L.A. Cocktail Geek Holiday Gift Ideas


I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you all what I want for Christmas. (Kidding… sorta.) Seriously, though, shopping for your favorite L.A. cocktail enthusiast can be a little intimidating. After being dragged around to their favorite drink spots and seeing the way they study cocktail menus and cite the history of every classic cocktail, you know that it’ll take more than a bottle of random whiskey or a set of martini glasses to get their eyes to sparkle when they unwrap that present. If you really want to touch their heart, consider these gift ideas, all with an L.A. cocktail twist.

Cocktail-Centric Artwork by Matt Talbert: These cocktail still lifes would make a wonderful addition to any custom-made redwood-paneled home bar. Bar owner Aidan Demarest even has a portrait of himself by Talbert hanging up in his Glendale bar, Neat. But for the cocktailian who has it all, splurge on the 16-by-16-inch limited edition canvas print of “With a Twist,” which is signed and numbered by the artist; there are only 50 available. ($30 to $3,600, depending on the piece)

Cocktail Fundamentals Class at SLS’s SAAM in The Bazaar: This popular upscale cocktail class series (the wait list for the last class was 50 people long), lead by the restaurant’s boisterous mixologist Rob Floyd, takes place in the private chef tasting room of The Bazaar. Bent more toward foodies than cocktail nerds, the monthly class offers a bit of cocktail history lesson, a few fun hands-on applications and a lot of tasting including bar bites by chef José Andrés. Upcoming classes include January’s “From Russia With Love” vodka class with a caviar and vodka pairing as well as a vodka tasting via ice luge, and February’s “Drinks of the Bacchus” with Kir Royal flights. ($75)

Drink Tokens for 1933 Group Bars: The next round is on you with this bag of four drink tokens, which are good at any of the 1933 bars—Bigfoot Lodge, Bigfoot West, La Cuevita, Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Sassafras Saloon, Thirsty Crow, and even Bigfoot San Francisco. ($28)

Photograph by Alexander Kwong

Gin & Luck Rucksack: For the traveling cocktail geek, there’s the ultimate bartender backpack by hospitality consulting firm Proprietors LLC, the guys behind the cocktail programs at Bar + Kitchen and Stella Rossa. Made of durable canvas and sporting waterproof compartments as well as saddlebags for toting bottles, it’s perfect for those who’d rather bring their own bars to holiday house parties. The multipurpose bag also comes with a lined toolkit and shaker sleeve, but its roomy main chamber also contains a lined compartment for 15-inch laptops or dry ingredients. ($289)

Tiki-Ti’s Christmas MugI dare you to not smile when you see this little Tiki god looking as if he’s singing along with Justin Timberlake and Adam Samberg in that beloved “Saturday Night Live” Christmas video. This limited edition 20-ounce Kahuna Kalikimaka Tiki Mug by Tiki Farm—the largest tiki mug manufacturer in the world—will be the crown jewel of any tiki mug collection. It’s available at Tiki-Ti Cocktail Lounge in Silver Lake, which is closed Christmas week, by the way. ($25)

Image courtesy David Stolte

Home Bar Basics Mini Cocktail Prints: If your drink-loving friend already possesses a copy of the Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics) cocktail recipe book by Southern California-based author/artist Dave Stolte, there’s no doubt that they’ve also fallen in love with the little cocktail characters in the book. The 6.5-by-6.5-inch prints of a flying Aviation or a Manhattan standing akimbo will bring a bit of whimsy to any home bar. ($25)

Miracle Mile Bitters Gingerbread Bitters:
This special holiday bitters, which is available at Bar Keeper in Silver Lake, is infused with ginger, allspice and nutmeg and sweetened with molasses and maple syrup. It’s the ideal holiday hostess gift, rounding out eggnog and hot-butter rum and even making bourbon cocktails more festive. ($25.95)