Gift Guide: Cocktailing
He’s making a mix, and stirring it twice; in Galloway’s world, your gifts come on ice… Hey, friends. I’m a bartender by night and, often enough, by day. I have no affiliations with any distillers, vintners, breweries or manufacturers of barware — though sometimes I wish that I did — and I certainly have my personal preferences, opinions and prejudices when it comes to mixology — though sometimes (only rarely), I wish that I didn’t. The following wish list is ranked in no particular order save for the fact that everything on it qualifies, for me, as quality. As it’s my opinion, though, take it with a pinch of salt — and perhaps a tequila shooter. Unless otherwise indicated, all gift pricing is in (sometimes adjusted) Canadian dollars; no pricing includes S&H fees.
John’s Private Cask No. 1, Forty Creek
Always the innovator, Canadian Whisky “rock star” John Hall has scored another big hit with his latest offering: 5 out of 5 stars from Canadian whisky expert Davin de Kergommeaux. One of my new favorites, and a must-have for appreciators of fine whisky. $70.
This has long been one of my favorite whiskys. Smooth as silk and literally screaming autumn, it’s a perfect blend of pot-still rye whiskys, and will always have a home on my bar. Now that it has dropped a bit in price, why not get two? $50.
Doorly’s X.O., Foursquare
One of my all-time favorite rums: All the flavour and complexity you could ask for, and you don’t have to break the bank. One of two powerhouse rum distilleries on the small island of Barbados (there really are three, but I refuse to count Malibu), Foursquare makes a variety of fantastic rums, but Doorly’s X.O. is the only one available in Canada. Perfect for sipping and mixing with respect. $32.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel, Sazerac Company
An icon in the world of Bourbon and definitely one of the most recognizable bottles in the whiskey world, it is no wonder Blanton’s has a permanent home in the hearts of Bourbon lovers (not to mention being showcased in many, many movies and television programs). I would love to have placed the “straight from the barrel” on this list; alas it is not available in Canada as of yet… HINT HINT! $65.
Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Of course, you have all read my Cocktailing piece on vermouth, so you know that the “sweet” or Italian style of vermouth was created in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Dubbed “luxury wine,” it changed café culture forever. Try something very close to the original; your favorite cocktail will never be the same. Drink a Negroni made with anything else after you have had one with Carpano Antica and you will see — and easily taste — what I mean. $65.
Japanese mixing glass
Japanese bar culture is all the rage right now. Like most things, I take what is useful and throw away the rest (a habit more people should adopt). While I don’t feel the need to have a trident on the end of my bar spoon (to blind me should I accidentally lean into it during busy service), or take 10 minutes to carve a single ice ball for but one single customer (and constantly molest that ice with bare hands — I don’t know about you, but I find that a bit gross), I do subscribe to their level of service and I do love some of their tools. This Yarai mixing glass is sleek, stylish and provides maximum functionality. $53.
Parisian cocktail shaker
I do love these Parisian-style cocktail shakers. The one downside is that they don’t have the transparency of the mixing glass portion of the more common Boston Shaker, but since I have my lovely mixing glass as a separate entity, that takes care of that, for the most part. The all-metal design allows for a colder drink without over-dilution, as the thermal capacity is much lower than glass. $63.
Bitters, Brad Thomas Parsons
I cannot wait to read this book. Like many folks in my trade, I am a bit of a bitters fiend. I make many varieties of my own and collect as many others as I can. I have been salivating waiting for this book to hit the shelves in Canada. It’s here! $19.
WMF Loft Strainer
Voted best Hawthorne strainer in a comparison published by the much revered Imbibemagazine; I have wanted this ever since. You can’t beat it for its perfect combination of style and functionality. $23.
Nambe Tilt Decanter set
This one’s simply sexy, no other word for it. Just when I get over the fact that I am unlikely to be able to ever afford their Nambe Twist cocktail shaker (which reminds me of the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator), I find this. This would look amazing on the home bar, minus the fact that literally everything else in my home would now look über-dull by comparison. Ah, screw it — I still want one! $200.