In the dim backwaters of time, well before my first whiskey sour, the highlight of the holiday season was the arrival of Christmas catalogs. The most important were from major retailers like Sears or JCPenney which always had pages and pages of toys on offer in the back which I would subject to a level of analysis and organization seldom seen since the D-Day invasion. As my age ticked up into double digits, I also discovered the women’s lingerie section featured page after page of women standing around in their underthings, but that’s a story for another day.
All that seems quaint in the era of the web where any suburban kid with an internet connection can summon up a selection of toys that would make the elves in Santa’s workshop weep quietly to themselves. (And, of course, the web was built on the ability to see pictures of people standing around in their underthings – or not in their underthings – so you have to go out of your way to avoid it.)
That doesn’t mean we can’t still get a bit of a thrill daydreaming over gifts we’d like to receive – or that we’d like to give. It just increases the value of getting a little help. That’s why I’m here. In the first post in this series, I suggested 10 books to brighten the eyes of the drinker in your life. In this one, we’ll look at a few toys…..errr, tools, I mean tools…that a drinker might love.
Cocktail Shaker: This one is almost a no-brainer, because even if you have a cocktail shaker or two, another one is always welcome. I have a fondness for novelty shakers: would your loved one like a pineapple, or an airplane, or a lighthouse.
Cocktail Mixing Glass: I am just as jealous of James Bond as the next guy, but on the matter of martinis, he was sadly misguided. First, he opts for vodka over gin, but that’s a fight for another time. More importantly for our purposes, is the shaken versus stirred question. If your drink doesn’t have fruit juices or cream or the like, you’ll find that stirring it preserves its clarity in the glass. Plus the genteel clinking of ice in the mixing glass sets a far more romantic mood than knocking everything back and forth in a shaker. Of course, if you get the mixing glass, you’re going to want a suitable bar spoon to handle the mixing. A special strainer wouldn’t hurt either. (A special call out to the folks at Cocktail Kingdom is in order whether you’re shopping at cocktailkingdom.com or their Amazon store, it’s pretty close to a toy catalog for grownups.)
Strainer: Speaking of strainers, some folks over in Spain have given them an artistic and arcane twist. I first saw one at a bar a few months ago, and they’re now on my wish list (just a hint to my friends that might be reading this).
Wine Preservation: Sometimes, you want a glass of wine, but you don’t want a bottle. If the wine you want doesn’t come in little tiny bottles, you either need to find some friends to help make it through the bottle or resign yourself to the rest of the bottle going into rapid decline. A new system keeps the cork in the bottle and pumps inert argon glass to make up for the volume left behind. That doesn’t help with twist tops, of course, but it makes it a lot easier to enjoy corked bottles at your own pace.
Clear Ice Maker: Whether you’re pouring whiskey on the rocks or an old-fashioned, a big ol’ piece of perfectly clear ice is sure to impress (and keep your drink from watering down too quickly). Getting all the clouds out of your ice takes some work, but a system like this one can make it easy.
Whatever you choose for the drinkists in your life (or yourself), here’s raising a glass to a festive season.
Photo: Chartreuse Swizzle with Barware
Photo Credit: Steve Morgan