During the holiday season, the service industry provides everyone with liquid cheer and a festive atmosphere—all while navigating grueling hours, less-than-desirable shifts, and the occasional stressed-out Scrooge customer. No one deserves a thoughtful gift more than a beverage industry employee working in the thick of it.
SevenFifty Daily contacted bar owners, managers, and mixologists around the country to get their top gift picks for other drinks professionals. From stocking stuffers to multipiece bar sets, here are seven holiday gift ideas to treat your hard-working staff, manager, and colleagues.
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1. Dr. Scholl's Comfort and Energy Massaging Gel Insoles, $7 to $10
Recommended by Franky Marshall, beverage director at Le Boudoir, New York City
The most meaningful gifts are sometimes practical items that people would never buy for themselves. And all front-of-house service industry workers know the practical importance of taking care of their feet. You may not be able to spring for a pair of Dansko’s for everyone on your team, but these Dr. Scholl’s inserts come pretty close (and make perfect stocking stuffers), says Franky Marshall. “We often neglect our feet,” she says. “While wearing comfortable shoes is a must, you can get an added lift and put some spring in your step with a pair of these.”
2. Corkcicle Air Wine Chiller and Aerator, $24.95
Justin Amick, an Advanced Sommelier, a wine educator, and the owner of the boutique bowling bar The Painted Pin, says the multitasking Corkcicle Air is a go-to for friends, family, and colleagues alike. “It’s a fun and inexpensive gift for everyone,” he says. “It chills white wines and brings reds to cellar temperature, all while aerating during the pour.” And given the price point, it’s fit for a family stocking stuffer or a staff gift.
3. Bottesi Sibyl Collection Stainless Steel Strainers, $28 to $35 each ($99 for the set)
Recommended by Chris Hannah, head bartender at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans
In the past, Hannah has treated his staff to foot massages, gift certificates to the barware shop Cocktail Kingdom, and private-stock bourbon. But recently, he says, he favors the handmade strainers by Madrid-based Bottesi. “Interesting strainers from Bottesi are the rage, and I’ve bought them for my bartenders for three years now,” Hannah says. The brand’s dark aesthetic draws from occult imagery; its intricate stainless steel strainers reference palmistry, an Illuminati-esque eye, and a ouija planchette. Bottesi’s Planchette, Eye, Palmistry, and Tetra strainers can be purchased individually or in a 4-pack set.
4. Pulltap’s X-Tens Corkscrew, $42.95
Recommended by Jared Sadoian, bar manager at The Hawthorne, Boston
“One of the best gifts I’ve ever received that I never thought I needed was a nice, compact wine key,” says Sadoian. After years of using whatever he had lying around (or cheap, branded corkscrews he’d gotten for free at industry events), Sadoian received the sleek, compact Pulltap’s X-Tens corkscrew as a gift. “It changed my whole outlook,” he says. The sliding handle adds crucial leverage without taking up too much room in one’s pocket, and the ergonomic double lever enables easier, smoother, and faster cork removal. Says Sadoian, “I carry it everywhere I go.”
5. Crafthouse by Fortessa Barware, $50 to $250
This line of bar tools designed by Charles Joly, a former Aviary bartender who was named the winner of the Diageo 2014 World Class Bartender of the Year competition, ranks as one of the favorite gifts Jacyara de Oliveira’s received in recent years. “They are just gorgeous, functional, professional-grade bar tools,” she says. “The stainless steel and glass Smoking Box is an incredible piece for professionals looking to wow at an event, and the Boston Shaker is a beautiful competition piece or addition to the home bar.” The line offers a range of prices, from the $50 shaker to the $250 smoking box. A great happy medium is the three-piece bar tool set ($90), which consists of a bar knife, a channel knife, a peeler, and a black walnut cutting board.
6. Urban Bar Ginza Rose Gold Tin on Tin Cocktail Shaker Set, $65
Recommended by Natasha David, co-owner and head bartender at Nitecap, New York City
For stylish bartenders who see their tools as an extension of their style, it’s hard to beat a sleek, handsome set of rose gold barware. Natasha David has her eye on this set from Urban Bar, made from high-grade Japanese steel and finished with rose gold plating. “If someone gifted me this,” she says, “I would be thrilled.” Similar stylish shaker sets are available in stainless steel at Cocktail Kingdom ($99) and copper at Williams Sonoma ($39.99 to $79.95).
7. Robin Mix Handblown Mixing Glass, $100
Recommended by Gaby Mlynarczyk, beverage director at Accomplice, Los Angeles
Gaby Mlynarczyk says she loves shopping for handmade or vintage glassware on Etsy to add to her personal collection. She especially loves the colorful handblown mixing glasses made by Vermont-based glass artist Robin Mix. (You might recognize that all-too-appropriate surname: Mix’s daughter, Ivy, runs the beverage program at New York City’s Leyenda.)
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Gray Chapman is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes about spirits, beauty, and culture; she was formerly the managing editor of Tales of the Cocktail. Follow her on Twitter.