11 Gifts for the Aspiring Chef, Baker, or Mixologist

iStock
iStock

Whether the folks on your list are just learning how to boil water or have memorized Larousse Gastronomique, they'll love one of these handy tools and gadgets in their home kitchen.

1. FOOD FOR THOUGHT PLATES; $30

Cocktail plates from Z Gallerie
Z Gallerie

You can add a dash of humor to your giftee's next party by giving this cute set of four 7.5-inch porcelain plates. They all feature sayings with cheeky double entendres: "Holy shiitake," "I love it when you call me Big Papaya," "It takes two to mango," and "I'm kind of a big dill."

Find It: Zgallerie

2. CRUCIAL DETAIL PORTHOLE INFUSER; $120

Crucial Detail Porthole Infuser
MoMA Store

Designed by Crucial Detail founder Martin Kastner, the Porthole lets your foodie friends create their own infused oils, vinegars, teas, or even liquors. First, lay the six-inch-diameter, tempered glass vessel on its flat side and release the center screw. Add a selection of fruit, herbs, or chili peppers to the vessel. Reattach the lid to create an airtight seal, stand it up, and pour plain olive oil or other liquid through the spout. Then, steep until the mixture reaches peak flavor.

Find It: MoMA Design Store

3. PROJECT 62 COPPER CHEESE KNIFE SET; $17

Target Project 62 copper cheese knife set
Target

This four-piece cheese knife set is one of the items in Target's new line of mid-century modern-inspired housewares and décor, Project 62. The gray marble handles and bright copper blades will add flair to holiday cheese boards and hors d'oeuvre trays.

Find It: Target

4. KOLOSSOS GREEK ORGANIC WINE VINEGAR TRIO; $30

Kolossos Greek wine vinegar trio
Rocky Luten/Food52

Enliven salads and other bites with a spritz from one of these piquant organic vinegars, all made from heritage grapes grown in Greece. The red wine vinegar uses fruit from 2000-year-old vines in Nemea, the white wine variety is made with D.P.O. Roditis grapes from Patras, and the white wine balsamic style uses the Roditis grapes with a splash of raw, unfiltered wildflower honey.

Find It: Food 52

5. YEDI DESERT GOLD CUPS AND SAUCERS; $30

Yedi desert gold espresso cups and saucers
Amazon

This elegant and affordable four-piece espresso cup set will perk up your pal's morning coffee routine. Each 2.5-ounce porcelain cup features a cobalt blue, grass green, sunny yellow, or slate blue hue on the inside of the cup and reflective gold exterior, plus a saucer in matching tones.

Find It: Amazon

6. MEEHAN'S BARTENDER MANUAL; $20

Meehan's Bartender Manual
Ten Speed Press

Mixologist and author Jim Meehan, formerly of New York City's Gramercy Tavern, Pegu Club, and other hotspots, offers this chic compendium of everything there is to know about cocktails. From a history and evolution of drinks—did you know punch was popularized by the British navy because it didn't spoil on long sea voyages?—to serving techniques and cocktail recipes with beautiful photos, this hefty book will earn a special place on your giftee's bar cart.

Find It: Amazon

7. CRAFTHOUSE BY FORTESSA SMOKING BOX; $250

Crafthouse by Fortessa smoking box
Amazon

When your friends consider a standard cocktail too pedestrian, offer them this streamlined smoker. Just place an adult beverage in the box, close the door, and put a pinch of woodchips (two kinds are included with the set) in the attached smoking gun's reservoir. Then, light the smoking gun. A stream of smoke will waft directly into the box, infusing the drink with smoky complexity. The smoker can also be used for non-alcoholic drinks and foods.

Find It: Amazon

8. TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES JIGSAW PUZZLE CUTTING BOARD; $29

Jigsaw puzzle cutting board
Ten Thousand Villages

Fair trade artisans in Indonesia create these handy wooden cutting boards from sustainably sourced suar wood, which features a thick grain pattern and walnut-like hue. Chop up nibbles on the rectangular surface, then split up the four interlocking pieces to serve cheeses, fruit, crackers, and more.

Find It: Amazon

9. PHILIPS TURBOSTAR AIRFRYER; $227

Philips Airfryer
Philips

This sleek appliance can fry, bake, roast, and grill with almost no added oil, meaning your giftee won't feel quite so guilty when a craving for onion rings strikes. The TurboStar technology circulates hot air through the heated chamber so one never needs to flip or stir food while it's cooking, and the control dial with presets for popular foods ensures the right temperature and cooking times for healthier, tastier meals.

