I’m writing this post during the Coronavirus pandemic. Billions of people across the globe are isolating in their homes. Folks have started exploring new hobbies and interests as a way to pass the time and to keep their mind sharp. Folks are depending heavily on virtual meetings, not just for work, but to stay in touch with friends. I’ve started having “virtual happy hour” with friends, where we share a drink and chat over video call. Cocktails & mixology are a bit of a hobby for me, so I thought I would share some of my hobby with you–even if it is a bit off-topic for a tech blog.
From time to time, I’ll post some “Just for fun” posts to break up the monotony of tech & professional help drivel, and I’ll share some off-topic content to help everyone’s mental health, and to help everyone on their quest to work-life harmony, as we work all work from home.
First things first: Please drink responsibly.
Essential bar equipment
This morning, my dear friend Kendra Little (blog|twitter) asked about “essential bar equipment” for her to going on her own mixology journey:
I've decided the one new skill it is realistic for me to learn in quarantine is how to make proper mixed drinks.
— Kendra Little (@Kendra_Little) April 16, 2020
Unbeknownst to Kendra, she’s given me fodder for this first blog post that I was already musing. Kendra is an amazing muse.
Here are the five items that are 100% essential, and everyone should have in their bar:
1. The OXO Angled Measuring Jigger
Measuring is incredibly important when you’re making cocktails. This Oxo measuring cup is 2oz, and allows measuring from 1/4 oz to 2 oz. This will let you make virtually any cocktail. Don’t free pour your cocktails. Professional bartenders make hundreds or thousands of cocktails per shift, and they are measuring via time with specialized pour spouts that have a measured rate of flow for pour. You can’t do this at home.
2. An all-stainless steel Boston shaker
If you’ve ever seen a bartender using a pint glass inverted into a stainless steel container to shake, that’s a Boston shaker. I suggest you get an all-stainless steel one for home. I’ve broken a bunch of pint glasses in my life, and that’s not fun. You’ve got to toss that cocktail (shards of glass aren’t good in a cocktail), and you’re down a glass! Pros might consider this “cheating”–but it’s OK to cheat! This is a hobby, not a full-time job.
3. A julep strainer
A julep strainer might look a bit different than the cocktail strainers you see more often, known as a Hawthorne strainer. I like the julep strainer because it’s easy to wash, and it works. The spring on the Hawthorne style gets messy. If you’re really sticking to the essentials, stick to the julep strainer. If you are really investing, you can get a set with both styles of strainer plus a small sieve.
4. A bar spoon
Yes, this silly 12-inch long spoon is totally essentuial. Not every cocktail is shaken. A classic martini, for example is stirred. And you’ll need one of these fellas to make that happen. You think you don’t need it (Right now, you just said to yourself, “Oh, I have a ton of spoons!”), but listen to me. Spend a few bucks and pick it up. You can thank me later. Using a soup spoon to stir your martini in pint glass gets old fast.
5. A citrus reamer
Good cocktails require fresh citrus juice. To juice a citrus, you’ll need a juicer. I like reamers for the same reason I like the julep strainer. It’s simple, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up much space. Sometimes I cheat and use fancy store-bought juice, but if I’m being honest, fresh juice is worth it, which makes this reamer worthy of being considered essential.
Bonus: A muddler
OK, so this isn’t strictly essential for everyone. Kendra mentioned mojitos, and you can’t make mojitos without a muddler. Get a wooden muddler. There are some fancy looking stainless steel ones, with rubber ends and they look really cool–but don’t be tempted. Muddlers are meant to smash up cocktail ingredients and release their essential oils. In an old-fashioned, you’re squeezing orange oil from the peel when you muddle it; In a mojito, you’re pressing mint oil from the leaves. The wooden muddlers do a superior job at this over their steel and rubber counterparts.
You mean .. the finger stirrer isn’t required equipment? (if you’re interested, Google Gaz Negroni Finger Stirrer…) I bought one for a joke because… well, maybe not that story at this time… but it can.. enliven conversation, especially when drinking. Um, anyway.