5 Gifts for the Cocktail Lover Heather Hoch
Craft cocktailing has become as much a culinary art as any entrée in recent years, which means you likely know someone who falls into the category of amateur mixologist. While these drinks often rely on fresh produce and handmade syrups and tinctures, there are some great locally made products that you can buy for the aspiring bartender's home collection to spice up their imbibing life.
Figgy Pudding Bitters from AZ Bitters Lab
Almost every great craft cocktail bar in Phoenix uses one of AZ Bitters Labs boutique bitters in a drink or two. Inspired by bartenders' ingenuity in town, local couple Bill and Lill Buitenhuys decided to pitch into the scene and make some truly unique bitters combinations with explosive flavors. The figgy pudding bitters is a great addition to any holiday cocktail due to its intense cinnamon, cardamom and clove spicing with a fig and currant base. You can buy a bottle of figgy pudding bitters, along with the two other flavors, for $18.95 on the AZ Bitters Lab's website or pick them up in person at Wedge & Bottle, JAM, Sun Devil Liquors and the new Whole Foods in Phoenix.
Copper City Bourbon from Arizona Distilling Co.
The mark of any burgeoning cocktail scene is the advent of locally distilled spirits and thanks to Yucca Tap Room's Rodney Hu and his high school buddies Arizona has met that mark with the state's first legally produced liquor since Prohibition. The smooth bourbon is all about keeping it local, with locally made art gracing the bottle with a nod to Arizona's history. It also uses Arizona grown durum wheat and is the only bourbon to do so. After aging in oak barrels for about five years, this Tempe-made bourbon is a must-try for locavores and cocktail lovers alike. You can find it at Tops Liquor, Gilbert Convenient Mart and Sun Devil Liquors.
Recycled Wine Bottle Glasses from Refresh Glass
Reduce, reuse, recycle and imbibe with Refresh Glass' line of repurposed wine bottle tumblers. The Tempe glassware operation provides everything from unique lighting fixtures to glasses to candle holders to local spots like The Vig and Phoenix Public Market Cafe. The glasses come in four packs of both 12 ounce and 16 ounce glasses for $24 and $28 respectively. The best part is the glasses come in every color a wine bottle would, from dark green to amber to antique with a bluish hue. All of Refresh's glassware, including the glasses, carafes and candleholders, are available for purchase on the company's website.
Vintage Barware from Retro Ranch
Every home bartender needs a few pieces of decorative flare to set their cocktail collection apart from friends'. Retro Ranch has an ever-changing, but always impressive, selection of swizzles, shakers, carafes, glasses and decanters to jazz up any home bar. Prices range from $10 highball glasses to $15 tiki glasses to $20 shakers and $45 decanters, so it's really up to you what you'd like to shell out. The best part of Retro Ranch's barware is your eccentric imbibing friend is sure to stand out, guaranteeing no one else will have the same piece in their collection.
John's Tonic Syrups from John's Premium
Show that gin lover in your life some love with the recipe for the perfect gin and tonic courtesy of John's Premium tonic syrups. While tonic water is a standard bar mixer, John's goes above and beyond by making small batch syrups with cinchona bark and organic agave nectar. The flavor of the tonic syrup, in particular, is so sharp, citrusy and sweet that you'll have a hard time going back to Schweppe's after your first taste. It can be mixed with seltzer water or served straight up with your favorite spirit. Buy your own bottle to try, along with one as a gift, at Astor House, Wedge & Bottle and on the John's Premium website.