Dizzy Gift Guide 2014

Still have some last-minute holiday shopping to do? You can always take the tried-and-true route and give all of those cocktail lovers on your list a shiny new bottle for their top shelf. Of course, you might be tempted to keep those kinds of gifts for yourself. Here are some other suggestions for the tipplers on your list. Cheers to a safe, warm, and peaceful holiday season, and please, be kind to your neighbors!
Forage Haberdashery
Gents, need a dapper accessory for your holiday or New Year’s Eve outfit? Look no further than Forage Haberdashery, a line of handcrafted bow ties, neck ties, handkerchiefs and more. They also offer a line of bows for the ladies. Reasonably priced with free domestic shipping, get 20 percent off with the code HOLIDAY, and as an added bonus, your package will arrive pre-wrapped in handsome black paper and string.

Skull cocktail picks
For the Zombie drinkers on your list, bring some goth to their tiki game with these Grave Digger cocktail picks ($10.50) made from howlite turquoise and food grade stainless steel. Plus, the seller’s name is Dizzy Diva, so she’s obviously doing something right.

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For the party hosts who seem to have everything, you can’t go wrong with gifting them a new set of rocks glasses. This Double Old Fashioned set from West Elm ($30 for 6) offers geometric intrigue and a modern touch that will liven up any bar top.

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For the frequent flier, the Carry-On Cocktail Kit ($24) is a winning move. Have the most dignified flight ever with this handy kit that includes aromatic bitters, cane sugar, a muddling spoon, a recipe card, and a linen coaster. Just add a mini bottle of whiskey and ice, and you’ll have yourself two Old Fashioneds at any altitude.

bicycle growler
The growler craze has taken full hold ’round these parts, and NYC bars serving beer to go are a dime a dozen. Help your favorite beer drinkers keep their crafty suds mobile with this bicycle-friendly growler ($50) that holds 64 oz.

Death and Company book
Taste your way through 500 original cocktail recipes from one of NYC’s most celebrated drinking dens with Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails ($26) by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day. The elegant tome lays out instructions that are simple enough to follow at home. Soon enough you’ll be whipping up Oaxaca Old Fashioneds of your own–just be sure to dim the lights down low and burn some candles for the full effect.

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For the cocktail geeks on your list looking to sharpen their skills, hand them a copy of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique ($20.95) by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. The Oregon bartender and blogger is known for his expertise, and here he breaks down every step needed to make cocktails that taste just as good as those from your favorite craft cocktail bar. Don’t be surprised if the recipient of this gift starts crowding the refrigerator with jars of homemade syrups, sodas, and infused tinctures.

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For the whiskey lover with an attention span, book a seat (or two, and save one for yourself, naturally) in the best kind of school around–the Spirit School at Brandy Library ($55-$120 per class). Not only will they expand their palates with tastings such as “Rare and Precious” and “Japanese Whiskey at its Best,” but they’ll be treated to expert guidance from the Brandy Library’s spirit sommeliers.

Dizzy Gift Guide 2013

While it's too late to order UK designer Kate Broughton's classic cocktail gift wrap in time for Christmas, how lovely would it be to use this later in the year?

Although it’s too late to order UK designer Kate Broughton’s classic cocktail gift wrap in time for Christmas, how lovely would it be to use this later in the year?

If you are anything like me, you have lots of cocktail lovers on your holiday gift list (and you are also one yourself). What are the holidays about, if not spreading the love? While your hunt for Pappy’s may prove fruitless,  here are some cocktailian gift ideas that should be readily available at fine shops (or online retailers) near you. Cheers to the holiday season, and may your glass always be half full!

ice_sphere_glass

For the whiskey drinker who likes their poison on the rocks, ice sphere molds ($12.95 for a set of two) are an essential accessory. Not only does a globe of ice look impressive, it melts more slowly and evenly, leading to less dilution.

absinthe glass set
Spirits connoisseurs know that absinthe won’t make you hallucinate (that’s just a myth), but at 106-148 proof, the anise flavored hooch demands to be served properly.  This stylish absinthe glassware set ($24 without spoons, $48 with) is made in the classic Belle Epoque style with 1-ounce reservoirs so you can easily measure your desired absinthe-to-water ratio.

