In our previous Tools of the Trade post, we laid out the basic tools for the bar. As we’ve mixed drinks – both old and new – for the blog, though, we thought that we should add some of the tools that we’ve added to the Consumatorium bar over the past few months.
- A Boston Shaker. While we recommend and prefer a Cobbler Shaker (see the original Tools of the Trade post), sometimes a Boston Shaker is just what the bartender ordered, especially when you are muddling fruit, veggies or leaves for your drink. The brand is generally not important here, just get a high enough quality shaker so that the stainless steel and glass parts make a good seal (easier than you’d think) and the glass can stand up to some beating.
- If you’re going to use a Boston Shaker, you’ll need a Cocktail Strainer as well since there isn’t one built in like in a Cobbler Shaker. There are many manufacturers of these and, again, it doesn’t matter too much which one you buy. That said, get one that that has a fairly fine strainer (it’s generally a little spring) and will filter out most of the remnants of your muddled material. I like the OXO one referenced in the link above.
- A Fruit Zester is ideal for cutting a twisty peel of fruit for garnishing your drink without getting any of the fruit’s pith – the white spongy material between the skin and the actual fruit – in the drink. Why do you care? Because the pith is actually sour and can easily change the taste of your drink. We like to use a zester because it’s easy to control and makes spraying the top of the drink with the oils from the fruit a no-brainer. Once again, brand isn’t important. Something comfortable and sharp is all you need.
- Y-Peelers are great for a little variety in your garnish shapes and sizes. They’re more like a classic fruit/vegetable peeler, but shaped to offer a little better control of the peel you’re getting. If you want a slab of peel rather than a curly-cue that a zester creates, this is your go-to tool.
- A Microplane Grater/Zester probably won’t see much action in your bar, but it’s good to have one around for a few drinks you may find yourself making like our Ginger Beer Refresher that uses freshly ground ginger in the drink. They are so fine that the pulverize whatever you are grating, leaving small pieces that can dissolve in the drink. The Microplane brand is pretty hard to beat here.
- Vacu Vin Wine Savers. Yeah, this one is unusual, but we’ve found they can make a real difference in your bar. As we’ve discussed in several posts and in our page, Behind the Bar – Bartending Tips, vermouth goes bad pretty quickly. It’s fortified wine and, like wine, just doesn’t hold up. It should be refrigerated after opening, but we’ve found that using a Vacu Vin, which sucks the air out of the bottle, helps a lot too. Easy to do and cheap. A worthwhile addition.