5 Holiday Gifts for the Aspiring Bartender

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Photo: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

If we could ask someone to upgrade our at-home cocktail game, we'd turn to Eric Alperin. Having designed the beverage program at Nancy Silverton's Osteria Mozza and opened L.A.'s beloved speakeasy The Varnish, Alperin knows a thing or two about picking the best bottles and tools to make any bar feel cocktail party-ready. Read about his experiences behind the bar by picking up his book, Unvarnished: A Gimlet-Eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar ($28).

1. Starlino Rosso Vermouth ($25)

"A bottle design that is reminiscent of a dream sequence in a Fellini film, the Rosso Vermouth is aged in used American oak bourbon barrels, which imparts a smooth and spicy flavor to the wine. A sure grab for your next Manhattan cocktail."

2. Rieger's Kansas City Whiskey ($23)

"J. Rieger & Co. revived the Kansas City whiskey category, which honors the lost practice of rectification. Its balanced, slightly sweet quality comes from adding 15-year-old oloroso sherry to the blend of straight ­bourbon, light-corn, and straight rye whiskies."

3. Tequila Tromba Añejo ($64)

"Tromba gets its name from the intense rainstorms of the Jalisco highlands. In honor of weathering any holiday-related family squalls with ease and poise, grab a bottle of their añejo. Let the taste of cacao, almond, and cooked pineapple dance its way onto your palate."

4. Crafthouse by Fortessa Boston Shaker

"The Crafthouse by Fortessa Boston Shaker is from the Charles Joly line of professional barware. Charles knows the importance of a tin-on-tin shaker set that seals perfectly and is strong enough to handle larger rocks of ice." ($50, williams-sonoma.com)

5. Riedel Glassware

"In the last decade, bartenders have been enchanted by using large-format ice cubes, and the Riedel Drink Specific Glassware line was created with big ice in mind. The Neat, Rocks, and Highball glasses, in particular, are must-buys." (From $33, amazon.com or macys.com)

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