Restoration Hardware bar collection
Restoration Hardware might not be the first place you think of for bar accessories, but their vintage hotel silver bar collection ($29-$79) is almost as charming as real vintage flea market finds. Cast brass with a soft patina, these shaker tins and tools recall a simpler era.

anthropologie decanter
Nothing dresses up a home bar quite like a crystal decanter. Anthropologie has a nice range to choose from, such as this quilted crystalline decanter ($68) that begs to pour something strong and delicious.

unbound-maraschino
If you are looking for a DIY gift, you could easily make your own brandied cherries — but if you are short on time and ingredients, these all-natural maraschino cherries ($7) will be welcomed by any fan of the Manhattan or the Mai Tai.

bamboo-straws
For the beach bum on your list, these faux bamboo straws ($7.95) are the perfect addition to tiki drinks. Pair with a set of tiki mugs ($22.41) for the full effect.

potc-front-cover
Speaking of beach bums, the one and only tiki drink historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry returns to publishing with the release of “Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them” ($34.95). A compendium of vintage Caribbean drinks, this epic collection of recipes shares the stories behind the spirited history of the West Indies.  Of the 77 recipes in the book, 16 of them are “lost” and have never been published in any form, and another 19 have never been published in book form before.

Whiskey John Lamond
For the novice drinker getting started in the worlds of bourbon, rye, and Scotch, Whiskey: Instant Expert ($13.21) is a handy field guide to all things whisk(e)y. Learn the lingo, dive into the histories of famous Scottish and American distilleries, get buying tips, cocktail recipes, and more.

regions_of_scotland_tasting_set
Drinks by the Dram is a genius business idea making high-end whiskey (and other spirits) more accessible for the masses. Tasting sets feature 3oml wax-sealed bottles of otherwise rare and expensive bottles. For instance, their Regions of Scotland tasting kit ($57.06) includes a sample of Glenfarclas 40 year old, which retails for $499 for a 750ml bottle. You’ll want to place your order soon if you want it to arrive before Christmas, as this company is based out of the UK.

silver banded punch bowl
For the party host on your list, this silver banded punch bowl ($129.95) is not only the ultimate crowd-pleaser, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Add a copy of Kara Newman’s Cocktails for a Crowd ($13.91) full of punch recipes, and you’ll ensure your name is always on the guest list.

Dizzy Gifts 2011

‘Tis the season for spreading holiday cheer–and no, that doesn’t necessarily mean spending money–but if you’re in the market for some last-minute gifts for your favorite cocktailians, check out this Dizzy-approved shopping guide:


Do you have a tiki drinker on your list? Hook them up with the B.G. Reynolds Sampler Pack, featuring 5 oz. bottles of passion fruit syrup, orgeat, falernum and Don’s Mix, as well as a recipe booklet and swizzle sticks, all for$18. And if you want to add tiki mugs, B.G.’s got those too.


Royal Rose Syrups make perfect gifts for imbibers and teetotalers alike–add them to your next cocktail, homemade soda, or drizzle on top of your favorite dessert. Make locally in small batches, flavors include rose, lavender-lemon, raspberry, three chiles or tamarind, while cardamom-clove is especially useful for holiday drink-making. Purchase 8-oz. bottles for $11 each or go for a four-pack sampler for $44.


Cocktail geeks and history buffs alike will be thrilled to unwrap their own copy of “Prohibition” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick ($30), a documentary aired on PBS earlier this year chronicling America’s noble-yet-disastrous experiment. Captivating, educational, and at times, sobering, the film digs deep to reveal America’s political and moral struggle with its own alcoholic tendencies.


Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide: 75th Anniversary Edition, edited by Jonathan Pogash, aka the Cocktail Guru, is a classic drink-mixing guide featuring more than 1,500 recipes including nearly 200 new recipes from today’s best bartenders. Order yours for $10 on Amazon.com or get a signed copy for $20 here.


