Due to either enduring months of closed bars or merely a wide availability of drinks expertise to draw from, it seems like more people are getting into making cocktails at home. And if you have a friend who greets you with an expertly made margarita or Negroni when you pop around, you may be interested in feeding their hobby with the perfect holiday gift. You could, of course, take a trip to the liquor store for a bottle of whatever their preferred spirit may be, but there’s a whole host of other items that make excellent gifts for the cocktail and spirits enthusiast.
For those ideas, I turned to Kapri Robinson and Denaya Jones-Reid who, as the hosts of the podcast Soul Palate, spend a lot of time thinking about cocktails. Robinson, a member of 2021’s Eater New Guard, is also the co-founder of cocktail competition Chocolate City’s Best, and Jones-Reid is the content curator at Chocolate City’s Best as well as the founder of Deestilled, which provides cocktail catering and education, and the director of operations for craft spirits retailer Seelbach’s. As they taste spirits and discuss how they navigate the hospitality industry, the podcast hosts aim to “normalize the Black and brown palate.” “We avoid sticking to the Eurocentric wheelhouse, the words that we’ve already been provided across the industry in terms of how to taste things and really just speak from a place of actual experience,” Jones-Reid says.
“We wanted to show that there’s lots of different ways to experience spirits, and that there’s no wrong answer to say what you’re tasting,” adds Robinson. Whether you’re looking for a gift for the cocktail novice or the seasoned hobbyist, here’s what they recommend giving this year.
Clear Ice Makers
Even the person who seemingly has everything is unlikely to have a clear ice maker, which controls the way ice freezes to produce large, clear ice cubes that won’t melt too quickly. Robinson says bar guests are consistently amazed at seeing crystal-clear ice in a cocktail. “Having clear ice at home is always just a plus,” says Robinson. “It’s everything. It makes your pictures better, and even if you’re hosting your friends, having clear ice really steps it up a notch.” She recommends two different ice makers, depending on your giftee’s preference for cubes versus spheres.
Robinson recommends heading to your local thrift store for some beautiful vintage glassware. “It’s nice because there are usually unique pieces that you don’t really see a lot of,” she says. And when it comes to what kind of glassware to seek out, Robinson and Jones-Reid agree: Coupes make a great gift. “I keep an assortment of coupes in my house,” Jones-Reid says. “I’m over flutes.”
Robinson believes the best-looking coupes are the vintage ones found in thrift stores, and they’re versatile. “You can use coupes for Champagne, daiquiris, martinis, Manhattans, wine, even water if you really want to,” Robinson says.
The hosts also recommend seeking out some cute tasting glasses. “The trend is shifting from just throwing back shots to actually appreciating spirits,” Jones-Reid says. The friend who may have once collected shot glasses while on vacation could likely use a set of more elegant tasting glasses. “Stemmed, stemless, it doesn’t matter. I have different tasting glasses for different occasions.”
If you strike out locally, fear not; vintage glassware also abounds on the internet. The Instagram account @cute.sips is dedicated to showcasing and selling vintage glassware. Rosemary Home has an excellent selection that includes some very pretty options for both coupes and aperitif glasses. And there’s always Etsy.