Kickstarter Watch: Neat Ice Kit

Here’s a … neat idea: the Neat Ice Kit, by a couple of guys out of New York City. For those who care about the clarity of ice they use in cocktails, here’s a way to make perfectly clear ice at home, without wasting any of the cloudy stuff.

See, ice normally freezes from the outside in, which forces gas into the center of the ice. That gas clouds up as it freezes. There’s not normally any way around this, unless you insulate the ice tray in some fashion. (Camper English has done A LOT on this topic, if you want to know more.)

What this kit does is insulate the sides and bottom of a brick-shaped ice mold. The ice freezes top down, forcing the gasses to the bottom, where they freeze cloudy. The top freezes clear. So you lop off the top, use it for cocktail presentation, and use the cloudy bottom for crushed ice or for shaking drinks or whatever.

(Don’t touch my cloudy bottom, though. Mrs. Bitters will have words.)

The kit, if the Kickstarter pans out, will include the mold, an ice chisel, a mallet/muddler, and a bag in which to hammer ice into crushed form.

I’m not normally all that bothered by cloudy ice at home, but even I think this is a nifty project.

By the way, these guys have a track record of successful Kickstarter products, if that matters to you. The Glif iPhone holder/tripod looks really cool to me.

Campari 2014

I don’t normally post about this sort of thing, but Campari just announced that Uma Thurman is its calendar star this year. I know it’s not a universal opinion, but I think Uma’s great in nearly everything I’ve seen, and I also think she’s stunning. Campari’s released a few behind-the-scenes shots, and here’s one you might like:

 

Campari Calendar 2014_BTS (7)

Ad of the Week: That’s Some Party

A couple of years ago, I talked to Robert Klara, a writer for Adweek.com, about old bourbon advertising, and the shifting perceptions of bourbon over the generations. I enjoyed our telephone conversation, and I appreciated that Klara made me look smart in the subsequent article. I’ve followed his work on and off since then, and so when I saw AdWeek’s insightful and intelligent look at the subtle history of gay themes in advertising, I was unsurprised to see that Mr. Klara had written it.

Klara describes how, in much of the advertising from the middle of the previous century, gay themes are subtext; they’re closeted, if you will, obvious to a gay consumer, but easy to overlook by straight ones — and, more to the point, by straight executives at the brands in question.

“It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” says Bruce H. Joffe, professor of communications at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., and author of A Hint of Homosexuality?: “Gay” and Homoerotic Imagery in American Print Advertising. “A straight person who looked at these ads in Time or Life magazines would just turn the page and not think anything, but someone with a gay sensitivity would say, ‘Oh my God, look at that!’”

Here’s an example, not mentioned in the Adweek.com article, but culled from own collection of booze ads. This is for Hiram Walker ran in the June 27, 1938, issue of LIFE:

hiramwalker-full

Heh.

The fellow in the blue smoking jacket and ascot seems to be taking in the view, yes?

All the Boys Think She’s a Spy

Whatever you might think of Edward Snowden, you can keep to yourself; this is a booze blog, after all. But in reading a recent New York Times story about his flight from Hong Kong, I found a funny tidbit.

You see, when a group of lawyers arrived to advise Snowden in Hong Kong, he asked them to stash their phones in the refrigerator. According to Adam Harvey, a designer specializing in countersurveillance, it seems that the materials in the fridge walls serve as a Faraday cage, a space that can disrupt radio communication.

For the drinker with something to hide, however, there’s a better solution:

Another household object that functions similarly, Mr. Harvey has learned through his research into cellphone data transmission, is a stainless steel martini shaker.

“It’s a perfect Faraday cage – it will block all radio signals unless you decide you need to pour yourself a martini,” he said. Although this sounds like a plot point in a James Bond movie, Mr. Harvey has actually done extensive tests on the shaker in the process of developing a surveillance-blocking cellphone case called the OFF Pocket.

Now that’s cool. Most of serious cocktail geeks probably have four of those damn, otherwise-useless things cluttering our barware. At least they’re useful for something.