The best holiday gifts are the gifts that keep on giving. If you want the perfect gift for a friend or loved one who loves cocktails as much as you, give them this craft cocktail gift set. Its two gifts in one: they’ll love you for it and you stand a good chance of having them make you cocktails for the next year.

These indispensable happy hour implements were selected by a guy who knows his way around a bar:  Scranton Twohey, the owner of the east side cocktail mecca, Whisler’s. Twohey claims these five necessities for the home bar will only set you back about $75 for the whole shebang and all of them are available at cocktailkingdom.com.

1.       Hoffman Bar Spoon Bar Spoon (1)

Spirits driven drinks should be stirred, not shaken. This spoon has a classic look and the spiraled neck makes it easy to grip. The Hoffman is available in silver, copper & even gold plated. $19.95

2.       Silicone 2×2 inch Ice Cube Trays Ice Cube Tray

Big ice cubes have less surface area and melt slower than small cubes, so your drink doesn’t get watered down. Spherical cubes might be fun, but when two-inch ice cubes are all you need. $6.95

3.       Natural Wood Muddler Muddler

Muddlers are vital for crushing herbs like mint to make mojitos and mint juleps. When shopping for a muddler make sure it’s long enough to reach to the bottom of your tallest glass. $10.95

4.       Leopold jigger Jigger

Just like with baking, creating the perfect cocktail requires precise measurement. Besides the unique vintage design, this jigger has measurements marked on the inside for more accurate pouring. Measurements include 1oz, 1/2oz, 3/4 oz, 1 1Ž2 oz and 2 oz. $18.95

5.       Set of two Koriko Weighted Shaker Tins Set of Koriko Shakers

Shakers are a must have for any home bar. With a great stainless steel style, these tins also seal together well, so there are no leaks when making cocktails  $16.90

If you would rather buy your tools in person, Twohey also recommends local stores Serve Gourmet, Metier Cooks Supply and Breed & Co for finding bar essentials.

If you need a demonstration first, you can always see these bar tools in action at Whisler’s. Try the Fall/Winter menu featuring 12 new cocktails like:

Eastside Queen

Eastside Queen  

  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • .75 oz Cranberry-Rosemary Syrup
  • .75 oz Lemon

Shaken and served up in a chilled coupe. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

I Yam What I Yam

I Yam What I Yam 

  • 1.5 oz Butter-Infused Rum
  • .5 oz Milletti Amaro
  • 1 oz Sweet Potato Shrub
  • 2 dashes of walnut bitters & 1 dash bitters

Shaken and strained over ice in an old-fashioned glass.  Garnish with toasted marshmallow.

What are you drinking?

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Chip Tate on Roof of Distillery The nasty feud between Chip Tate, founder and head distiller of Waco-based Balcones Distillery, and its investors is now over. The distillery’s board of managers has bought Tate’s 27 percent ownership of the company and ended his role on the board this week.

As first reported by the Waco Tribune, tensions boiled over in August when board members got a temporary restraining order to enforce a 90-day suspension of Tate, issued August 8. The restraining order barred him from entering the distillery or doing business on its behalf. In an apparent struggle between a strong-willed visionary distiller and business-minded investors, the board alleged that Tate had made incendiary comments and impeded the progress of the business by not participating in board meetings.

The soap opera drama continued until early November when Judge Jim Meyer of Waco’s 170th State District Court ruled in favor of Tate, saying that he must be present at Balcones board meetings for them to take actions.

“Being in a lawsuit is always frustrating, however it was satisfying to be vindicated by the court. Despite having things settled in my favor in court, it was clear that one of had to go and one had to get paid. A piece of paper won’t fix a broken relationship,” Tate tells What Are You Drinking/CultureMap in a phone interview. “If I had stayed at Balcones I would have [had] to bring in another partner. Simply put, that wasn’t going to happen. Unfortunately that means walking away from Balcones.”

In June 2013, after an incredibly successful six-year run as an independent whisky distiller, Tate entered into an agreement with a group of investors led by Greg Allen . Balcones Distillery will continue operations with Keith Bellinger as president and Jared Himstedt as distillery manager. Himstedt has been with the distillery since August 2008. Despite his longevity, it may be a tough transition.

Chip Tate Welding Still

Tate not only developed the distillery’s first recipes and refined its products; he also oversaw every aspect of its operations with feverish passion. On any given day, he darted about the distillery constantly checking the quality straight from the still and tasting dozens of barrel samples in his lab to ensure his whisky was just right. He also obsessed about every aspect of how it was made, right down to hand-welding his own copper stills and even drying his own Live Oak staves to have custom barrels made with Texas wood.

That kind of passion is irreplaceable.

While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Tate says it did include a limited non-compete clause, which bars him from working at another distillery until March 2016.

“Parting with Balcones is bittersweet. I don’t think Balcones reached its full potential, but I’m definitely in place where I can move forward. Starting now I’ll be building a new distillery with a great new crew and the future is bright,” he says.

“I’m in negotiations on a building and getting going. While I have a limited non-compete with certain things I can’t do until March 2016, there are other things that I want to do. That and it’s going to take some time. I still have to build a distillery. We are going to build it ourselves, including the stills. I’m getting back to good stuff. I’m getting back to making things and making things.”

Chip Tate Balcones Distiller This story was originally published on CultureMap.

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The Definitive Guide to Holiday Wine

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17 Things that Start with B Seen at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

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My 5 Favorite Austin Beers at the Texas Craft Brewers Festival

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Oceans of beer flowed freely at the 2014 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. More than 150 types of beer were poured by 57 brewers at Fiesta Gardens. There is absolutely no way to taste all of those beers, so I took a simpleton’s approach to the beer bash this year: I tasted only what came to […]

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