From To Dry For, one of my favourite websites. They make tea towels into a thing of joy, for one of the dullest jobs in the kitchen.
Always worth checking in on what’s new with them, they just keep finding new designs and designers to create a moment in the dull routine to just brighten the day up. Now if that isn’t worth a few moments of time I’m not sure what is.
I love at cocktail at any time of year, and Christmas definitely is a great time for making a few, whether old classics or modern twists on them. Here’s a few things to inspire, to make the mixing fun and the serving beautiful.
I love this book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, as an inspiration for cocktails that are a bit unusual, and not necessarily all about the alcohol. Something different might be very welcome for the drivers and others not partaking of the hard stuff. Great ideas like switchels, shrubs and tonics, most of which I’d never come across. Some great stories to tell as well as some great tastes.
You need to start off well, and what could be better than a fabulous cocktail shaker? The Viski cocktail shaker will definitely be a talking point, and make you really feel the business. If you like your martini the same way as James Bond, then this is the shaker you need.
Make like the stars and blend their favourites from their films with Cocktails of the Movies. I mean, everyone knows what Bond drinks (god, we even know what brands now given the over-commercialisation of the films) but these give you the champagne cup of the Grand Budapest Hotel (one of my favourite films of recent times, some fabulous cakes in it too), Marilyn’s Manhattan in Some Like it Hot or even Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist from Groundhog Day. I guess if one of their favourite films is in there, you could get the film and everything for the cocktails for a really personal and memorable gift.
Perhaps they like cocktails so much they can’t bear to be parted from them? In which case the pocket cocktail set may be just up their street. It’s called a carry on kit, though I imagine these still have to go in your plastic bag through security, but the sizing is ok. And would still cost you less to mix a Moscow Mule or a Gin and Tonic than the average airline wants to charge!
If they’re really serious about their mixology, then how about a professional bartenders bag? All the tools of the trade for them to really look the business, and to be able to mix up just about anything, spirits permitting. They’ll be able to muddle, shake, stir and jig to their heart’s content.
All you really need after that is a good selection of spirits, mixers and some citrus fruit and garnishes, and a good night should be had by all.
I can think of so many people that this is the perfect gift for. Microbarbox.com delivers a bar in a box to your door, and they could do it every month if you liked.
Now, that’s one piece of post you wouldn’t mind receiving every month! A monthly subscription is £24 per month, and the contents change each month (though if you need to know these things there are always 8 units of alcohol in the box, plus mixers and recipes). There’s an offer on a first box at just £14.
And given that this is October, and therefore Breast Cancer Awareness month, then order the Pink Box and they will donate £2 to Cancer Research UK if you order in October.
These are a bit of a fun, you could of course put them together to yourself but for a gift in a hurry or to send to a far flung friend, then these could be brilliant gifts. Cocktail recipes included, just in case the recipe for your favourite cocktail is not ingrained in your brain!
This has been through Kickstarter funding, and is due to start shipping from April next year, for $299 plus shipping. The capsules are $20 for 12, and include Cosmopolitan, Margarita and a Zest Martini. So, it’s not cheap, but we’re thinking of getting one as a team, and disguising it as a coffee machine.
So, not one for your Christmas list this year, but keep an eye out for it arriving properly next year.
I’m very late to the party to know about Mr Lyans, who is obviously a big noise in the bartending and cocktail making world, and does sound very inventive and innovative. But my choice of one of his pre-mixed cocktails came from a random search, rather than being impressed by the name!
Now, a Rainy Day Spritz may not be the most romantic name for a drink for Valentine’s Day, but the flavours sound delicious. This is a mix of raspberry eau de vie, vermouth and rhubarb liquer and can be drunk, well chilled, straight from the fridge.
Or if you really want to blast any thought of rainy days away then you can mix it with prosecco or wine. But it’s Valentine’s Day, surely bubbles are the order of the day? It would certainly make for something different from a bottle of pink cava, and have more flavour.
If you need something to perk up a warm summer’s evening, then you might like the vodka iced teas from Percy’s. Claire sent me some samples a couple of weeks ago, and the weekend’s warm evenings made for ideal testing conditions.
These are hand blended and packed by Claire, so definitely small production runs! I’ve tried the two white tea variants this weekend, which are light and delicately flavoured. The pear and raspberry is a very pretty colour, just made for a coupe.
There are two black tea variants as well, with apple, lemon and lime next on my list. To be honest, I would like just a little more alcoholic kick to these, which are a 4.5% ABV, but you can’t really tell. Well, maybe not until the third bottle! They’re very refreshing though, and you could use this as a base for a cocktail rather than drink them as they are.
