Weekly Rewind: Gift Ideas {Potables}

Is it too early to start talking about this? I mean, it feels too early to be rushing out and buying things (I’m not a Black Friday person……and don’t even get me started on Grey Thursday), but typically, I’m a notorious procrastinator. I wait until the last minute to buy gifts, to the point where I usually wind up having online purchases shipped directly to my parents’ house. So brainstorming around this time is always a good thing, especially for those of us who just wake up one morning and say, “Holy $#*%, it’s December 20th?! What have I been doing?!”

This is my drink-themed gift run down, which should hopefully be followed by an “{edibles}” version. (I say “hopefully” because I find it a lot easier to zero in on neat drink gifts than food ones, but maybe I just need to do a little more digging.) Also, I promise this post will be followed shortly by an actual recipe. (The above picture is proof that I did actually make something that wasn’t a turkey or 5 lbs of potatoes somewhat recently. They were cookies, and they were awesome.)

1. This is the first year where I was actually able to find something that made me say, “YES, this is the perfect gift for my brother!” Craft Coffee is a company that provides subscribers with monthly Tasting Boxes, featuring 4 oz. samples of three different coffees, which are selected each month through a blind evaluation process. You can choose from 1, 3, 6, or 12-month subscriptions, and the prices are pretty reasonable (especially when you consider the fact that you’ll be receiving an amazing variety of coffees, often times from places you might never have heard of otherwise).

2. This book is on my wishlist this year. Hemingway is well known for his love of drinking, and it seems Greene has done a bang-up job of detailing his proclivities through his characters and personal writings, in a way that no one has really done before. To quote Camper English, “[To Have and Have Another] ends up being a Cliffs Notes study of Hemingway’s books and life through the lens of the cocktails in them.”

3. Another great new book gift for cocktail lovers is The Cocktail Hour set, which is comprised of three books containing new creations or modernized versions of classics from top-notch bartenders and other cocktail creators. The set contains a Rum book, a Gin book, and a Vodka book.

4. If you’re looking for a book for coffee lovers, this is it. I bought this shortly after it came out, and it is loaded with tons of good stuff. Gorgeous pictures. Coffee geekery. And amazing recipes for the goodies served in Blue Bottle cafés. Also, take a tip from me and do not order this through Amazon. The lack of care they put into packaging their hardcover books is consistently appalling. It might be cheaper, but you get what you pay for (dented spines and corners, bent pages, etc.). It’s really a shame for what is an otherwise beautiful book. Buy it direct from the publisher, or your local bookstore.

5. By now, you may have seen this amazing Whisky Advent Calendar that’s been making its way around the internet. Its hefty price tag and the fact that it should really be a pre-Christmas gift makes it a bit impractical for this list (although the more affordable gin version is very tempting), but Drinks by the Dram does a number of phenomenal tasting sets that would be an excellent gift for anyone with specific liquor tastes (especially specific whiskey tastes). The shipping is a bit steep outside of the UK, which is something to consider for US buyers. And unfortunately, a bunch of them appear to already be sold out. But a number of good ones remain, and there’s always hope for restocking!

6. Another great tasting set that I highly recommend is The Bitter Truth’s Bitters Travel Pack. Their bitters are phenomenal, and the shipping is quick and reasonable (considering they’re coming from Germany). I honestly cannot say enough good things about this company. For around $15 you get over 6 oz. of bitters (which is an unreal bang for your buck given the quality, and also considering the fact that I’ve spent the same amount on 2 oz. of bitters that are nowhere near as tasty or inventive). I’m also dying to try their Peach Bitters and Thomas Henry Tonic Bitters (hint hint, J!). And they make a bunch of different liqueurs too, so be sure to check those out as well.

7. Another must-have in the barware arsenal are these ice cube trays. Now, I will admit that, despite my undying love for the giant ice cube, I have resisted buying these. And that’s because I found out you can make something similar in a muffin tin. (What a great idea, right?!) Unfortunately, I’ve never really gotten around to trying to balance a muffin tin filled with water on top of everything else in my freezer, so I haven’t done that either. So, in short, what I’m saying is I’d probably never buy these for myself, based solely on principle. But I would be elated if someone else bought them for me. And that’s why they’re a perfect gift.