Find It: Amazon

10. WILLIAMS SONOMA HOLIDAY COOKIE GIFT CRATE; $80

Williams-Sonoma holiday cookie gift crate
Williams-Sonoma

Whether your friends are noobs in the kitchen or could win the Great British Baking Show, give them this adorable gift set as a fun and delicious way to celebrate the season. Each crate contains rich shortbread cookie mix, peppermint "snow" to sprinkle on top, four stainless steel cookie cutters in snowflake, candy cane, pine tree, and gingerbread man shapes, a cute snowman spatula, and striped tea towel.

Find It: Williams Sonoma

11. RETRO CANDY GIFT BOX: CHOOSE YOUR DECADE; $35

Candy Crate gift box of 1980s candy
Candy Crate

Better than any Halloween haul, Candy Crate's gift boxes include about 55 pieces of candy in full and fun sizes from the decade of your choice. For example, the 1980s box offers vintage faves like Nerds, Fruit Stripe gum, Charms Blow Pops, Atomic Fireballs, Jolly Ranchers and much more. Sugary selections from the 1940s to the 1990s are available.

Find It: Candy Crate

This Automated Tea Machine Brews Tea Bags and Loose Leaves With the Convenience of a Keurig

BRÜ
BRÜ

The convenience of Keurigs has changed the way people get their morning coffee, but for tea drinkers, the options have been far more limited. Though companies have released their teas in K-cup pods, you’re usually beholden to a more limited selection in terms of flavor variety and leaf type. The BRÜ is looking to change that by giving tea drinkers an automated brewing machine that allows for full customization, like temperature control, cup size, and the option to actually choose from your favorite loose-leaf teas and bags. With more than $180,000 in pledges raised already, the BRÜ has shattered its $30,000 goal on Kickstarter. But you can still get your own machine for just $95 by heading here before the campaign ends on November 1.

The BRÜ looks just like a Keurig in many ways—there’s the water tank, the familiar spout, and the drip tray. But with this machine, you're in control of far more. If you want a small cup of strong, bagged green tea, it's just a few button presses away. If your friend then wants a weaker glass of loose-leaf white tea that's not too hot, it can be ready in minutes, all without the hassle of dealing with a traditional kettle. With its stretch goals already reached, the company is even working on a setting for cold tea, which will brew a small but concentrated cup of hot tea, then dispense chilled water on top of it.

If you act fast (like fast, fast) you can still score the $95 BRÜ package, along with a glass mug. The next tier starts at $115 and includes a similar haul, but this time it’s for the BRÜ+ machine, which the company says dispenses the water in a way that actually cleans the tea chamber after each cup.

The BRÜ won’t be available for the holidays, so if you’re looking to give it as a gift this Christmas, you’ll receive a gift card voucher. Orders are expected to start going out for delivery in April 2020. For more information, head to the BRÜ Kickstarter page, where you can become a backer until November 1.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Amazing Gifts for the Beer Geek in Your Life

ValentynVolkov/iStock via Getty Images
ValentynVolkov/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you're picking out a gift for the beer lover in your life or just want to grab something for yourself, you're going to want to do better than the same old “Will Work for Beer” T-shirt that you've seen a million times before. That's exactly why we compiled a list of the best beer-related artwork, books, and accessories to complement your love of suds.

1. The Very Many Varieties of Beer; $40

PopChart Labs's Very, Very Many Varieties of Beer Poster.
Pop Chart Lab/Amazon

It can be hard to find tasteful home décor that reflects a love of beer. Luckily, Pop Chart Lab has you covered. The design outfit has created a number of beer-themed posters over the years (sadly, the scratch-off beer poster is no longer available), and The Very Many Varieties of Beer is their most awe-inspiring. The 24-inch-by-36-inch poster maps every type of beer style available, along with its suggested glassware, so you'll never again confuse a porter with a stout.

Buy It: Amazon

2. uKeg 64 oz Pressurized Growler for Craft Beer; $149


GrowlerWerks/Amazon

Growlers offer a great way to bring home a beer that doesn’t make its way into cans or bottles, but they’re not perfect. Unless you plan to drink all 64 ounces in a single sitting, you’re likely to end up with flat beer. Presenting, a solution: The uKeg 64 Pressurized Growler uses a CO2 cartridge to ensure that the last pour from this growler is as lively as the first, and its custom tap makes it easy to pour one out.

