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quiet1

Must have cocktail making supplies not on normal lists

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As I mentioned in the books thread, I'm getting a friend some home bar start up supplies for a gift, and someone is going in with me now so I can get a little more stuff. However I don't want to get him junk he doesn't need, and I don't want to overlook anything that would be useful that isn't normally on the 'how to set up your home cocktail cart' kind of lists. (Which I have read. A lot.)

 

So is there anything you find yourself using a lot that may not be what someone would consider standard for a home bar? (I'm thinking along the lines of using a garlic press for something clever other than garlic, not fancy expensive stuff like a home centrifuge. :D )

 

My basic plan is a couple books, basic tools (mixing container, bar spoon, some kind of shaker although I haven't decided which yet, etc.) and then with whatever is leftover in the budget buy minis at the state store so he can experiment a little with stuff. I know minis aren't often the best of the best, but they're also usually not all awful and I think he'd get more out of trying the same drink with 2-3 brands of whiskey to see how it changes things than he would appreciate a single bottle of something nice, at this point. (I'm in PA so a lot of the interesting looking stuff is hard to get anyway. Though my state store does have a little 'travel' set of The Bitter Truth bitters that I was planning to get.)

 

Is there anything homemade that would be a good addition? Is it worth trying something like one of the homemade bitters recipes kicking around to add something particularly interesting to the gift? Now that I am planning it from more than just me, I feel more pressure to make sure it is good because I am spending other people's money too.

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My best addition to my kit has been a Viski Professional Lewis Ice Bag and Mallet (available on Amazon though I don't know how to add the EGullet Amazon link). I've found using cracked ice makes a big difference in shaken cocktails and the ice bag and mallet are a night and day improvement in my prior method, which was to wrap the ice in a side towel and crack it with a meat tenderizer. I find it well worth the small investment.

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...and if you wanted to raise the bar with ice, you could get the Neat Ice Kit. Makes a good gift (I received mine as one) because it's a bit splurgy and not essential, but it works well and there's considerable aesthetic satisfaction in a homemade huge and clear ice cube. Includes a Lewis bag.

 

For homemade ingredients, brandying some cherries might be best. I've made other ingredients (falernum, pimento dram, grenadine, orgeat, syrups) but they are probably less versatile. 

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For something homemade, you might try making a couple of simple syrups for him. (label them so he knows to refrigerate them)  I make a regular gomme syrup with white sugar, I also make one with jaggery and gond. I also add a couple tablespoons of grain alcohol per pint, just to try and extend shelf life, it may not really work as well as I think it does. Anyway, having syrup handy really speeds things up. I like the jaggery one for making really old drinks, to try and capture authentic flavors. The crafts stores sell lots of decorative food grade containers this time of year, so your product can look good, too.

 

I have not made bitters yet, so, I have no clue about that, sorry.

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I would certainly recommend a starter set of bitters, like the travel set you mentioned.  A number of bitters are available on Amazon, like this basic set of Angostura, Peychauds and Regans Orange bittersir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00GYJI4M, Scrappy's classicir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00N1EOFS or exoticir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00N1EQI5 samplers.

The little 1/4 cup Oxo angled measuring cup can stand in for a lot of jiggers.  I have several of these.

A small mesh strainerir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01731H12 is handy for double straining even if your mixing glass or shaker set includes a Hawthorne strainer.

A citrus zester/channel knife ir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01KQ95UUfor citrus peel garnishes is nice (I don't have that particular one so others may have more specific recommendations)

A jar of Luxardo cherriesir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B001CDOBC could be a nice treat to add.

 

Depending on your friend's existing glassware collection, a couple of rocks glass and/or smaller stemmed cocktail glasses might be a nice addition - so many contemporary "martini" glasses are bathtub sized so I often find good smaller examples at thrift stores but they are also available in shops.

 

Oooops! I just realized that you asked for supplies not on normal lists and everything I mentioned would be very normal - sorry!


Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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So so many helpful comments already, I love egullet. :D

 

On 11/30/2016 at 11:49 AM, EMichels said:

My best addition to my kit has been a Viski Professional Lewis Ice Bag and Mallet (available on Amazon though I don't know how to add the EGullet Amazon link). I've found using cracked ice makes a big difference in shaken cocktails and the ice bag and mallet are a night and day improvement in my prior method, which was to wrap the ice in a side towel and crack it with a meat tenderizer. I find it well worth the small investment.

 

Ok, that had not occurred to me. But I can see that getting use for non-alcoholic drinks, too, especially in the summer. So that seems worth it.

 

On 11/30/2016 at 0:20 PM, Craig E said:

...and if you wanted to raise the bar with ice, you could get the Neat Ice Kit. Makes a good gift (I received mine as one) because it's a bit splurgy and not essential, but it works well and there's considerable aesthetic satisfaction in a homemade huge and clear ice cube. Includes a Lewis bag.

 

For homemade ingredients, brandying some cherries might be best. I've made other ingredients (falernum, pimento dram, grenadine, orgeat, syrups) but they are probably less versatile. 

 

He's currently kind of skeptical about how geeky people get about ice and is also the sort to enjoy setting up his own ice freezing contraption. But that is a neat set. I am going to get him a couple Death Star ice sphere molds because, well, Death Star!

 

On 11/30/2016 at 0:36 PM, Lisa Shock said:

For something homemade, you might try making a couple of simple syrups for him. (label them so he knows to refrigerate them)  I make a regular gomme syrup with white sugar, I also make one with jaggery and gond. I also add a couple tablespoons of grain alcohol per pint, just to try and extend shelf life, it may not really work as well as I think it does. Anyway, having syrup handy really speeds things up. I like the jaggery one for making really old drinks, to try and capture authentic flavors. The crafts stores sell lots of decorative food grade containers this time of year, so your product can look good, too.

 

I have not made bitters yet, so, I have no clue about that, sorry.

 

I like the idea of simple syrup, that is an annoying thing to make and I know you can buy it but that doesn't seem like the most useful use of funds for a home situation where not that much gets used at a time. I'm pretty sure somewhere I even have some spare brand new small squeeze bottles so I could use those with a nice label. I'm sure one if the books I get will have recipes I can use. 

 

On 11/30/2016 at 1:46 PM, blue_dolphin said:

I would certainly recommend a starter set of bitters, like the travel set you mentioned.  A number of bitters are available on Amazon, like this basic set of Angostura, Peychauds and Regans Orange bittersir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00GYJI4M, Scrappy's classicir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00N1EOFS or exoticir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00N1EQI5 samplers.

The little 1/4 cup Oxo angled measuring cup can stand in for a lot of jiggers.  I have several of these.

A small mesh strainerir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01731H12 is handy for double straining even if your mixing glass or shaker set includes a Hawthorne strainer.

A citrus zester/channel knife ir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01KQ95UUfor citrus peel garnishes is nice (I don't have that particular one so others may have more specific recommendations)

A jar of Luxardo cherriesir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B001CDOBC could be a nice treat to add.

 

Depending on your friend's existing glassware collection, a couple of rocks glass and/or smaller stemmed cocktail glasses might be a nice addition - so many contemporary "martini" glasses are bathtub sized so I often find good smaller examples at thrift stores but they are also available in shops.

 

The little travel set is quite cute and seems a good starting point - I'm assuming one is an acceptable stand-in for Angostura? It's by The Bitter Truth and has: "Celery, Orange, Creole, Old Time Aromatic, Jerry Thomas Own Decanter" (https://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Truth-Cocktail-Bitters-Traveler`s/dp/B006ZMHWAIir?t=egulletcom-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B006ZMHWA - actually cheaper at the local store for once, though.)

 

Love the idea of looking for glassware, although frankly I might keep any nice finds myself. :D (I have to be careful how much alcohol I have at a time and the GIANT modern wine glasses so many companies have now drive me crazy because if I pour a sensible portion - for me - of something in one of those glasses it just looks sad and like someone drank all of it before I got the glass.)