8. If you’re looking for a unique, vintage gift for a cocktail lover, just go to Etsy and search for “vintage barware.” You can find amazing old glass sets (like these, these, these, and these!), neat old swizzle sticks, and vintage ice crushers, not to mention the absurdly expensive and impractical (but still really freakin’ cool) novelty shaker. (I was honestly kind of hesitant to post these links at all, because I want most of these things for myself!)

9. And if you’d like to try a more DIY route, consider making a batch of homemade tonic syrup. I’ve followed Jefferey Morgenthaler’s recipe in the past, but I’m also very intrigued by Lottie + Doof’s recipe, which utilizes lavender and involves a different, extended steeping process. You can also try your hand at homemade grenadine. For my next batch, I’d like to try a combination of JM’s recipe and Josh Sullivan’s (of Post Prohibition), using both pomegranate molasses and hibiscus.

10. Aaaand, this last one may be jumping the gun a little bit, as juggling work, holiday chaos, and normal blog upkeep is a hazardous balancing act on its own. Throw in attempts to start a little side biz, and things might just get crazy. BUT, fueled by the insistence of my favorite Burlington restaurant that I stop giving them things and start actually selling items to them, I’ve ordered bottles, made labels, and whipped up more batches of things. Labeling and bottling begins this week! That might sound really professional and probably makes you picture some sort of assembly line, but it will really just be me with a funnel trying to avoid making a sticky mess, and then me skipping around my friend Matt’s laser printer as it runs off labels that took way too much brain power to design. Still, yay!!! I’m hoping to have some things ready in time for the holidays, so stay tuned!


  1. Laura says

    Your labels are beautiful! :) And thanks for the reminder…I hit up Etsy looking for “rum” stuff the other day, and there was just so much to pore through that I forgot to go back and finish the search. But now that I’ve got the word “vintage” to include with it, I might get a little farther. I don’t drink (never have, a single time!), so I can only hope what people label as “rum”-related on there IS actually rum-related, and not just some tag they’ve included to get more hits on their item. Lol.

    • says

      Thank you, Laura! I miss the way Etsy used to divide things up, where you could actually search for things only categorized as “vintage” on their site. But perhaps there’s some advantage to the new method of combining everything together that I haven’t discovered yet.

      There are definitely some neat things that come up when you search for “rum vintage,” especially old advertisements and such. Good luck with your search! :)

  2. says

    Thank you so much for featuring my mid century glass mugs! And I am so happy to be introduced to a blog I haven’t come across yet. Your support of small business is much appreciated. Look forward to seeing more of your posts in the future. :) Nyssa of Nyssa, Ink.

    • says

      Yay!! I’m so glad you found my blog, Nyssa! I’ve had my eye on those mugs for a while now, and I’m going to be super jealous if one of my readers buys them. :D

  3. says

    I really really like those sexy ice cube trays. I can think of a few manly men (menly men?) who would proudly flaunt such oversized cubes. (Size really matters, doesn’t it? Haha.)

    And you must be so excited about your side business! The labels look terrific. And cranberry + cherry sounds like a winning combination. Good luck, miss!

    • says

      Haha! They really are a man’s ice cube, aren’t they? I’ve seen spherical ones that look super cool, but they’re even more expensive than these!

      Oh man, I am really excited to start selling stuff! It will be a very good exercise in organization and discipline too, as both of those are notorious weak points for me. But I figure if anything can get me to get it together, it would be making and selling things that I really enjoy creating. Yay!! :)

  4. says

    Your shrubs are going to make you a star!! Oh, that’s so wonderful. The guy and I were just looking at The Bitter Truth’s bitters set this evening…sadly, we didn’t make the purchase, but it would make a great gift for him :) And those king cubes. I’m also thinking about getting Kevin whiskey stones for Christmas, but he likes his whiskey with a bit of water. Those big ice cubes certainly do the trick. Thanks for this list–you find such fun things!

    • says

      I love the look of those whiskey stones — they are so darn cool. But I know the feeling of enjoying the way your drink changes as the ice melts into it. (There’s a 2-page-long discussion on the importance of ice in The Art of the Bar that totally sold me on ice neurosis.)

      I’m so psyched for my shruuuubs! Now to figure out this whole online storefront biz . . .

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