Buy It: Amazon

3. The Oxford Companion to Beer; $43


Oxford University Press/Amazon

Beer lovers can be a little obsessive about their passion, and if you’re shopping for someone who’s thirsty for knowledge, there’s no better place to start than this comprehensive reference. Edited by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, the Oxford Companion crams an incredible amount of information about beer culture, history, styles, brewing methodologies, and more into 900 pages. Even the most well-versed know-it-all will learn something from this text. And if you’re shopping for a beer-loving foodie, Oliver’s classic book The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food makes an excellent gift, too.

Buy It: Amazon

4. USA Beer Cap Map; $35

USA Beer Cap Map on Amazon.
Beer Cap Country/Amazon

Brewers keep making more intricate and beautiful bottle caps, and it’s a shame to just chuck that art into the trash each time you pop a bottle. If your giftee is trying to drink their way through all 50 states, this fun wooden map helps them keep track of progress while preserving standout caps.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Libbey Craft Brews Beer Glass Set; $30


Libbey/Amazon

Pouring a beer into a glass enhances the whole sensory experience each sip offers. By allowing the user to better see and smell what they're drinking, the glass is a valuable aid in fully enjoying each brew. And since different shapes of glasses suit different styles of beer, a beer geek’s glassware collection can never be too large. While there’s a dizzying variety of cool brewery-branded glassware on the market, this six-piece set from Libbey covers all the bases and enables your favorite beer geek to sip everything from dense Russian imperial stouts to refreshing German hefeweizens. Plus, at just $30, it's a steal.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit; $48

Beer Making Kit.
Brooklyn Brew Shop

With a little know-how and the right recipe, home brewers can make beers that rival the offerings of their commercial counterparts. If someone on your list wants to dip their toe into the home brewing waters, Brooklyn Brew Shop offers kits that come with almost everything they'll need to make a gallon of beer. With styles ranging from Everyday IPA to Chocolate Maple Porter to Jalapeño Saison, there’s something for everyone.

Buy It: Brooklyn Brew Shop

7. BEER SOAP VARIETY PACK; $35


Swag Brewery.

For a number of reasons, it can be hard to enjoy a delicious, hoppy IPA whenever you want one. Enter the next best thing: catching a pleasant whiff of brew. Swag Brewery crafts soaps made with real beer. Available in nine varieties—including oatmeal stout, IPA, and Belgian witbier—these soaps will finally give you even more reason to wash your hands.

Buy It: Amazon

8. The Comic Book Story of Beer; $15

The Comic Book Story of Beer.
Ten Speed Press/Amazon

There are centuries of history in every pint you drink. And in this punchy comic book by writers Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith, with art by Aaron McConnell, you can learn about the story behind beer, from its most primitive days as a curious drink fermented in clay pots to its impact on European culture and its rebirth as a booming industry after Prohibition.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Coasters with Built-In Bottle Openers; $18

Beer coasters with built-in bottle openers.
FuhlSpeed/Amazon

These stainless steel beer coasters don't just feature cool art that any hophead can enjoy, they also double as bottle openers to make your brew a bit more convenient. This is one of those ingenious products that makes you just sit back and wonder why you never thought of it.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Westmark German Hermetus Resealer Bottle Opener; $10


Westmark/Amazon

Downing an entire 22-ounce bomber of a boozy imperial stout or double IPA in a single sitting can be a delicious but questionable decision. With Westmark’s clever bottle opener, saving part of the bottle for the next day is a little easier. The Hermetus opener pops caps like normal, but once your giftee is ready to call it quits, it slides across the top of the bottle to form a tight, bubble-preserving seal.

Buy It: Amazon

11. Beer of the Month Club; $40 and up


BreakingTheWalls/iStock via Getty Images

Don’t overthink this. If you’re shopping for a beer lover, you can’t go wrong by simply getting them what you know they love—beer. Craft Beer Club takes the guesswork out of choosing the right brew by sending out 12 or 24 bottles of craft beer (in four different styles) with each shipment. You can choose from monthly, every-other-month, or quarterly packages.

Buy It: Craft Beer Club

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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