 

On 11/30/2016 at 2:25 PM, Kerry Beal said:

A Pug Muddler - depending of course on how much you want to spend!

 

Haha, no, he's the type who will read Morganthaler talking about making a muddler from a rolling pin and want to get out a saw and sandpaper himself. I was just going to get him an inexpensive one for now. (I know some people claim you can muddle with a bar spoon but many people seem to think that is annoying and fiddly.)

 

Another question - how much does it really matter if you have a super nice shaker versus something less expensive to start with? Is there a "don't go below this price point or you will hate yourself forever?" line? (I was looking at cobblers style shakers because they seem more friendly to someone with occasional grip issues? But I am just guessing there.)


Edited by lesliec Added eG-friendly Amazon link (log)

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4 minutes ago, quiet1 said:

 

 

Haha, no, he's the type who will read Morganthaler talking about making a muddler from a rolling pin and want to get out a saw and sandpaper himself. I was just going to get him an inexpensive one for now. (I know some people claim you can muddle with a bar spoon but many people seem to think that is annoying and fiddly.)

 

 

Actually that's what I did (well not with a rolling pin) here is the one I made for Anna for her birthday a few years back. Made one for myself as well.

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8 minutes ago, quiet1 said:

I'm assuming one is an acceptable stand-in for Angostura? It's by The Bitter Truth and has: "Celery, Orange, Creole, Old Time Aromatic, Jerry Thomas Own Decanter"

 

I think Old Time Aromatic could go in recipes calling for Angostura, and Creole in recipes calling for Peychaud's.

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A cobbler style shaker is fine, IMO. I like having an all steel set, you can't break anything.

 

You might also want to look into making grenadine.


Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
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I am well aware he doesn't NEED one, but now you guys got me poking around more I'm mighty tempted to get him one of these: http://shop.standardspoon.com/collections/all-items/products/wingman-cocktail-spoon (swanky cocktail spoon) because it is exactly the sort of ridiculousness he likes. However that would cut into the funds available for supplying stuff to MIX with said spoon, and I feel like it would be very mean to give him cocktail stuff but no good way of immediately trying it out if he doesn't have much booze in the house.

 

I know shaking a drink meant to be stirred doesn't end well - is the reverse also true or can you get away with stirring some traditionally shaken drinks without much loss of quality? (I know anything with egg would really need a good shake, but something just with juice?) I'm wondering if I can skip trying to figure out a good cocktail shaker and use that $$ for other stuff without limiting him to only traditionally stirred drinks until he finds a shaker he likes himself.

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2 hours ago, quiet1 said:

Another question - how much does it really matter if you have a super nice shaker versus something less expensive to start with? Is there a "don't go below this price point or you will hate yourself forever?" line? (I was looking at cobblers style shakers because they seem more friendly to someone with occasional grip issues? But I am just guessing there.)

I would recommend a Koriko shaker. They are actually very easy to use, the tins are weighted and feel great, and they are not that expensive, less than $20 for a set. That's what most craft bars use these days and they are very well made. I never use my cobbler shaker anymore (other than for decoration...).

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Just now, quiet1 said:

I am well aware he doesn't NEED one, but now you guys got me poking around more I'm mighty tempted to get him one of these: http://shop.standardspoon.com/collections/all-items/products/wingman-cocktail-spoon (swanky cocktail spoon) because it is exactly the sort of ridiculousness he likes. However that would cut into the funds available for supplying stuff to MIX with said spoon, and I feel like it would be very mean to give him cocktail stuff but no good way of immediately trying it out if he doesn't have much booze in the house.

 

I know shaking a drink meant to be stirred doesn't end well - is the reverse also true or can you get away with stirring some traditionally shaken drinks without much loss of quality? (I know anything with egg would really need a good shake, but something just with juice?) I'm wondering if I can skip trying to figure out a good cocktail shaker and use that $$ for other stuff without limiting him to only traditionally stirred drinks until he finds a shaker he likes himself.

