Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Six Bar Tools I’m Taking to Italy

As someone who writes home-entertaining books (and articles and such), going away for seven months to Italy involves some planning of the bar tool sort--meaning, I can’t leave certain tools at home. Yeah, I’m a bar baby, or too spoiled, or just a glutton for traveling heavy and breaking my rented car and my permanent back. It’s not that I think I couldn’t make slurpable drinks during the next seven months without the following seven drink-making devices (at least I think I could), but I’d just feel so naked behind the bar (or at the counter). And not in the good “making-drinks-naked way.” And I need to make pretty drinks for my other blog as well. So, here’s a look into my suitcase.

1 and 2: Cocktail Shaker and Jigger
The below is my most-utilized cocktail shaker, the WMF Manhattan stainless steel cobble-style shaker. I love both how it fits me, and how it has a little elegance in its lines. It also packs up nice, and since I’ve used it almost every day for the last 10 years, isn’t something I’d leave behind. The jigger alongside it keeps me honest on measuring, and also keeps the shaker company.

3: Fine Strainer
A good fine strainer is used for drinks that contain fresh juice (which should be the only juice you use). I wanted to bring a juicer to go with it, but decided at the last minute that squeezing would work as long as I took the fine strainer to ensure no chunky-ness gets into the drink (or teeth).

4: A Hawthorne Strainer
This is the Oxo strainer, very portable, and a necessary extra just in case the built-in strainer on my shaker gets overwhelmed by the amount of drinks being made, or the fruit in them, or anything else. Can also work if I decide to use another shaker when out and about. A generally handy item to have, and small enough to not worry about packing.

5 and 6: Pug Muddler and Stir Spoon
Just in case you don’t know, a muddler is a sturdy baseball-bat-looking item used to ‘muddle’ fruit, herbs, spices, and to knock people on the knuckles if they try to steal your drink. Mine is a Pug muddler, which means it was made by hand with care by a gentleman named Chris Gallagher. It’s made from Mexican Rosewood (or Bocote), and is a substantial and beautiful thing, and one which, between us, I paid more than I would tell you for—but look at it! Pug muddlers aren’t available in stores, but you can email Chris directly if you want one (and you should), at jcgallagher08 @ hotmail . com (removing the spaces). The stir spoon is one of many I have, needed for stirring drinks.

7: Square Ice Cube Trays
I can admit it: I am addicted to perfectly square ice cubes. I can’t be completely happy without them (okay, okay, that’s going overboard. But I am awfully fond of them, and how them both melt slowly when whole and crack perfectly when smacked with the Pug Muddler, making them the ideal ice for the home bartender). My ice cubes are made in the the Tovolo Perfect Cube silicone ice cube tray, and I’m hoping they don’t get swiped when going through customs. Because customs agents probably want perfect ice cubes, too.

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