Are you wondering what to get the beloved boozebags in your life? I bet you're not, right? You're just going to give them all bottles of randomly selected $30 brown liquor, or maybe those stupid little chocolates stuffed with a quarter-squirt of skanky schnapps, or the first gin-and-martini-glasses boxed set you see at the liquor store on your last-minute trip to make sure there's enough Bailey's for grandma's coffee.
Come on, don't be like that. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the alcholophiles in your life would have a broader range of interests if only they had a little more reason to believe in their fellow man's good intentions? Show them you care this year, and maybe by this time next year they'll be fully evolved humans capable of appreciating sweaters and toasters and all that other useless shit that doesn't get a body drunk.
Don't get your drinker any more pint glasses or oversized triangle-shaped martini glasses. He has plenty. He's probably also all set on stemless wine glasses. How about springing for some classic cocktail coupes? I like these 5.5-ounce models; most cocktail glasses are too big, to accommodate ice cubes and sticky mixers and all the other drink-wreckers the enlightened home-lush has long since abandoned.
Most beer freaks will tell you that shaker pint glasses are to be avoided. I like tulip-shaped glasses myself. They feel make me feel pretty and sophisticated, and I guess they're supposed to funnel the right aromas to the right parts of your nose or whatever.
You know all those drink recipes that call for a lemon-twist garnish? You've seen those recipes, right? And you've even been served a few twisted drinks in bars. You can do that at home, you know. And it will make your drink 10 times better. This thing costs $4. Get a dozen to pass out to any thirsty-looking people you encounter in the post office or wherever between now and Christmas.
Sometimes you need more than just the zest, though. Sometimes you need real live citrus juice, like when you want to make sour mix or a festive quantity of daiquiris or whiskey smashes. The stand-up ones are great if they fit your budget and your recipient's counter space. Otherwise, the handheld versions work fine, too.
These come in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer the big-ass cubes that keep your drink cold forever without melting.
No matter how hungover you are, you're never farther than a new pair of socks away from feeling fresh as a daisy.
I'm all for giving ambitious drinkers all sorts of obscure bitters, but how about just a nice jug of good old-fashioned maple syrup? A half-shot of sweet tree gravy is all you need to turn a simple whiskey-and-grapefruit into a reason to live forever.
Tasting Beer, by Randy Mosher. This dude better know what he's talking about, because just about everything I tell you guys in beer reviews is lifted straight from this book.
The Complete Beer Course, by Joshua Bernstein. This book educates you about beer styles by encouraging interactive learning, i.e., drinking while you read.
The Oxford Companion to Beer, by Garrett Oliver. This, from the head guy at Brooklyn Brewery, is the ultimate beer resource.
The 12 Bottle Bar, by David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Salmonson. Be the most productive and efficient stay-at-home drunk you can be.
Tasting Whiskey, by Lew Bryson. Whiskey can be confusing; Lew will smarten you up.
Drinking with Men, by Rosie Schaap. This joins Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life and Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story in the modern alco-memoir cannon.
The Old-Fashioned, by Robert Simonson. History's like whiskey in that it's very good for you and Simonson knows a lot about it.
Portable breathalyzers are great for conscientious people who are drinking cocktails with uncertain quantities of unfamiliar ingredients—how much crème de violette is in your drink, and what proof is it? Is this one of those stouts that's 4-percent ABV, like Guinness, or is it one of the 15-percent barrel-aged Russian imperial DUI-makers that are all the rage these days? (Just don't give this to anyone likely to view it as a challenge rather than a precaution, i.e., any male under the age of 25.)
These look cool as hell, but I've never bought one, because they're expensive—the six-liter bottle of St. Bernardus Abt 12 at my local beer store costs $199.99, or roughly a buck an ounce, which is twice what I pay for the regular 750mL bottles. But who cares! It's Christmas! Get your beloved beer drinker one of these bad joints and let him figure out how to pour it.
Don't take the easy way out and give your Jameson drinker a bottle of Jameson. Give her the superior (and roughly twice as expensive) Redbreast 12-Year-Old Irish Whiskey.
If you've got an Overholt or Rittenhouse fan on your hands, blow that mind with a bottle of Whistle Pig 100/100 Rye.
Hennessy is great, but rather than reach for one of their special bottlings, consider classing up your giftee's brandy situation with some ridiculously good (and expensive) Etude Winery Pinot Noir Alembic Brandy from Napa.
You get the idea. Now go forth and spread joy. Happy holidays from your loyal enablers at Drunkspin.
Image by Sam Wooley.