walnut bitters, serrano spice, and passion fruit bitters—for $30). And R&D Bitters’ Aromatic #7 ($20) is a staple in the bitters lineup of many cocktail bars. R&D has recommended recipes for all its bitters on its website—print one up and include it with a bottle.

Stocking stuffers (find these—and more!—at Collins & Coupe)

Bittermilk Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned cocktail mixer ($2): Mix the contents of this adorable mini bottle with bourbon for a perfect old-fashioned.

Neon tiki shot glasses ($5): These come in pink, yellow, and blue and are so fun and pretty, you’ll want to grab one in each color.

Star-topped cocktail stirs ($3): Collins & Coupe has a great collection of metal cocktail stirs. These are especially cool, as are the sets of Viski cocktail picks ($12) that you’ll find on the same shelf.

Bar spoons ($2–$5): Save your giftee from the uncouthness of using his fingers to scoop cherries and olives out of the jar. These come in a variety of sizes. Find them at the top left of the display of cocktail-making tools.


Got ideas for a future post? Email me.

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