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!