As the festive season approaches and gift shopping is on everyone’s minds, there’s always that one person who has it all, and who you struggle to come up with thoughtful gift ideas for.
Happily, one of the pandemic-induced shifts in Australia provides the perfect answer for that question. The home bar trend that took off in 2020 is clearly here to stay, as we realised the many advantages of having a bar at home. So, what is the best Christmas gift for the person who has everything? Why, a home cocktail kit, of course.
Here is a list of the essential tools for the home bar that you should include in the perfect gift for your home bartender friend.
Most cocktail recipes call for a shaker. While there are three main types of cocktail shakers — the Boston, the French and the Cobbler — it’s the Cobbler shaker which is ideal to include in a bartending basics for beginners kit. Why? The Cobbler shaker has three parts — the tin, the cap, and a built-in strainer — while the Boston shaker, the preferred choice for most professionals, has an inverted mixing glass on the top (although this can be made of tin, too), meaning a strainer must be bought separately. The French shaker is less common but gaining popularity. It’s the same two-part design as the Boston shaker, but is all stainless steel, making it super stylish.
A jigger is another essential home bar item. Generally shaped like an hourglass, it has two ends — one a full shot (30ml) and the other a double shot (60ml), although you can also get ones with multiple measurements. Choose a jigger with a non-slip grip to guard against spills.
Next on the list come the bar tools that aren’t strictly essential in a cocktail kit but will save your home bartender having to improvise from the kitchen drawer.
A bar spoon is designed with an extra-long handle that can reach the bottom of the tallest tumbler or jug, to mix ingredients in cocktails that are stirred, not shaken, such as a Negroni. Why not add a bottle of Campari and make it a ready-to-go gift pack?
Another non-essential bar tool, but one that’s nice to have for bartending practice, is a muddler — basically a slender pestle, used to squeeze or crush fruits and herbs, to infuse the flavours into the cocktail. Your giftee might use this to make something like a white-rum based Mojito.
Making cocktails often involves plenty of cutting up fruit! A small paring knife will help them make short work of cutting, slicing, peeling and stripping for garnishes.
And, along with the standard ice cube tray, every home bartender will love one that makes large ice cubes for spirit-heavy drinks such as a Manhattan, made with rye whiskey.
In fact, an ice sphere tray is an ideal whiskey drinking accessory as it helps get the drink cold without being diluted too quickly.
The right cocktail glass can make any drinking experience a special occasion. So, to make your cocktail kit a truly perfect gift, add glassware for the bar cart.
Consider a set of traditional V-shaped martini glasses or coupés for Margaritas and Daiquiris; mid-height tumblers, AKA double rocks, for an Old Fashioned; or highballs for taller drinks such as a Sling or Tequila Sunrise.
With this complete bar tool set, your giftee just needs to add the essential liquors for a home bar from the local Vintage Cellars store — and with a bit of luck, you may see a delicious return on your investment.