Cocktail Lovers' Anti-Gift Guide: What NOT To Get

Bar Anti Gift Guide.jpg
Just say no.

Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column.

There are some really cool stocking stuffers for aspiring bartenders. Then there are some things that you would think are awesome, but are no better than a lump of coal. This week, here are three things you should think twice about giving.

See Also:
- Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Aspiring Bartender
- Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Beer Lover

The Bar10Der
The Bar10Der is a ten-in-one (see what they did there?) Swiss Army Knife-like bar gizmo that, according to their website, "turns you into a master mixologist in minutes" for only $50. This one item has on it (deep breath) a jigger, muddler, juice reamer, barspoon, strainer, channel knife, zester, knife, corkscrew, and bottle opener. Most of the tools are useless because they are either too small (the stirrer), unbalanced because they're strapped to a big gizmo (the knife), or both (the strainer). The only parts I'd actually use are the jigger and the bottle opener. Fifty bucks for that? Oh hell no. This is as likely to make you a master mixologist as a Swiss Army Knife is going to make you a military mastermind.

Crystal Head Vodka
Crystal Head is vodka bottled in a glass skull, inspired by a New Age story about a bunch of carved quartz skulls that were supposed to come from Mesoamerica millennia before Columbus arrived, but were more likely made in 19th century Europe. It's filtered three times through even more quartz New Age woo-woo. Simply put, it's mediocre vodka that commands a premium price because creator Dan Aykroyd gave it a good story. If your friends love Aykroyd or skulls, I guarantee they already bought a bottle and haven't touched it.

Cobbler Shaker
If you mention "cocktail shaker" to most people, the first image in their minds is the three-piece cobbler shaker. There are some very fancy (and very expensive) ones out there. Take it from me, almost every single one of these shakers sucks like you wouldn't believe. The cheap ones leak everywhere. The little holes that strain the drink get clogged with ice almost instantly. As a final annoyance, the metal contracts as you shake. When you're done shaking, the shaker won't open until it returns to room temperature. While many of these are eye-catching, they're best kept as knickknacks.

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My Voice Nation Help
WreckItWalsh moderator

Sigh I have one of those cheap shakers you were talking about and it has almost all the symptoms you've listed. I wish I read this article before I had bought it. 

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

thanks for the heads-up on the crystal skull vodka, i got a signed one when he was out here promoting it because i am a Aykroyd fan and collect skull stuff. i wondered what it tasted like and considered buying one to try. i'll still keep my signed one, but now i think i'll pass on getting another one for $50 to try. (so, yeah, you nailed it on the head... i collect aykroyd stuff and skulls, and it just sits)


At bartending school, we used two slightly different-sized metal cups to shake our drinks. Great seal, no sticking. None of those silly-looking things with the lids.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

by the way, for a price reference on how you are saying its a premium price for mediocre vodka....$10 for the airline shot, $50 and $100 are the other 2 prices. i wish you would have run this article before i bought mine and one for my sister,


@gtrachel That's the one to get! The 28-ounce Boston shaker tin, and your choice of a 16-ounce mixing glass or cheater tin on the other half. Few improvements to the basic design work; about the only I know is latex-coated ones. Even then, those only help extremely high-volume shaking where you're literally close to frostbite because you're making dozens of drinks an hour.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@JKGrence a real good gift beer (i dont know if you've tried it or not) is Samichlaus bier. they make it once a year and it is goooood!!!  i havent had it in years, but they still make it

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