There are only a few key milestone birthdays that people will remember all their lives … and 21 is perhaps the biggest (at least until the epic 4-0). What does a freshly minted 21-year-old really want?
For the most part, the answer is booze and all its accoutrements. Once a person reaches legal drinking age, he or she should make the most of it and start developing the palate; usually, what people drink from an early age sets their taste for life.
From beer to scotch, there are a lot of spirits out there to try. For someone who just turned 21, you can steer them in the right direction by promoting quality over quantity. There’s also plenty to learn about etiquette, like where to place your fingers on red versus white wine glasses.
Here are seven great ideas for the newbies in the bar.
1. Proper glasses
This entails knowing what a person likes to drink or what he or she would be up to trying. Basics include white and red wine glasses, tumblers, flutes for champagne, and martini glasses. Most people don’t make margaritas or hurricanes at home on a regular basis, so those can be left for a later time. Ideally, choose something made with crystal or a heavy glass that’s dishwasher safe.
2. A cocktail book
Someone might love a Sex on the Beach at the bar, but most people who are 21 are also short on cash. It’s a better idea to “pre-party” before heading out, and maybe impress friends by actually knowing how to make a cocktail. Choose a book with plenty of pictures that’s easy to follow. It doesn’t need to get into the history of cocktails, although knowing that martinis were invented in California or that the proper way to mix them is stirring (never shaking) might be good to know.
3. A keychain breathalyzer
This gag gift — often given by parents — can actually fuel a popular bar or party game. People love knowing just how buzzed they are, and this tool can also help to persuade drinkers that they should be slowing down. Know the legal limit, which is usually .08, and always depend on a taxi when partying at the bars. Breathalyzers are fun, but they can also be abused (it’s not for competition).
4. A shaker
If someone is really into learning how to mix cocktails, a great shaker is a must. There are all different kinds, including celebratory ones for 21st birthdays. But you can play it safe with a simple and classic brushed steel shaker that doesn’t show fingerprints easily. An understated engraving is a nice touch.
5. Engraved flask
A flask, whether strapped in a garter at a Greek party or discreetly hidden in a coat, is an easy way to enjoy a favorite beverage without overpaying. Usually meant to hold whiskey or scotch, a flask can carry any hard alcohol. To make it an even more special gift, have it pre-filled and add the remaining open fifth with a pretty bow.
6. Wine rings
For the 21-year-old who throws classy parties, wine rings are a must. After all, once people start drinking, they tend to put down their glass and have trouble identifying it again. Once they have their wine rings assigned, it’s easy to track down glasses.
7. Glass rack
Few youngsters have spacious kitchens; a glass rack is an easy solution. These can be installed anywhere, although most go under kitchen cupboards and suspend glasses upside-down so no dust gathers inside. These also free up space.
From flasks to shakers, there’s something for every 21-year-old. Of course, the ultimate gift includes tickets to Las Vegas along with a set of wine rings.