8 Last Minute DIY Gift Ideas for Cocktail Lovers

Bottled cocktails on a bar.
Who wouldn't want to receive a bottled cocktail for Christmas? There are no limits to the things you can make for the cocktail lovers on your list. Photo by Wendy Rose Gould.

It happens to the best of us: you’re geared up to do all of your holiday shopping weeks (maybe months!) in advance; you make elaborate lists and mean to place online orders well ahead of time; you stake out your favorite neighborhood stores for gift worthy items that you intend to buy. And then before you know it, the holidays have arrived and you’ve been caught empty-handed.

Fear not — this doesn’t mean you have to sprint to your nearest superstore and fight through the masses to buy last minute gifts. Instead, opt for one of these homemade treats, sure to impress and delight any cocktail aficionado on your list. Plus, if there's one word that bartenders love, it's "housemade."

1. Irish Cream

Like so many things in the cocktails world, Irish Cream gets a bad wrap thanks to the well-known mass produced version. But in its essence, the combination of whiskey, vanilla and cocoa flavors whipped into a cream should be as delicate as it is decadent. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe takes a mere five minutes to make once your ingredients are assembled, and even Santa Claus himself has that kind of time.

2. Tepache

Tepache fermenting in a Mason jar. Tepache packs a punch that can be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail. Photo by Jodi Cash.

Tepache has had a big year in the cocktail scene. Though it began as a fairly obscure ingredient outside of Latin America and Texas, we watched the fermented pineapple drink pop up on menus across the globe as a standalone option and an element in cocktails. The best news? It’s fairly easy to make! We learned from the team at Superica in Atlanta, Georgia.

3. "Fall Falernum"

Aerial photo of pumpkins Jules Aron's autumn-inspired falernum recipe has the warmth of baking spices and the sweetness of maple syrup. Photo by Gyorgy Papp, courtesy of Jules Aron.

Say what you will about everything pumpkin spice, Jules Aron’s Fall Falernum is anything but basic. Give the gift of an elevated tiki staple, rich with cold weather flavors and everyone’s favorite gourd. (For a more year-round version, try this classic falernum recipe courtesy of Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago.)

4. Hibiscus Mezcal

Close-up of a jar with hibiscus flowers steeping in mezcal for infusion Four hours is all it takes to give mezcal the vibrant flavor and color of the hibiscus without adding tannic notes. Photo by Jim Sullivan.

Some infusions can take days, weeks or even months, but this bright Hibiscus Mezcal only requires a few hours to steep. And in that short time, you’ll imbue our favorite smoky spirit with an indomitable pink hue and floral flavor that brings back memories of springtime in winter’s darkest hour.

5. Coquito

This Puerto Rican classic can serve as a dairy free alternative to eggnog, featuring coconut cream, vanilla bean, ground nutmeg, cinnamon and Añejo or spiced rum. It’s sumptuous and dangerously sippable, most often enjoyed chilled. Make a big batch, pour it into Mason jars and hand it only to friends who you’d like to have for life.

6. Gum Arabic

Gum syrup being strained. Gum arabic syrup is resurfacing in cocktail bars nationwide. Photo courtesy of Betony NYC.

Gum Arabic is yet another pre-prohibition cocktail ingredient that made a comeback this year. Treat the hardcore cocktail historians in your life to a bottle of this OG syrup, which goes nicely in egg white sours and a range of both highballs and stirred drinks.

7. Orgeat

Pouring orgeat through a funnel into a bottle Bootlegger's orgeat will thrill any tiki devotee. Photo by Jim Sullivan.

Orgeat is a must-have syrup for tiki fans. Give those on your list the gift of a tropical getaway, encapsulated in a bottle with Bootlegger’s recipe for orgeat.

8. Bottled Cocktails

Bottled cocktails on a bar. The bottled cocktail is exactly what it sounds like — the novelty beverage entails pouring, bottling and capping a cocktail of your choice. Photo by Wendy Rose Gould.

But why give the gift of cocktail ingredients when you could give the real deal in a charming little bottle? Bottled cocktails gained popularity for obvious reasons, and this year they could help you do the same. Handing out bottled margaritas and bottled mojitos seems like a necessary holiday pick-me-up.

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