That spoon was designed in San Diego! It's a very cool product.

Make sure to look at Cocktail Kingdom as well, they have a great selection! I love my teardrop cocktail spoon.


Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)
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38 minutes ago, FrogPrincesse said:

I would recommend a Koriko shaker. They are actually very easy to use, the tins are weighted and feel great, and they are not that expensive, less than $20 for a set. That's what most craft bars use these days and they are very well made. I never use my cobbler shaker anymore (other than for decoration...).

 

I need something well-made (because he'd hate something cheaply made that didn't fit together right, like some of the super cheap shakers you can get) and beginner friendly and not too hard on the wrists and arms - I was thinking the cobbler style looks easier to manage from a wrist/arm point of view but they do seem to be much fiddlier in terms of construction quality - lots of stories of them getting stuck and being unpleasant, especially the cheap cheap cheap ones. So I'm kind of undecided about which way to go with a shaker. (Other than NOT glass - I know plenty of people use a glass as part of the shaker but that just seems like a recipe for a broken mess if you have any issue with grip.)

 

I'm quite happy to be told I'm wrong about the grip thing, though, if I am. I'm just guessing based on size and how people seem to hold things in videos and so on. I rather wish one of the shops like Cocktail Kingdom was local so I could just poke around in person and see what stuff is like to hold. I'm a tactile shopper by preference. :)

 

If he sticks with the cocktail thing in the future he is totally getting one of those penguin cobbler shakers just for decoration because it'll amuse me and the only local sports team he follows are the Penguins.

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There are local shops that sell Cocktail Kingdom & other bar items, at least in my area. I am not sure where you are located though.

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Just for reference, my list so far is approximately:

 

1-2 books for reference/recipes exact choices pending a trip to a bookstore to hopefully look in person

Mixing glass (decent, not cheap-nasty but not super expensive, he can buy the pretty ones himself)

Mixing spoon (that swanky one is taunting me, is it bad to buy a gift so you can play with it?)

Oxo mini measuring cup

Death Star ice ball molds (Because Death Star, even though fancy ice isn't strictly necessary)

Oxo Hawthorne strainer (because everyone but everyone seems to like it)

Shaker if I can find one that isn't too expensive that will meet quality and usability requirements (maybe Koriko tins?)

Inexpensive decent muddler

Hand-held citrus press (pending snooping to see if he has one already)

 

Bitters + booze in some combination that makes sense with available funds once the equipment is sorted out. (I'm thinking minis with more than one version of the same spirit - ex. 2 or 3 minis of rum - plus either a bitters set or whatever bitters are necessary to make at least one decent cocktail with the provided booze. My plan is to work by drink, so enough to try a couple versions of an Old Fashioned, for example, and then if I still have money to spend add more minis to make 2-3 versions of a different drink, and so on, so he can taste-test what he likes and doesn't like and isn't stuck with large bottles he hates.) (I know you don't make an Old Fashioned with rum, but the only rum drink I can think of ATM is a mojito and that isn't seasonal.)

 

Plus at least a simple syrup if not a couple of things from one of the books since it is easy enough to whip those up at home, probably with stuff I already have. (My weakness for pretty canning bottles and jars I will find a use for Someday is coming in handy!)

 

Very tempted to add a Lewis bag as I can see him getting use out of that for non-alcoholic drinks also. 

 

Am I forgetting anything important or must-have?

 

It seems like a lot all written out like that, and I didn't start intending to do it all but he's one of those difficult to buy for types so when I mentioned it to a couple of mutual friends they also liked the idea. And when you're the one who has already been doing research, people kind of go 'well, you know best, just tell me what to get.' So now I need a plan.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, FrogPrincesse said:

There are local shops that sell Cocktail Kingdom & other bar items, at least in my area. I am not sure where you are located though.

