The holidays are upon us, and if you’re anything like us, you… do not have all your gift shopping done. Or any of your gift shopping done. (What? There are like… whole days left, it’s fine.) So to make all our last-minute gift-giving lives a little easier, we called upon our good friend Faith, better known as the woman (the myth, the legend) behind @barfaith on Instagram, to give us her picks for goodies to give everyone (21+) on your list. Iffffff you don’t end up keeping them all for yourself… not that we’d know anything about that.

Faith, we are beyond excited to pick your brain. But first things first: when you’re not swooping in to rescue gift shopping procrastinators everywhere, who are you and how did you end up on this home bar journey?

I’m just a cocktail hobbyist living and exploring the California dream! 😉 I grew up living in the suburbs all my life (mostly in Texas) and always heard amazing things about sunny California. I’m super fortunate to finally be fulfilling my “city life” curiosity in beautiful San Francisco surrounded by the inspiration of so many amazing bars within walking distance. I started mixing drinks during my last year of college after discovering the magic of a cocktail shaker, and have been slowly building up my home bar collection since. Along the way, it’s been a confusing journey trying to figure out what to buy to get the most bang for my buck. I think I’ve finally somewhat figured it out (after owning and getting thru many never-ending bottles that have haunted my liquor cabinets) so I’m here in my little Instagram corner of the world to share my journey and learnings, while continuing to learn so much from others!

We’re just the slightest bit obsessed with your Instagram. Where do you draw your inspiration from, and how do you choose which cocktails to create?

One of the reasons I started my Instagram was to hold myself accountable to really learn many of the classic recipes. As a casual home enthusiast, I would usually just search the web for a recipe whenever I felt like making a cocktail, but I would rarely ever remake recipes as new ones would always catch my eye. As such, I had a hard time actually recalling recipes by name, and definitely never remembered all the ingredients. I started BarFaith as a mix between my little bottle education series (my #BarFaithBottleTalk posts) and a cocktail “diary.” I’m not huge on photography, so I really focus my posts on the background and learnings behind each photo, the story behind the scenes if you will. Most of my inspiration comes from the classics, as well as modern creations (recipes you’d find at today’s top craft cocktail bars). On the occasion when I create my own recipes, it’s oftentimes just a variant of a classic, where I will substitute certain ingredients or sometimes add something extra. Generally nothing too fancy, and I take immense inspiration from all the amazing mixologists on social media and at my favorite bars.

Let’s get down to it. What should we be picking up for our friends and family this holiday season?

A quality cocktail book.

My gateway book was The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, which was my introduction into the CRAFT of cocktails. It’s not a recipe book, but rather, all about technique and the reasons behind why certain things are done in certain ways. It will establish the foundation on which you’ll be able to make sense out of any recipes you encounter and make them truly delicious. Another great introductory book is Death & Co. This is not only an incredibly written book full of technique, recipes, and more, but is a beauuuutiful coffee table book you’ll want to leave out!

Cocktail subscription boxes.

Photo c/o Bitters+Bottles

Not everyone has the desire or need to build up a fully stocked home bar. These are a fun and easy idea to try out different craft cocktails without a huge up-front investment. Look into subscription boxes like Bitters+Bottles, SaloonBox, and Shaker&Spoon. Each is a bit different, so find the one that fits your giftee’s needs! You may be tempted to gift yourself too… 😉

A delicious, quality spirit they haven’t tried before.

After all, the best gifts are the ones you wouldn’t necessarily think to buy for yourself. Here are some ideas, but shoot me a message on Instagram @barfaith or Facebook and I’ll be happy to help with personalized recs!

For the drinker that prefers simple light refreshing drinks like a gin & tonic (or maybe even vodka-sodas), a quality bottle of gin is a great gift. Even people who may be a bit hesitant about the idea of gin will often be surprised once they experience the amazing variety that accompanies this spirit category. I would suggest branching out from the “London Dry” style of gin (which tends to be juniper heavy – in my experience some people will fondly describe that as “like old people”) and try some New Western style gins, which often focuses more on the accompanying botanicals surrounding the juniper.

Recommended brands: Monkey47 (this makes the best G&T ever), Hendrick’s, St. George (all 3 of their gins are so fantastically unique and will change the way you think about gin. You can often find a 3-pack of their gins in mini bottles), or your local craft distillery’s gins (support local business!).

Recommended cocktail: Gin & Tonic. 2oz gin, 4oz tonic water (I like Fever-Tree or Q), squeeze of lime. Pour all ingredients over ice and garnish to your heart’s content.

For someone who enjoys sipping whiskies or savoring the complex flavors of a wood-aged spirit, try a bottle of quality unadulterated rum. Many people associate rum with overly sweet or spice-laden monsters, but a sip of a quality additive-free rum will help them see the light. Most rums are aged in used bourbon barrels, which will likely add an air of familiarity.

Recommended brands: Real McCoy, Doorly’s, Foursquare, Mount Gay, Appleton

Recommended cocktail: Rum Old Fashioned. Replace your classic whiskey with rum. 2oz rum, .25-.5oz sugar syrup (to taste), dash of Angostura bitters. Stir with ice, and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Add a twist of citrus over top.

For someone who’s more into those fizzy and easy-to-drink “brunch-y” drinks like mimosas, rosé, or bubbly, try a bottle of a liqueur that’s perfect to add into those simple drinks to switch it up.

Recommended brands: Aperol (bittersweet, citrusy, and a perfect fun bright orange color), St. Germain (floral sweet and absolutely delicious liqueur, flavors reminiscent of lychee), Chambord (black raspberry liqueur)

Recommended cocktail: Just add an ounce into your simple glass of champagne or rosé and watch it work its transformative magic!

Anything else our readers should know about you? Your home bar? Upcoming @barfaith thangs? Life and the universe?

I’m personally super excited for the holidays right now (I loooove Christmas) so I’m definitely enjoying my daily blasting of Christmas music. 😉 I wish all of you an amazing holiday season, and hope your new year is filled with lots of joy and tasty cocktails! In the frenzy of all the gifting prep, make sure you gift yourself a bottle for under the tree as well, you deserve it! Find me on Instagram @barfaith, and don’t ever hesitate to reach out!

All photos c/o @barfaith unless otherwise specified.