Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Entertaining
The Cook's Cook staff offers gift suggestions for entertaining during this festive time of year.
The Cook’s Cook is publishing a series of Holiday Gift Guides. In this edition we share some favorite items for entertaining. These may be the perfect gift for the friend who entertains often or the aunt who happily hosts the entire family for every major holiday. Or they may simply be the perfect gift to give yourself!
If you’ve ever wanted to be one of those people who can effortlessly make incredible cocktails for friends and family you’re going to love Shaker & Spoon’s monthly subscription service. Each month a box arrives containing both fresh and shelf-stable ingredients, which range from citrus and herbs to tinctures, syrups, and salt rims. Simply follow the recipes included, which are formulated by well-regarded bartenders working at multiple famous establishments, supply your own alcohol, and prepare to look like a genius. We loved their mezcal box when we reviewed it in the past and December’s applejack box is no exception.
Based in Boston, R. Murphy has been making knives since the 1800s, including some of the best oysters knives we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. The Murphy Board & Knife Set is another great product from this American company and features either their Jackson Cannon bar knife or their charcuterie knife, as well as a solid maple board with a beautiful inlaid decorative hardwood strip. What’s particularly nice about this set, other than the high quality knives and gorgeous oil-finished cutting board, is a storage slot for the knife that holds the blade in place with an internal magnet. It’s also perfectly suited for entertaining, as the cutting board is presentation-worthy and the broad blade of the charcuterie knife is excellent for both slicing meats and spreading pâtés, while the Jackson Cannon knife is ideal for slicing garnishes for cocktails.
The Cook’s Cook offered the Lazy Spoon as an Editors’ Pick two years back. It was a great product and something I certainly thought would be a good gift for any – or all – of the cooks on my gift list. So I visited their website to see what other products they offered and fell in love with the Blackened Forked Salad Set.
These utensils, like all of Jonathan’s Spoons, are made of cherry wood. They are sturdy, unique and easy to care for.
Ordering online at their website is easy – and shipping is fast. I received my order in two days. Jonathan’s Spoons are sold at a large number of retailers around the globe, though this particular set may not be available at all locations. Check the website to find a Jonathan’s Spoons products retailer near you.
The GrowlerWerks uKeg is such a beautiful device that a bartender at a brewery once called it “the Belle of the ball,” and let me skip the line in order to get it filled. Using a system which pressurizes the interior of the growler using food-grade CO2 cartridges, the uKeg keeps beer fresh for weeks. This is particularly convenient for parties or gatherings where you might want to serve draft-fresh beer without going through the hassle of going to the brewery that same day (or even that same week). For those with lots of friends, or even just big appetites, the uKeg comes in two sizes, 64- and 128-ounces, and in multiple attractive finishes. Between the fresh beer, preferential treatment at bars, and the envious looks of other drinkers, it’s definitely worth the purchase.
Looking for a gift for the host of a holiday party? A bottle of a Monin fruit syrup or purée might be just the thing. Standard in commercial bars and restaurants, Monin products are a boon to the home bar as well, with fresh true flavors. The purées have the texture of muddled fruit, the syrups are concentrated and lively. Monin offers a wide range of fruit and other flavors. Nut and sugar-free syrups are also available. Pumps, purchased separately, make dispensing consistent and easy. Monin flavors can be used for cocktails, punches, and mocktails, as well as in desserts and sauces. The shelf life of an opened bottle with a pump at room temperature is 30-60 days; opened but stored with its cap, the shelf life is 90-180 days.
Tiki drinks are going through a bit of a renaissance these days and thanks to books like Smuggler’s Cove that’s not a bad thing. Whereas many old recipes and iterations of tiki drinks are downright awful due to poor ingredients and improper preparation, authors Martin and Rebecca Cate offer recipes which are big on flavor and light on syrups, creams, and other high calorie additives. The book is also a treasure trove of information about tiki and exotica, and explains and decodes the history of both the drinks and the people and bars who created them.
A set like the Chef’s Basic, which includes a variety of cheese knives, makes a welcome gift, especially with a selection of cheeses. And more especially with a book like The Cheese Board: Collective Works: Bread, Pastry, Cheese, Pizza, from the famous cheese and bread shop in Berkeley, California. (P.S. I once ate 18 of their corn and sour cherry scones on the drive back to LA.)
Allsop Home and Garden solar lanterns are designed to be used indoors or outdoors, and their crinkley Tyvek fabric and delicate punched patterns will add a festive touch to any space year-round. Lightweight, they are easy to hang for holiday parties in unexpected places like bathrooms, hallways, or near a coat rack. In warm seasons or climates, their subtle fairylike glow will be a welcoming note in a protected entryway or outdoor living space. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, these solar lanterns require exposure to light in order to store up a charge, and each has an on/off auto sensor. A great house gift, thank-you, or present for anyone who entertains or enjoys a deck, balcony, or porch.
These roomy grill baskets make it possible, even easy, to grill a mess of vegetables or several ears of corn alongside some ribs or chicken for a patio party. Cut or sliced to suit, vegetable pieces can cook and char a bit, dripping off extra juices. There’s no worry that they’ll fall into the fire. Good options are Weber’s 6434 and Weber’s 6678.