Last minute gifts, that support local businesses, and local bartenders

You can still have a SIP with your favorite local bartender, just not necessarily at your favorite local bar

Restaurant and bar folks are a resilient lot. Even during the course of typical human events. But throw in a lockdown and SIP and that resilience can shine through. Employment in the restaurant business is often a two job affair. Sometimes that employment is at two different restaurants and sometimes it involves employment outside of the industry entirely. And sometimes that extra-curricular employment is not all that too far removed. 

Since there are still two shopping days until Christmas (and you can easily blame late Hanukkah gifts on Covid), we have taken the liberty of assembling a list of several local businesses where you can fill your holiday gift giving bag. All of these particular options also feature the added bonus of having former/furloughed/current bartenders handling their business.

If that isn’t a win/win/win, we don’t know what is.

Cork Pops, 7 Commercial Blvd., Novato    

 When it comes to bar tools nobody beats Cork Pops, not only in Marin, but anywhere for that matter. They carry it all, from their unparalleled wine opener, the eponymous Cork Pops, to the thermal gel filled copper look Moscow Mule cup, which will keep your mule chilled for as long as you could possibly need. Former bartender at the former Boca Tavern, Brian Lee, is featured in most of the demo videos for Cork Pops’ products available online at their website, and he assures us that Cork Pops self-turning muddler is “the best bar tool” that he’s ever used.

The large format “Nicholas” 32 ounce stainless steel cocktail shaker (with an ice shaving interior strainer) might also just come in handy for these particular holidays.

Corkpops catalog is available at their website and shipping is the only option. However, many of their products are also available locally at fine beverage and food shops, as well as at BevMo and on Amazon.


Bitter Girl Bitters, 1505 Colwood Drive, Petaluma

Technically speaking, Bitter Girl Bitters, is located in Petaluma, but owner/operator/founder Erin Hines has strong Marin County connections. Her illustrious bartending career has included several Marin hotspots and she is still mixing up ToGo cocktails occasionally at Kentfield’s Guesthouse.

At her day job, however, Hines makes top notch hand crafted bitters: bitter rose, prickly poms, and a walnut that when not sold out is an absolute must. Her barrel aged coffee bitters (named Morning Wood, I kid you not) makes one fabulously uplifting old fashioned, morning, noon, or night.  

Online ordering only, but Bitter Girls is also available at Vintage Wine and Spirits, Hanson of Sonoma in Sausalito, and Bay Area Doorstep Market.


King Floyd’s Bar Provisions, 102 Hamilton Drive, Novato

King Floyd’s not only makes nine different kinds of aromatic cocktail bitters but also has rimming salts and sugars, hand sanitizer, cocktail syrups and bar snacks. But King Floyd’s also has the local goodwill inspired by having three former bartenders on staff. Luke O’Neal and Adam Jepson formerly of Peri’s in Fairfax, and Josh Burks, formerly of the former 19 Broadway, also in Fairfax, can all offer expert advice and service.

 King Floyd’s five pack samplers are a great way for the novitiate to wet their whistle without diving too deeply in. And the three bottle gift packs are sure to be appreciated by anyone who gets one. King Floyd’s also offers free hand sanitizer on purchases of $25 or more.

View the selections online and then place your order. Curbside pick-up is also available.


Tiburon Wine, 84 Main St., Tiburon

Tiburon Wine has a fabulous inventory featuring over 75 different champagne (New Year’s Eve is fast approaching), as well as many other Marin County still wine selections; including Skywalker Ranch, Sean Thackrey, and others. Proprietor Jerry Horn (aka “Dr. Champagne”) and barista Clark White might not be serving up tastings at their cozy tasting bar right now, but they can still fill your order ToGo. And for minimum orders of $100 (and only in Southern Marin) you just might be able convince them to do a “house call.”

Prices are more than reasonable – mostly in the $20 – $70 range – and the selection is wildly extensive. Check them out online and then call and make your appointment.


Vintage Wine and Spirits, 82 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley

Vintage Wine and Spirts has an extensive inventory of both wine and spirits, including perhaps the most comprehensive line up of local spirits around. Manager Norman Kaehn (part of VW&S since before the merger with Mill Valley Market) spent many a year himself behind the stick including a tenure as bar manager at the venerable Lark Creek Inn, and he knows a thing or two about his products. Rarities are a specialty, including many Japanese whiskies, small batch bourbons, mezcal, premium Scotch, and cognac.

However, Vintage Wine and Spirits is not all expensive, hard to find, high end products, there are plenty of bargains and local buys mixed in. View their lists online, swing by, or give them a call. There’s nothing like “spirits” to brighten your spirit, especially during the holidays.


Please help support your local businesses. They need our help now more than ever.

Happy Holidays!