5 great gifts for the home bartender

The celebration of the cocktail continues as bars all over town are mixing up their own bitters and infusing everything in sight with herbs, berries, and branches.  People are chipping their own ice shards and buying seltzer makers. It's all delightfully creative and wonderfully boozy. 

For the fiend on your gift list who wouldn't dare stoop to a maraschino cherry, check out our list to get their mixers shaken and stirred. With any luck, they might even share.

5. Northstar Cocktails by Johnny Michaels ($19.95)
The books is as fun to read as it is to use.   Some recipes require weeks to create, but all sound delicious, with names like Alive With Pleasure and Algernon's Afterparty.  In addition to Michaels's recipes, the book also features concoctions from some of the North Star Bartenders Guild's great minds like Pip Hanson and Jesse Held of Marvel Bar, Adam Harness of Cafe Maude, Dan Oskey of the Strip Club, and many more.  Meanwhile, Michaels, who works at La Belle Vie, has been brought in to consult on other bar menus, and has been featured in GQ, is donating all the book's proceeds to the SPCA.  Great cocktails, and it saves kittens! What's not to love?

4. Surdyk's gift card
While, yes, it can be argued that the gift card is a cop out, it's important to remember that booze can cost big money.  Home bartenders would love to get a gift card that allows them to add an expensive bottle of base liquor to their cabinet or a special liqueur they've had their eye on.   If the blanket gift card is unbearable, use the encyclopedic knowledge of Surdyk's staff to search for fascinating bottles like Farigoule, a thyme-infused French liqueur, or perfect gimlet maker: Death's Door gin from Wisconsin.

Endless cocktail ideas start with the right bitters
Endless cocktail ideas start with the right bitters

3. Bittercube Bitters set ($48)
When Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz arrive at an event, it's evident the party is about to begin.  The dapper duo are the masterminds of Bittercube, available at select Minneapolis locations (Surdyk's, Kitchen in the Market, and through their website.) Each batch is crafted by their knowing hands. (Kosevich used to be the main bar man at Town Talk Diner.)  The website is also full of endless drink ideas.  Or go crazy and add the Bolivar bitters in place of vanilla to your holiday sugar cookie recipes and serve to house guests.  Blow their minds with your awesomeness.

2. Barware (costs vary)
The hip drinking elite need some sort of service.  Check out all the cool selections at Corazon, the hip, indie gift store, described by one fan as "like Patina before it lost its mind."  Stunning glasses are available at both locations on Lake Street. Or do it up Mad Men style and hit a vintage store always stocked with unique finds, like Succotash. Located on Raymond, just off University, the store has been plagued by the construction hassles, but it's easy to get to and is surrounded by ample parking.  Heck, you can pick up a whole bar here along with tiki mugs and giant glass ashtrays to place atop it.

1.Bitter Than Most Bitters set ($29.99)
The importance and fun of bitters can't be overstated, nor can the creative mind behind this great gift idea, our Best Bartender Dan Oskey.  Oskey has spent this year working behind the bar at the Strip Club Meat and Fish and creating new flavors for his business venture Joia Soda, and we imagine his home to be filled like a mad scientist's laboratory.  His latest project is as a teacher through this fun kit.  Home mixologists can craft their own flavors. Each kit creates 10 ounces of bitters, which, considering how little is necessary in a drink, means these will either last forever or make a great re-gift.  Available exclusively at the Wine Market in Mendota Heights.

Previous coverage:

5 great gifts for foodies 5 great gifts for foodie geeks

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