In­to The Spir­it: Cock­tail Helpers For Any Sea­son

We try a lot of spir­its here, whether it’s at fun events like whiskey tast­ings or trav­el fairs. But there of­ten is no sub­sti­tute for mak­ing your own- prepar­ing a set of fun recipes for a par­ty. We’ve got a love­ly liquor cab­i­net, but our tools have seen bet­ter days. Which means that it was time to look for some new gear to help us whip up cock­tails and test out some new spir­its.

Let’s start with the Bar10der. Very much a Swiss Army knife for the bar, this apt­ly-named mul­ti-pur­pose tool is ver­sa­tile, even if it doesn’t fit in­to a pock­et. Let’s break down the var­i­ous tools that flip and fold out: there’s a corkscrew and bot­tle top open­er, a mud­dler and ream­er, the clas­sic two-vol­ume jig­ger for mea­sur­ing your pours, a knife, strain­er, and stir­rer. There’s al­so an un­usu­al-look­ing zester and chan­nel knife pair­ing. As with many tools that com­bine so many func­tions, none are amaz­ing on their own- a four-inch blade is lim­it­ed, and the strain­er is pret­ty small. But this can be a handy tool for those with lim­it­ed space, or to take on the go. Col­lege stu­dents, es­pe­cial­ly, might find it handy. Warn­ing on the corkscrew, though: it didn’t work very well, as there is no easy way to get lever­age. Al­so, clean­ing the tool af­ter use is a bit of a pain (it’s hand wash on­ly). Avail­able in mul­ti­ple col­ors like blue,  green, or­ange and pur­ple, it’ll run you $50.

A great ad­di­tion to your bar would al­so be the Vac­u­Vin Cock­tail Set. A cou­ple of them are du­pli­cates, but the best ones aren’t, and we used both in com­bi­na­tion to great ef­fect. Vac­u­Vin makes some of our fa­vorite wine tools, in­clud­ing a cou­ple that we’ll be re­view­ing in the near fu­ture. But the Cock­tail Set, which is new enough that they didn’t seem to have it list­ed on their site, is the one we’d sug­gest buy­ing if you on­ly need one of the two in to­day’s pair­ing. You can’t go wrong with their ex­cel­lent Cock­tail Shak­er- the best one we’ve tried, as long as you’re OK with the more mod­ern plas­tic styling. Easy-to-view mea­sure­ments in both ounces and milliliters, plus it has a sol­id built-in strain­er, and a fun sil­i­cone top that pops open to pour eas­i­ly or flips shut for shak­ing. The kit al­so in­cludes recipe sticks, which al­so serve as stir­rers, with cute mul­ti-col­ored nibs to help you fig­ure out which drink is yours. The recipes (Sea Breeze, Tom Collins, Cu­ba Li­bre) were easy to use, if not read, since the plas­tic is clear as is the text. And the tongs/mud­dler/jig­ger were con­ve­nient, even if we like the oth­er jig­ger and mud­dler bet­ter, the tongs were handy. Each is avail­able sep­a­rate­ly, but the set is nice and the price is right: un­der $40 and avail­able be­fore the hol­i­days!

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