If I was to suggest several must haves for Father’s Day, I would recommend some items that are esoteric, yet attainable on the national market. And why my recommendations? I have, according to many, the abilities as a “taste-maker” so please allow me that small slice of an opportunity to share some of my Father’s Day gifts for the home cocktail bar.
If you are like my friend Brendan Edwards, your cocktail bar has many hundreds of bottles in it. None of them you will recognize. This is a blessing in an age of industrialization of the liquor industry. Friends like Brendan don’t only have one kind of Mezcal, he might have a dozen or more. So, let me please recommend a Mezcal that I think is entry level, but doesn’t drink like it: Del Maguey is the name, and their VIDA Mezcal makes for a wonderful and thoughtful gift. It will cost about 30 or so dollars.
A wonderful bottle of aged rum makes for a thoughtful gift for a Dad or even a Granddad. But before you grab the darkest one on the shelf, please allow me the chance to teach you a little something. The darkest one may not be the oldest rum. Far from with the addition of caramel coloring to make your brain think that dark means old. Actually, it’s the opposite.
Dark rum is usually colored to give it the appearance of what your brain says is old. Rum, like whisky gets lighter as it gets older, not darker! Does your rum add caramel? I’ll bet you that it does. Find yourself a bottle of Foursquare Rum. There is no caramel in the bottle, nor glycerin, nor is this bottle chill-filtered or heavily filtered. Nope, none of those things are done to Foursquare. It’s not cheap plonk and you’ll pay handsomely for the pleasure. But isn’t Dad worth it?
If you are up in Massachusetts, grab a bottle of Privateer Rum. It’s hard to find outside the state, but if you’re near the North Shore, get some for Dad.
If your dad likes gin, may I suggest a wonderful gin, available almost all over the country named Barr Hill. This gin is not your usual London Dry style nor is it a pure botanical gin. Barr Hill is thoughtfully crafted from raw honey and local grains from the lush state of Vermont.
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The raw honey comes from local hives and has an aroma of wildflowers and crushed granite. It’s lovely stuff, perfect for a gin and tonic- made with cane sugar tonic water of course!
4. Bourbon Whiskey
A fun bottle of bourbon whiskey should be on the shopping list. I’m pretty sure that Barrell Bourbon is available nearly everywhere and you should definitely try to find a bottle or two for dear old Dad. If he loves a truly luxury mint julep that no one on his block will ever have, listen up. Google “barrell bourbon” and find a highly limited-edition bottle for Dad. I’ll bet he won’t look at his favorite bourbon the same way again.
5. Rye Whiskey
Rye Whiskey is getting hotter and hotter. I’ve done some recent tastings of the new Barrell Rye whiskey, but most won’t be able to buy it; it has such limited availability. If you have developed a palate for Rye, I’d find the Hudson Spirits Manhattan Rye. That little bottle (375ml) looks gorgeous on Dad’s bar. It really makes a thoughtful gift and I’m pretty sure you can buy it almost all over the country. You can also find Redemption Rye on the market. It’s delicious stuff and makes a better mint julep thank most rye that I’ve tasted recently under 75 dollars.
6. Cocktail Tin
If your Dad still is using a glass and tin for their cocktail shaking endeavors, it’s time to throw these dangerous vestiges of another era out and get some really nice, shiny new cocktail tins. Koriko makes the most gorgeous weighted mixing tin that money can buy. I have many mixing tins in my kit, but my weighted Koriko tins are so elegant to use. They make me look like a professional. (Even more, because they are just so easy to shake…). They can be found on the interwebs or your local mixology store.
7. Glass Beaker Set
Are you still shaking your gin martini cocktails? Stop it right now. Gin is never meant to be shaken in a Martini. It must be stirred. I know this discussion will raise some eyebrows, but at the end of the day — a gin Martini is a stirred Martini. End of story. To make the best gin based Martini, you must use the perfect glass vessel to do so. I use a scientific mixing vessel for mixing my Martini cocktails. These containers can be found at any laboratory supply company- usually through Amazon.
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Dad will appreciate the science lab quality of mixing a perfectly formed Martini in a handsomely designed graduated cylinder. His drink will be exceptional and will not disappoint, nor will it be diluted by too much water from the melting ice in a hand shaker. A Martini is a strong drink. Drinking a Martini is a serious endeavor. Please let me encourage you to build this cocktail like your Dad would want you to… with reverence and amble good manners!
8. Stainless Steel Stirrer
What are you mixing your drinks with? A piece of wood? If you want to up your bartending game in the home bar, make sure that your cocktail mixer is made of stainless-steel. Sometimes you can muddle (smash) your ingredients on one side, and find a bar spoon on the other side. I’m a fan of the one from Cocktail Kingdom, it’s weighted nicely and fits nicely in the hand.
If you follow my advice and purchase any of these ingredients or tools your home bar game will certainly look professional. And if you are at all a cocktail nerd like my above-mentioned friend, you don’t have just one set of cocktail mixing cans- you have many of all different sizes and forms! Dad has great taste! Make him look better by giving him the best tools that money can buy!