Friday, December 4, 2009
This time of year I find myself making drinks fairly often (I make 'em fairly often the rest of the year too, but keep your judgments to yourselves please). Since I've accumulated a good bit of gear to go with my giggle water, I'm frequently rummaging through my heap of tools and assorted cocktail-making paraphernalia looking for those items that I end up needing more than the others. What causes certain bar tools to become absolute necessities while others drift slowly to the back of the shelf like phantoms, eventually forgotten?
Who knows? Everybody's got their favorite tools, and while there are some constants, the stuff we use to make drinks can be mighty varied. Booze geeks are fiercely opinionated about the stuff they drink, so it only makes sense that their preferences toward the gadgets they employ would be just as intense.
Much like Jeffrey's knife, Tiare's jigger, or Matt's "Murdler", I've discovered I have a piece of beloved barware that I consider indispensible and use more than any other:
Reminiscent of Eddie Van Halen's legendary "Frankenstrat", its ugly, made up of disparate components, and gets the job done like nobody's business. It's essentially a Boston shaker with none of the parts matching, and I reach for it almost 100% percent of the time.
What makes this motley assemblage so dear to my heart? Lemme break it down:
1) Tin: First off, I'm not even sure it's a cocktail mixing tin. It may have been intended for milkshakes for all I know. The only indication of its origin is "Capco 18.8 stainless steel Korea" etched on the bottom. Despite being covered in nicks, scratches, and assorted abrasions, it's got nary a dent and is sturdy as heck. It's thicker than most other tins I've seen and has some pretty good heft. Not bad for a flea market find.
2) Glass: A thick-walled, hefty mixing glass with garish red, green and yellow graphics of fruit printed on it along with recipes for Whiskey Sour, Martini, Daiquiri, Manhattan and Tom Collins. It was apparently originally part of a kit that included a spoon and strainer, but mine is all by its lonesome. The printing is worn off in many places but I don't care because this baby is all about function over form. Another flea market find.
3) Strainer: A Hawthorne strainer that was included in a bartender's kit given away as swag by Plymouth gin at Tales of the Cocktail in 2008. I have several Hawthorne strainers and I find most of them either too heavy or too flimsy. This one is very balanced and feels just right to me. The Plymouth logo printed on the handle has long since rubbed off, but that just goes to show how often I use it.
When all three are used together, it's joy. The tin & glass fit together superbly, yet never get stuck, and the strainer sits in the tin comfortably, with a little bit of play (which I happen to like). Like I said, it's certainly nothing you're going to see in a design museum or upscale watering hole, but I'll take my Frankenshaker's ramshackle elegance and utilitarian charm over a shiny bit of bartop objet d'art any day.
So what's your favorite bar tool? (And don't pretend you don't have one...Dr. Bamboo knows when you're lying!)