Nothing classes up a home bar quite like a Mad Men-style ice bucket, and this Crate & Barrel version delivers ($50). Of course, you’ll want to toss in a pair of tongs ($9) too.


Although on back-order until late January, The PDT Cocktail Book ($17) is a must-have for any serious bartender. Jim Meehan, head bartender at the infamous hot dog shop/speakeasy, spills his secrets of the trade along with more than 300 recipes, all charmingly illustrated by Chris Gall. Note that many of the recipes call for ingredients that are hard to find outside of NYC and other major cities, but the culinary prowess behind them should keep readers inspired to try their own variations.


Hand-cracked ice is not only an impressive start to any cocktail (such as juleps, swizzles and shrubs), it also dilutes the acidity. This handsome ice pick from Williams-Sonoma ($60) should satisfy any ice geek’s desire to crush it.


For the cocktailian who has everything, this stag head pourer ($26) from Pottery Barn should turn heads. Toss the standard plastic pourers and easily measure drinks by the ounce with this charming reindeer version.

Dizzy Gifts 2010

‘Tis the season to show your loved ones some good cheer with food, drinks, acts of kindness, and of course, presents! Ok, so we don’t have to let Retail America control our holiday celebrations — there’s plenty of ways to show that you care without spending money (check out my round-up of DIY cocktailian gifts from last year), but chances are, you’ll get some joy out of giving and receiving gifts this season. Need ideas for your favorite imbiber? Feast your eyes on this Dizzy-approved shopping list:

Know a cocktail fan who does a lot of frequent flying? The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set ($18.99) is designed to pass TSA standards and includes 20ml bottles of celery, orange, creole, old time, and Jerry Thomas bitters.

Every cocktail lover needs a good flask — how else are we supposed to enjoy Negronis in broad daylight or during office hours? This leather-covered vessel from J. Crew ($34.95) will separate the debonair from the debaucher.


Flip through more than 80 elegant recipes of Prohibition-inspired tipples in “Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined” ($24.99) by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. The West Village master mixologists break down variations on the classics and creations of their own.

Krystina Castella was smart enough to write “Booze Cakes” ($12 ) a cookbook combining everyone’s two favorite loves — booze and baked goods. She might not have the recipe for my infamous whiskey old fashioned cake in there, but you will find knockout photos and recipes of confections such as Pina Colada Cake, White Russian Cupcakes and Honey Spice Beer Cake.


Know someone who’s just getting started in bartending or could use a refresher? “The Big Bartending Book” by and Jeff Masson and Greg Boehm ($9.95) offers clear instructions on how to whip up 1,000 top cocktails and plenty of advice to give newbies confidence behind the stick.

 

This is a great idea for wine lovers — A Date With Wine bottle stopper ($45) makes it easy to remember when you last opened that delicious bottle of vino. You’ll never drink musty, overexposed wine again.


And how gangsta are these shot glasses? Mug Shots ($16.95) is a set of six shot glasses featuring the mugs of the most notorious gangsters in history, from Al Capone to Bugsy Siegel.

There are plenty of funky-shaped bottle openers out there, but this iron set of Nambu Tekki Tool Bottle Openers ($20 each) look cool hanging in your kitchen and have versatility — such as for smashing up some ice.


If you were at the Holiday Spirits Bazaar (recap to come), then hopefully you got a chance to try SkimKim’s Blooody Kim Jong-Il Mix ($10), a tantalizing blended kimchee bloody mary mix. Beyond vodka, I would pour this on just about everything, from tacos to meatloaf, or just eat it straight from the jar — it’s that good.

Give your home bar an instant soda fountain with the SodaStream Red Crystal Soda Maker ($179.95), which turns ordinary water into sparkling water or soda. Easy to transport, no electricity required, and if you buy it at Sur La Table, they will recycle the spent carbonation canisters for you and give you a discount on new ones.

You can search flea markets far and wide for a decent punch bowl, but if you are looking to give a punch serving set as a last-minute gift, look no further than Crate & Barrel’s Virginia Punch Bowl Set ($136.95). The elegant footed bowl and cups made of handblown and molded glass will turn any house party into a dignified soiree.