Whiskey conditioned coffee, rosemary-mint simple syrup, Irish cream liqueur, craft bourbons, gins and vodkas — the list reads like a cocktail menu. It’s not, though.
It’s what should be on your holiday shopping list, at least if your friends and family are anything like mine. They’re not happy to just sip cocktails at a bar. They want to re-create their favorites, tinker with unique ingredients and up their drink style at home, too.
Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to surprise them with gifts that do just that. Area liquor stores remain the go-to for new offerings from Kansas City distilleries, but other local retailers are adding to their cocktail offerings as well.
Stores like Mid Coast Modern in Westport, Urban Provisions General Store in the East Bottoms, Lee’s Summit’s Libations & Company and multiple Made in Kansas City and The Better Cheddar locations offer a range of cocktail accoutrements.
So what to buy? These are my favorite ideas. Whether you’re shopping for the curious or committed (or yourself), there’s sure to be something that fits.
▪ Travis Stewart Cocktail Ornaments ($20 each or three for $50) — Artist and bartender Travis Stewart’s collectable ornaments feature prints of his original cocktail-themed artwork centered on reclaimed tin lids from sherry canisters and protected by a layer of UV-resistant resin. A portion of the proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City. www.travisstewartarts.com
▪ Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur ($29.99 for 750 milliliters) — Holladay Distillery’s newest release is made with cream from five dairy farms in County Cork, Ireland, and triple-distilled Irish whiskey. Available now at the Holladay Welcome Center and McCormick on Main in Weston and at Kansas City-area retailers by mid-December. www.holladaydistillery.com
▪ Barrel-Conditioned Brazil Fazenda Do Serrado coffee ($17.50 for 8 ounces) — Parisi Artisan Coffee conditions green coffee in a used Tom’s Town Distilling Co. bourbon barrel before roasting it. Once brewed, the coffee is rich with whiskey character and aroma. Available at Parisi’s cafes and online. www.parisicoffee.com
▪ Meehan’s Bartender Manual ($40, Ten Speed Press, 2017) — Jim Meehan compresses centuries of distilling and cocktail history, modern innovations and technique; industry insight; and the origin, logic and hacks for 100 cocktails into a single tome. There are chapters on professional bar design and hospitality, too, but you don’t have to be a pro to appreciate the timely and vast resource that this book is. www.mixographyinc.com
▪ Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey Collector’s Bottle ($35 for 750 milliliters) — J. Rieger & Co. dressed its Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey for the season in this limited-edition packaging inspired by a holiday advertisement from 1911. Available throughout Kansas City. www.jriegerco.com
▪ Sap Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup ($19 for 200 milliliters) — Kansas City-based Sap Syrup ages pure, Grade-A maple syrup from Minnesota in local whiskey barrels. Use the nonalcoholic syrup to bring bourbony sweetness to cocktails, baked goods, meat, vegetables and, of course, pancakes. Available at area retailers. www.sap-syrup.com
▪ MadeRight Jiggers (stainless steel finish $18; copper, black and gold finish $22) — Mike Strohm of The W in Lee’s Summit designed these sleek and durable jiggers to withstand the rigors of the professional trade, but they also make a stylish addition to any home bar. Available at Libations & Company (www.givedrink.com). www.facebook.com/MadeRightTools/
▪ Boozy Botanicals Gift Set ($24 for three 4-ounce bottles) — Boozy Botanicals’ infused simple syrups deliver the natural flavor of organic flowers, herbs and spices to cocktails, or mix them with sparkling water to create your own sodas. The gift set includes vanilla-allspice, rosemary-mint and cardamom-spice. Available at area retailers. www.boozybotanicals.com
▪ Tom’s Town Sampler ($55 for three 200 milliliter samplers) — Tom’s Town Distilling Co.’s gleaming seasonal sampler includes Corruption Gin, Royal Gold Bourbon and StrongArm Vodka, making it perfect when you don’t know exactly which is the recipient’s favorite spirit. Available at the distillery and area retailers. www.toms-town.com
▪ Swordfish Tom’s Little Black Book Club ($100 per person, or $150 if a pair shares) — A membership in Swordfish Tom’s Little Black Book Club includes a customized book for jotting down tasting notes, recipes and memories, as well as exclusive access to limited allocation spirits. www.facebook.com/Swordfish-Toms-1616559905309245/
▪ Libations & Company Ready-to-Go Cocktail Kits (prices vary) —Libations & Company’s ready-to-go cocktail kits include spirits, mixers, tools and glassware. Gift the Bloody Mary kit to a brunch-loving friend; it includes Restless Spirits Distilling’s Duffy’s Run Vodka, Kansas City Canning Co. Cucumber Dilly Pickles, Toma Artisanal Bloody Mary Mix, a MadeRight Tools stainless steel jigger and two glasses ($80; add bitters for another $20). Old Fashioned, Martini, Shirley Temple and Horsefeather kits are also available, or customize your own. www.givedrink.com
▪ Kansas City Landmark Coasters ($32) — This set of four leather coasters from Flint & Field features images of a Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art shuttlecock, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Western Auto sign and the company’s own original KC Love design, making it as lovely as it is useful. Available at local retailers and online. www.flintandfield.com
▪ S.D. Strong Gift Box (cost varies) — S.D. Strong Distilling combines looks and taste in its gift pack, which includes one of the distillery’s adjustable trucker caps and either a bottle of S.D. Strong Vodka ($43) or Pillar 136 Gin ($54). Available at the distillery (www.sdstrongdistilling.com) or online at www.wineandcheeseplace.com.
▪ Snow Pops ($1.99 each) — Snow & Co.’s buy-and-freeze Snow Pops cocktails are stocking stuffer size, and flavors include Blue Velvet (blueberry Acai), Mango Unchained and Pink Lady (Cosmo-style cranberry-lime). Think they’d rather make their own? Then give “Sloshies: 102 Boozy Cocktails Straight From the Freezer” (Workman Publishing Co., 2017). Widely available. www.snowandcompany.com
▪ Distillery Cats ($14.99, Ten Speed Press, 2017) — Brad Thomas Parson’s whimsical book, which introduces the feline inhabitants of distilleries and breweries across the country, makes a perfect gift for anyone who loves cats as much as they do cocktails. btparsons.com/distillery-cats-book
▪ Kansas City Canning Co. Shrubs ($16 for 16 ounces) — Kansas City Canning Co.’s sweet-sour shrubs can be mixed in cocktails or combined with club soda for complex yet nonalcoholic cheer. Varieties include blood orange ginger, pickled Bloody Mary mix, beet tarragon, watermelon habanero and apple caraway. Available at area retailers. www.kansascitycanningco.com
▪ Garnishes and bitters (prices vary) — Cocktail “extras” like Dardimans Crispy Blood Orange Slices (float on stirred drinks made with bourbon or amaro, or just nibble) or Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Bourbon Cocktail Cherries (equally good in Manhattans and ice cream sundaes) also make welcome gifts, as do bottles of bitters.
They seem expensive (often $15 or more), but since they’re doled out by the dash, they last forever. Look for brands like Regans Orange Bitters, Hella Bitters, Bar Keep Bitters, Bittermens, Scrappy’s and The Bitter Truth. All are widely available and sold online.
To reach freelance spirits and cocktails columnist Anne Brockhoff, send email to email@example.com