Picture a den warmed by a fireplace, a leather chair and an air of comfort. Seated in the chair is a man determined to unwind from a productive day of hard work. When he reaches into his pocket, he extracts a flask, takes a drink, and settles in. There is something evocative about a flask; it is sophisticated and rugged, undeniably masculine, and singular in its universal belonging. Any man from any walk of life can carry a flask. A flask is truly a gentleman’s gift.

The typical flask is iconic in shape and ingenious in utility. Designed to fit into pockets, most flasks are curved, thin square- or disc-shaped stainless steel. The curve is meant to hug the hip or thigh, making it more comfortable, sleek, and discreet to carry on your person. Some flasks are emblazoned with medallions, engraved, or even wrapped in leather for style and protection.

“Hip flasks” often carry between 6- and 8-ounces of liquid, though they can be found in both larger and smaller. They are meant not only for indulgence, but for discreet refreshment and an easy method of carrying a pick-me-up. Larger flasks, which sometimes come with small cups, are meant for sharing; making impromptu toasts; or partaking in a gentleman’s drink together by the campfire.

The History of Flasks

The modern flask’s ergonomic design and cool, glinting metal has come a long way from its humble beginnings. There is evidence as far back as the ancient Romans, Celts and Greeks of men carrying spirits in pig bellies and watertight leather pouches called “bladders.” Medieval peasants often carried liquor in hollowed-out fruit into the fields with them on workdays.

Over time, leather and fruit gave way to glass and, at last, metal. It was not until the 18th century that flasks became a signature of elegance and class. Through the years, the flask became synonymous with the soldier- brave, steadfast, and more worthy of simple luxuries than any other man. Flasks were an easy way to carry alcohol between campsites and even into battle for the necessary draughts of liquid courage. Even women embraced the flask; the 20’s flappers liked to hide their flasks in their garter belts, where the curve of the flask was comfortable against their legs and stayed hidden under fringe and ruffles.

By the time the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, the flask had firmly settled itself as a cross-class artifact. Flasks are still a bit of private fun to conceal, but in the hands of a practical man, they are a badge of masculinity, carrying the legacy of the working class, nobility, and the soldier all in one.

The Perfect Gift

Many of today’s flasks are constructed from stainless steel. Not only is it sturdy, stainless steel does not react with alcohol, and does not rust or corrode. It is also easily engraved and has a sleek, clean look.

The classic appeal of a flask makes it an ideal gift for any man. Metal flasks have been popular gifts for men since their rise to status in the 18th century. A flask can become deeply personal, familiar and reliable like a well-worn wallet or a small treasure that fondly brings to mind the gift-giver. Easily personalized with engraving, a flask can serve as a reminder that can be held and carried.

Engraving can be done to commemorate special occasions, the bonds of friendship, anniversaries and other important dates. They are little reminders of the things that truly matter in life. While dates and initials are a popular choice, short quotes and even symbols can make the gift even more personal. Either on its own or paired with a bottle of fine spirits, a flask makes an elegant gift for any man.

Choosing a Flask

In addition to the type of flask to meet an owners personality its important that lids have a tight seal. This will help prevent the alcohol from evaporating. Flask lids can either completely detach or have what is called a “captive top.” Captive tops attach the lid to the flask itself via a swing arm, making sure the cap cannot be lost. Many flasks also come with funnels for ease of filling.

With the variety of sizes and colors available, there is a perfect flask for every man or woman. Coverless flasks look modern and utilitarian. Leather sleeves or insets, on the other hand, look adventurous, and bold. The leather can be colored for a flare of personality, solid black or natural tan for classic appeal, or textured to mimic crocodile or snake skin for a suggestion of the exotic.

Care and Cleaning

Only hard liquor such as vodka, brandy and whiskey should be put in flasks. Stainless steel flasks can be buffed to high shine with nothing but a soft cloth and a dab of vodka. Leather sleeves should be treated with leather cleaners. Never use soap on the inside as it can leave unpleasant residue. Instead, simply rinse it out with hot water and air dry with the cap off. Some owners even recommend using a squirt of lemon juice every now and again if you vary what kind of liquor you carry.

Flasks function as a dignified method of taking a drink, allowing the owner to avoid premium prices of alcohol while out on the town, and have a bit of pleasure to enjoy while at home. Simple and affordable, a flask is a luxury that brings a note of refinement to any lifestyle.