Booze makes great a gift. Things having to do with booze make great gifts. And, for that reason, here's the Cocktail Tales 2014 Holiday Gift Guide:
For someone who loves getting a toy on Christmas, The Homemade Gin Kit ($40) is it. Inside the box is everything necessary to turn 750 milliliters of decent vodka (not included) into two 375-milliliter bottles of gin. And, your recipient can continue gin-making past those first two bottles by purchasing refill tins (available in both "original" and "smoky" blend) from homemadegin.com. Pick up the kit at Progress in South Park.
Inside Polite Provisions is a mini store of craft-cocktail accouterments. You'll find high-quality shakers, jiggers, strainers, spoons and a well-curated selection of bitters and syrups. Grab a few items to put together a home-cocktailing gift basket. Or, tell the nice folks behind the bar that you'd like to purchase The Home Bar Enthusiasts Kit ($50). Put together by Polite Provisions proprietor Erick Castro, it includes two cocktail shakers, a Hawthorne strainer, two jiggers and a 9-ounce bottle of Angostura Bitters. The kit's not available online—you gotta go to the bar to purchase it, giving you a good excuse to try the really nice holiday cocktails currently on the menu.
The Bar Book by Jennifer Fielder, with its bright-orange, art-deco cover, is hard to miss at the Library Shop at the New Central Library. This is a gorgeous book from front to back that, alphabetically—absinthe to Zombie—defines cocktail terms and includes 115 recipes. For the more serious home cocktailer, grab Death & Co. Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day. Day and Kaplan opened OG cocktail spot Death & Co. in New York City in 2006, and Fauchald is a former Food & Wine editor. Grab a copy at Warwick's in La Jolla.
Earlier this year, Ryan Andrews (Heat Supper Club, Golden State Spirits), Alex Maynard (Jaynes Gastropub) and Cora Tang (a former local who's now at San Francisco's Holy Water) created The Drinking Deck ($10). Each card in this deck of playing cards—beautifully illustrated by Tang—has a classic cocktail recipe on the back. The suit is the type of glass in which you'd serve the cocktail and all face cards feature interesting tales about the history and culture of cocktails. Go to thedrinkingdeck.com to purchase a set.
And, finally, to make good use of those sock-monkey bottle covers (you've got, like, three in the wrapping-paper drawer, no?), here are some suggested spirits to give to your favorite cocktail snob: Grand Poppy Organic Liqueur (a California take on a classic aperitif), Ballast Point's Devil's Share bourbon or Old Grove Gin (both won a silver medal at the 2014 American Craft Spirits Association awards). Or, head to Krisp Market (1036 Seventh Ave., Downtown) and browse the phenomenal selection of spirits, syrups and mixers that deserve a column of their own.