I may have mentioned the fact that I am quite partial to a cocktail. Or two. And Christmas is definitely the time for shaking up the drink selection. If you need a bit of inspiration, or have a mixologist wannabe on your gift list, then maybe these might be just the thing!
How to Drink at Christmas – I think most of us have got the hang of how to drink, so it’s more interesting to think of what to drink. There are aperitifs for small numbers or ones for bigger gatherings such as Robbie’s Wassail cup. I really like the section for warming drinks after walks across frozen fields, which sounds like just the thing to me.
Winter Cocktails – again, this book will generate some great ideas for post Christmas walk warm ups. There are mulled ciders, hot toddies and punches, all of which sound just the thing if we have had a white Christmas. Or even just a cold, damp one!
Apothecary Cocktails – apparently these are restorative drinks from yesterday and today, so just the thing perhaps for after the great feast of Christmas Day. There are digestives, to soothe and ease, and winter warmers to chase the cold away. And then there are the restoratives, for the day after!
The Cocktail Book 1926 Reprint – Perfect if you are going full on retro this Christmas, this book says Noel Coward to me, and there’ll be martinis and old-fashioneds galore. When I saw Blithe Spirit I couldn’t get over how many cocktails were knocked back in each act! There again, I might also think of Dorothy Parker, and mix up an Algonquin.
I’m So Happy It’s Happy Hour – ah, a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is about serious liquor. Apparently these are sinfully delicious cocktails for anytime. I propose a drinkoff between the Merry Widow and the Brazen Hussy. Story of my year. Though a meeting of the Naked Waiter, Scarlet Lady and 3AM on a School Night could be interesting too.
So, have fun, drink well if you want to, or not. I’m the biggest lightweight around these days, so I think I’ll be picking my favourite one and just the one. That, or a small sherry!
I love the Fab site, and I happened to spot this cocktail shaker:
I love a Mason jar, such a design classic and gorgeous looking in every environment. Not to mention hugely versatile, so why not get them earning their keep with a touch of cocktail shaking? Love them.
UPDATE: Sadly Fab aren’t trading in the UK at the moment, but still going in the US if someone can have these delivered for you.
It’s definitely getting to be the run up to Christmas, so time to start thinking about different types of people to shop for. I know I’ve written about on great cocktail kit already, but thought it would be fun to focus on great gifts for those who want to make like Tony Conigliaro. So this is about everything except pretty much the liquor, which you could certainly add to any of these as well.
Every mixologist needs a great cocktail shaker, and they certainly can set the tone for your style. If you wanted to give a really special looking one that’s going to last, then I love this Trombone cocktail shaker from Nick Monro. Classic design but interesting, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with this. Unless they wanted a real trombone.
You just know that someone somewhere is going to think serving up lots of layered cocktails on Christmas Day is just the best ever thing they could do. If they are that person, they are going to love this. You’d probably want to add some minatures of different coloured liquers as well, then stand back when they start passing these round!
If they really love their gadgets, then how about the Bar10Der tool? This is the Swiss Army knife of bar gadgets, and would mean that you were never caught short of a jigger or strainer. Which has to be a good thing.
Maybe they’re more in the Del Boy territory than the Shoreditch of cocktails, more Pina Colada than Earl Grey Martini. In which case they need this cocktail accessories set. Not a cool thing amongst it, only in a very kitsch way. Which is possibly cool in its own way.
What you do need regardless of the type of cocktail you’re going to make is beautiful glasses. To be honest, I would serve water in these if nothing else, as I just think they are stunning. Called Garbo, they have style and mystique with just enough glitz to feel glamorous, not tacky.
If you don’t want to risk duplicating spirits they already have then how about something a little unusual to add to their collection, like these Bitters. Perfect travel sizes, or for experimentation, to really give them a sense of upping their game. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what you’d do with the celery one, but could be a whole lot of fun to find the right one.
To be honest, if this is the sort of person you’re shopping for I think you can have a lot of fun with it, and across whatever budget you have. Cheers!
I’m not big on molecular gastronomy but I am rather keen on cocktails and I rather liked these sets when I saw them at the Autumn Fair. Molecule-R are a Canadian company and have produced a number of kits around gastronomy techniques but then these are a little bit different.
There are kits for Mojito, Cosmopolitans and Margaritas, and the kits mean you can convert the ingredients into floating caviars, foams and spheres. Well, it would liven up Christmas Day afternoon for sure!
These are available in the UK through Amazon at about £30 a kit. Of course, if you want to add in appropriate bottles of vodka, rum and tequila, then that’s up to you. I really like The Drink Shop for selection, particularly if you only want to add miniature bottles to this gift.