Bartenders, mail carriers, your building’s super — we all deserve a little love over the holidays. But finding a thoughtful Christmas gift for someone who pours drinks for a living is not as easy as it may seem. Here are nine gifts that all the bartenders in your life would appreciate this holiday season.
1. A pair of sensible clogs
Non-slip clogs bring joy to anyone who stands on their feet for a living. Any bartender can crush a 10-hour shift with ease in these babies from Dansko. Plus the slight platform heel makes you stand straighter and gives you a subtle height boost, all the better to peer down on your patrons. Even if your bartender friend already has a pair, they can always use a funkier pair than their regular black ones to cheer up their work outfits.
2. Booze, especially if it’s something unique
A bottle of local mezcal from your trip to Oaxaca or a hard-to-find amaro make great gifts for bartenders. We’re surrounded by booze for a living, so it’s best to make it something strange or special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though. Homemade bitters or cheap beer from your hometown would be just as thoughtful.
3. A beautifully-illustrated cocktail book
Bartenders enjoy learning new tricks and recipes. Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold is a great read for long-time bartenders because it scientifically deconstructs the craft of bartending in such a way that even an experienced bartender will look at their cocktails in a whole new light. Imbibe!, Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, and The Craft of the Cocktail are all great options, too.
4. A massage ball
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A professional massage is even better, but if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, a mini massage ball is a godsend for a bartender. Years of keg-lifting and cocktail-shaking causes repetitive stress on our arms, shoulders, and legs. Massage balls let you target areas of pain and work out tense muscle groups. We can all use a little tension release.
5. Fancy hand lotion
Bartending does a number on the hands, especially in winter. Help your favorite bartender keep things moisturized by gifting a fancy lotion. Since it’s the holidays, we recommend springing for something a bit nicer than Lubriderm, such as the collection from L’Occitane. Though O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream is a classic if you’re looking for something a bit more rugged.
6. A sensible backpack
From bar kits to uniforms, bartenders often have to tote their tools from home to work. Help us upgrade our promo totes and old gym bags by gifting us a carry-all that is a bit more professional. A grown-up backpack such as this one from Baggu, in canvas or leather, is a good blend of practicality and style.
7. A nice paring knife
Paring knives are an essential part of a bartender’s toolkit. We use them every day to prep fruit for garnishes and muddling. Most bars supply knives, but they often get lost, misplaced, or left unsharpened. Make life easier by gifting a bartender their own personal paring knife. Make it a high-quality brand like Opinel and that knife will last for years.
8. A smoking cloche
If you’re looking for a more whimsical gift option, try a smoking cloche. This at-home smoker allows your bartender buddy to experiment with smoking their cocktails. They can use different types of woods, herbs, and spices to create complex, smoke-infused beverages. It looks cool as hell and could make for some interesting cocktail parties.
9. A huge tip
Nothing makes us bartenders happier than generous tips. So, this holiday season, throw down 30 percent for those Christmas Eve cocktails or leave an extra $20 for that bartender that also gets you a round. ‘Tis the time of year to pay it forward.