From glassware to gift cards and booze to bar tools, here’s a list of the best alcohol-themed 21st birthday gift ideas. With this list, you can pick the perfect present for anyone turning the legal drinking age.
When a special birthday opens the door to a new stage of life, they are all the more fun to celebrate.
Perhaps none more so than the 21st birthday, which is the legal drinking age in the United States, meaning that alcohol is both legal to purchase and consume. Buying a legal drink can be a sign of independence, maturity, and freedom.
The jump from buying gifts for teens to gifts for young adults with more freedom is a big one that creates more opportunities for creative presents.
According to VinePair, the legal drinking age in 64 percent of countries is 18 years of age, with the youngest drinking age being 15 in Mali and the Central African Republic. There are seven countries that do not have a mandated drinking age, and 11 more ban drinking entirely.
No matter the legal drinking age in your country, there are lots of ways to make this milestone birthday feel even more so.
A thoughtful gift for this big birthday can be a sign of love, support, and encouragement to anyone making the transition into adulthood.
For anyone approaching this milestone birthday, you’re going to need the perfect gift. You’re in luck because here are 10 ideas for 21st birthday gifts.
Young people may not have much in the way of glassware just for drinks yet, so a set of alcohol-specific drinkware might be a great addition to their first apartment.
Every time they pull them out, they’ll remember this great gift and who gave it to them.
“I received a set of really nice wine glasses, shot glasses, and champagne glasses along with some beverages to go in them,” says Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella.
Here are some ideas:
- pint glasses or beer steins
- wine glass set
- champagne flutes
- shot glasses
- martini glasses
Instead of actual drinking glasses, you could opt for a pitcher for sangria or a decanter for wine.
You could even go for a set of reusable, insulated, stainless steel cups that keep drinks cold or hot.
Bottles of Alcohol
If the birthday guy or girl hasn’t had a lot of exposure to alcohol yet, a great gift idea is to give them a bottle of alcohol to help them expand their horizons.
“My brother gave me 21 different mini bottles of alcohol with a list of what they all were for my 21st birthday,” says Gen La Rocca of TwoClovesKitchen.com. “Some were funny, others were thoughtful, and I appreciated how much time and effort he put into making my birthday special.”
Some ideas for alcohol gifts are:
- a bottle of wine
- 6-pack of beer
- mini alcohol bottles
- a bottle of a basic spirit, such as vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, or tequila
- a bottle of liqueur, such as coffee liqueur or peach schnapps
If you have a favorite recipe or two to go with your gift, include it in your birthday card for an extra thoughtful touch.
Depending on where they live, Drizly offers alcohol delivery, which is a great way to surprise them with a bottle on their special day.
Another great birthday gift is a cocktail kit subscription. These services curate a custom gift box each month and mail them right to their door, which will make them think of you each time one arrives.
It’s the perfect way for your birthday girl or guy to discover their new favorite drink, as each box is filled with cocktail recipes and the ingredients to make them, including the cocktail mixers and garnishes.
There are also companies that offer wine memberships, whiskey subscriptions and even craft beer boxes.
One thing to note: Depending on the company as well as the laws where the recipient lives, alcohol may or may not be shipped to them.
Alcohol Infusion Kits
Homemade alcohol is a fun way to discover new flavors, and the recipient will think about your gift for a long time after you give it.
Many of these kits include an empty jar filled with dried ingredients, like dried citrus and whole spices. To enjoy it, they’ll pour the alcohol right in and let it sit for a long time, anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.
Limoncello is a great example: The zest of fresh lemons infuses with vodka for about a month, and is then mixed with sugar syrup to yield a sweet citrus liqueur that’s delicious to sip or mix into drinks.
Infused alcohol is also something you can make together for a memorable experience.
Tools for making drinks at home are also good present ideas. You can purchase a set or single pieces.
Any of these would be a practical gift:
- cocktail shaker
- bottle opener
- measuring set
Koozies, which are sleeves that keep cans cold, are also nice to have for those who like to tailgate for football, go hiking or camping, or visit the beach.
For those who like to entertain at home, a set of decorative yet functional coasters would be a practical gift.
Consider their favorite colors and style before buying. Any personal touch — like colors, a monogram, or engraving — goes a long way.
“I like to give an engraved shot glass or beer mug as a gift,” says Heidi Bruaw of Real Life of Lulu.
Travel Cocktail Kits
If the young man or woman is a jet-setter, a great birthday gift is a travel cocktail kit.
These miniature cocktail kits come in tins filled with just enough ingredients for two to four drinks.
They are great gifts for anyone who likes to travel, hike, picnic, or camp and might want to pack a cocktail or two to enjoy on their trip.
If you’re looking for a big gift that makes a statement, a piece of furniture will fit the bill.
A bar cart is a particularly great idea. It’s a decorative and functional piece of furniture used for storing alcohol, glassware, and tools.
They often have wheels so they can be moved around their home with ease, so they’re perfect for entertaining.
Some other ideas for furniture include:
- cabinet or sideboard
- patio furniture
- wine rack
- mini fridge or wine fridge
Another memorable gift is an experience. It can be one that you spend together or one they can enjoy on their own or with friends.
A trip together, whether it’s a road trip, a trip to a big city, or an international vacation will be a time to remember. Plan stops around the local cuisine and drinks. A trip to Napa or to the Guinness Brewery in Baltimore or Ireland would be a great way to broaden their knowledge of drinks.
You could also visit a brewery, take a distillery tour, or take a cooking or cocktail class together.
Any young adult will love the gift of a little green.
If you aren’t close by or just want them to have a good time with friends, a gift card to a local restaurant or bar will go a long way.
A gift of cash — either bills or Venmo — is a sweet way to send them out on the town for the first time.
Gift cards to ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are a unique gift and a great way to ensure they get around safely and responsibly.
Cocktails to Share
Throwing a birthday party or dinner for the special occasion? Make the birthday bash all the more special with a signature cocktail to remember.
Try one of these movie-themed drinks if the celebrant has a favorite movie with a signature drink.
If there’s a favorite flavor they enjoy, such as chocolate or apple, you can make the perfect drink with that in mind.
Making their birthday feel special is the only thing that counts.
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed, and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.