Category Archives: Bar supplies

Kickstart this cool bar spoon!

Just trying to get the word out, there’s a Kickstarter campaign in its final days now, for a couple of cool new bar spoon designs.

Check out the Kickstarter page here, and you’ll see the full prototyping process as well as the final designs for both spoons. I think these spoons look great, so check it out.

One is a classic barspoon, but with a straight, elegant shaft. The shaft and bowl will be made from one single molded piece of metal, so that the head isn’t welded on, which sets it apart from other spoons with a similar design.

The other spoon spins freely while you stir, removing a lot of the effort from stirring. If you’ve ever worked a full shift behind the bar, you’ll know that even stirring drinks can work up some repetitive stress issues in your arm and wrist.

Finally, the spoons are lovely and will make a great addition to your home or professional bar.

With 8 days left, they’re just over halfway to their goal, so help out if you can!

True Essentials for Your Home Bar: Bottles, Bitters, and Tools

I know that at the moment it seems I only keep this blog alive to post links to my stuff, but I hope that will change shortly, when I finally finish my manuscript. Anyway…

True Essentials for Your Home Bar: Bottles, Bitters, and Tools

I find that it’s easy to overthink the simple things. For example, I work from home while caring for two small children. Jeans and a black t-shirt are now my daily uniform at home. Why buy button-downs and polos and sweaters just to wear at home, when they’ll just get jam and drool and Angostura on them anyway?

It’s also all too easy to overthink the home bar, and to assume you need to spend a couple hundred at the Liquorteria just to get started. Here are some tips on the essentials you really need.

[Read more!]

A Sadly Missed Opportunity at Greatness

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I‘m compiling my annual gift guide for Serious Eats, looking at cool products for your home bar. This measuring beaker from Williams Sonoma caught my eye.

I love the idea of a product like this. It’s nothing I’d use daily, because of its breakability, but I’d definitely bring it out if we were having a couple of close friends over for drinks and dinner. It’s a great piece for entertaining.

Except, look at it closely.

Look very closely. See what it lacks, bar geeks.

Said the drunken sot to the drunken sot, “Do you see what I see? There on the beaker, drunken sot. Do you see what I see?”

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Argh! You’re right! It only measures in full ounces. Need half an ounce of vermouth or other ingredient? Go to hell! You can’t do that with this one! Grump.  It’s really cool looking otherwise. I guess if I just wanted a show piece, this would be fine. As a practical tool, though, nope.

How To Make a Lewis Bag from a Pair of Old Jeans

Over at The Kitchn blog, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan was facing a problem. She had a bottle of rye whiskey and wanted some ice shards for chilling it down. What to do? She recalled how her dad always solved that dilemma: he’d take an expired pair of jeans and have Sara Kate’s mom cut off part of one pants leg and sew it into a bag. Then he’d use a mallet and whack the hell out of the ice.

What is this but a denim Lewis bag? A Lewis bag, if you’ve never heard of one, is a canvas bag used for exactly this same purpose. If you’ve seen the video in the Mint Julep post I put up last week, you’ve seen a Lewis bag. Now you can make your own, using denim.

Yes, as Sara Kate points out in her post, you need to think about the dyes and washes used to make denim, but I don’t personally feel that there’s much to worry about. I’m going to try this; it looks like a brilliant idea.

Meanwhile, on Kickstarter …

Swizzle sticks are interesting devices. I don’t mean the plastic straw-like things that we know today as swizzle sticks. I mean true wooden swizzle sticks.

Originally made from slender tree branches, they’re meant as stirring tools for a type of cocktail called a “swizzle.” The swizzle is a tall drink, made of rum, lime juice, crushed ice, and sugar. In a way, it’s similar to a mint julep. The stick is a long-handled device with four or five “spokes” radiating out from the end in a star-like pattern.

Plunge the swizzler into the glass, all the way to the bottom. Take the stick between your palms and spin it. The spokes will spin around in the bottom of the glass and get the ice moving. Then you move the stick up and down in the drink, you’ll see the glass frost over.

The problem of the swizzle stick is not an easy one to solve.

Swizzle sticks are unique in cocktail ephemera, and they’re very hard to find; you normally have to import them from the West Indies, or have a friend bring some back. They’re natural products, so they vary a lot from stick to stick. Further, for working bartenders, true swizzle sticks can be a pain. They’re delicate and break easily, which means they need to be replaced often. And then you’re stuck, again, trying to ship some in from Martinique.

Two guys in the Boston area think they have a solution. One of these guys is Adam Lantheaume, friend to A Dash of Bitters and proprietor of The Boston Shaker, the awesome barware store in Somerville, Mass. He’s teamed up with a product designer, Brian Johnson, to develop and test a plastic swizzle stick, one that looks and works just like the wooden model but lacks its drawbacks.

The only thing is, the plastic model is a complex piece of product design, and it requires a special steel mold — one that’s expensive to produce. So Adam and Brian have turned to Kickstarter to fund the production of the mold. Further, to launch a product like this, they need to meet minimum order quantities, and the Kickstarter campaign will fund those, too.

So check it out. Like all things Kickstarter, there are fun premiums if the project is fully funded.

Incidentally, what Adam and Brian are doing here is surprisingly normal in the cocktail world. If a bartender needs a tool or ingredient that she can’t find, there’s nothing stopping her from just making it for herself or adapting another item to the task. Bartenders used to make their own liqueurs and tools all the time, so this DIY approach is right on target.

Ad of the week: Martini Gigger

Playboy, in its early days, ran a lot of these small ads for cocktail and liquor accoutrements. This one’s pretty awesome, and I’d love one.

martini-gigger

I mean, it’s perfect, right? At least assuming you like your martinis at 4 to 1, and I do. And I love that it’s normative in this era (unless you’re a Mortini drinker) to expect a 3.5 ounce cocktail.

Boston Shaker

On Friday of last week, I had the joy of visiting the Boston Shaker in Somerville, Mass., a semi-new store-within-a-store that specializes in bar- and glassware, cocktail makings (everything but the booze, that is), and other fun stuff. I had a fun visit with proprietor Adam Lantheaume, and enjoyed a cameo appearance by Fred Yarm, of Cocktail Virgin Slut. Here’s a bit of a photo tour, for those who’ve never see the place. Forgive the blurriness of some of these photos. Also, if you’re a regular viewer of my Flickr stream, forgive the fact that you’ve already seen all these damn pics.

Adam, proprietor of The Boston Shaker

Proud, happy proprietor Adam. Say, “Hi Adam!”


The Boston Shaker @ Grand

Lovely pewter julep cups, made by a company in Connecticut. Support almost-local business! I’m hoping to add a couple of these to my home bar fairly soon.


The Boston Shaker @ Grand

Sterling-silver cocktail picks. At nearly a Benjy a pair, these ain’t coming home with me anytime soon.


The Boston Shaker @ Grand

Books ‘n’ more.


The Boston Shaker @ Grand

Bitters, and a lot of them.


The Boston Shaker @ Grand

Paraphernalia, muddlers, syrups, etc.