 

I'm in PA, so I never know where to go for good bar stuff (as opposed to junky bar sets) because all our alcohol is in state stores, and I would expect cocktail tools to be sold with the alcohol but so far I've only seen inexpensive stuff at the state stores, not that I've visited many of them. It is a failure of creative thinking to figure out where else to look.

 

What sort of local shops do you find bar supplies in? Kitchen stores maybe? (We do have a couple local independent kitchen stores but as much as I want to support small businesses, they're so oddly located relative to me that I never go to either of them. They could have the entire Cocktail Kingdom range in stock and I wouldn't have a clue.)

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A shaker makes a perfectly fine mixing glass. I use two "tin" (stainless steel) unweighted shakers. I haven't tried weighted though. Not sure which I'd prefer.

 

Using two metal shakers makes it MUCH easier to break the vacuum seal caused by the ice chilling the air inside. You can squeeze the outer tin and pull the inner one right out.

 

Consider adding a little high proof vodka to any syrups to extend their shelf life.

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Good list! Couple of other ideas

 

A small fine strainer to double strain those citrus drinks

Maybe a couple of 2oz bottles with spritzer tops? I love using these to spritz absinthe for Sazeracs or aromatic bitters for Old Fashioneds. (btw, a rum OF with maple syrup as the sweetener and a good aromatic bitters is pretty seasonal in my book).

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For the fine strainer, I prefer the ones with a conical shape rather than a round shape. So like this one, not the OXO one. Much less mess.

Small spray bottles are a great idea. I use mine for absinthe, orange blossom water, Laphroaig, etc.

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9 hours ago, quiet1 said:

What sort of local shops do you find bar supplies in? Kitchen stores maybe? (We do have a couple local independent kitchen stores but as much as I want to support small businesses, they're so oddly located relative to me that I never go to either of them. They could have the entire Cocktail Kingdom range in stock and I wouldn't have a clue.)

Actually one craft bar I know has a few limited supplies. Then there are a couple of specialized cocktail shops that have equipment like Bar Keeper or the Mixing Glass in the LA area. I tried kitchen shops but never liked their cocktail stuff.

 

I did a quick google search and found this place in Philadelphia. Maybe they can help?

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15 minutes ago, FrogPrincesse said:

For the fine strainer, I prefer the ones with a conical shape rather than a round shape. So like this one, not the OXO one. Much less mess.

Small spray bottles are a great idea. I use mine for absinthe, orange blossom water, Laphroaig, etc.

Good call on the cone shape!

Ohh, Laphroaig in a spritz is better than a Binaca Blast!

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5 hours ago, EvergreenDan said:

A shaker makes a perfectly fine mixing glass. I use two "tin" (stainless steel) unweighted shakers. I haven't tried weighted though. Not sure which I'd prefer.

 

Using two metal shakers makes it MUCH easier to break the vacuum seal caused by the ice chilling the air inside. You can squeeze the outer tin and pull the inner one right out.

 

Consider adding a little high proof vodka to any syrups to extend their shelf life.

 

I want a mixing glass because of being able to see what you're doing as you build the drink. I might just go with a lab beaker though, he won't mind the mad scientist aesthetic.

 

You're all starting to convince me about a Boston shaker over a cobbler though.

 

1 hour ago, BillBuitenhuys said:

Good list! Couple of other ideas

 

A small fine strainer to double strain those citrus drinks

Maybe a couple of 2oz bottles with spritzer tops? I love using these to spritz absinthe for Sazeracs or aromatic bitters for Old Fashioneds. (btw, a rum OF with maple syrup as the sweetener and a good aromatic bitters is pretty seasonal in my book).

 

That rum OF sounds really good.

 

44 minutes ago, FrogPrincesse said:

Actually one craft bar I know has a few limited supplies. Then there are a couple of specialized cocktail shops that have equipment like Bar Keeper or the Mixing Glass in the LA area. I tried kitchen shops but never liked their cocktail stuff.

 

I did a quick google search and found this place in Philadelphia. Maybe they can help?

 

Wrong part of the state. :( We do have a couple craft bars though, maybe I'll try there. 

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