Giving presents to the aspiring home bartender is the gift that keeps on giving. Sure, occasionally there'll be a miss, especially later in the evenings (ahem, plantain daiquiris), but all the experimentation gets to be drunk. Here are five ways to get your mixologist started.
1. A copy of “Home Bar Basics (And Not-So-Basics)” by Dave Stolte
Dave Stolte, an OC-based illustrator with an extensive home bar, has
written the definitive guide for people who don't blush at the idea of
making falernum at home. At homebarbasics.com, $12.99.
2. A Boston Shaker
Ever wondered why you needed to wash that stupid Slinky-looking
Hawthorne strainer every time you need to strain something? A Boston
shaker and some skill are all you need for most drinks. From thebostonshaker.com, $14.50.
3. An electric juicer
Real bartenders don't use neon-green margarita mix. They don't use
orange juice from a frozen can. An electric juicer will save your
would-be barkeep's hands. From any department store, $30 and up.
4. Infusing jars and herbs and spices to play with
Now it's legal to infuse liquor and sell it; of course, home bartenders have been doing it for a long time. Infusing jars from $6 at any kitchen supply store; herbs and spices from Savory Spice Stop or myspicesage.com.
5. Gift card to Hi-Time Liquors
Hundreds of tequilas? Thousands of vodkas (useful mostly for creating
tinctures, not for drinking by itself)? Zillions of scotches, bottles of
odd wines, and amari nobody's ever heard of? Give a gift card and let
the budding bartender go crazy. Take it from the voice of experience:
it's hard to spend less than $100 there. Not in OC? Chances are there's
that one liquor store in your town that stocks all the weird stuff. 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa; hitimewine.net.