Floating Cup – Impractical Barware

Another entry in the annals of impractical barware. For a measly $229 you too can buy one single cup that floats when plugged into power and suspended above a single specific coaster. Great trick, and the video of someone walking while holding one of the wireless versions is sure neat. Would be more neat if the wireless wasn’t the size of a brick.

Within reason these are neat but there is just too much going on here for this to be anything other than a newton’s cradle for drinkers with more money than good sense.

Impractical Barware: The NES Flask

flask-drunk_huntAt first blush this appears to be a simple cartridge game from the original Nintendo Entertainment System.  Fond memories and nostalgia for the days when you had to blow on your games to make them work properly will fill anyone old enough to drink at this point.

I know my own childhood was occupied by an NES light gun pushed point blank to the CRT of my TV trying to nail rapidly moving pixelated ducks.

So when the kickstarter for Inkwhiskey.com and their NES inspired flask came out I was intrigued.

Their current line runs to at least 10 styles including tetraquila, Kegaman, Metal Beer and my own favorite CastleVodka.

The flask itself is a neat piece of design, the tab of the cartridge is rubberized and fits snugly into the flask generally preventing leakage.  It also fits flush to the point where many many people have walked right by them thinking they were old games rather than barware.

It isn’t listed on the website but testing has shown the flask able to hold slightly more than 4 ounces.

As funny an idea as this is, the design still suffers from a number of flaws.  Like many flasks you will need a funnel to fill it properly.  The package includes a plasticized card which they claim can be rolled into a funnel.  Experience shows this to be folly.  The card is not a good funnel and often requires two hands to operate properly meaning you would need someone else to pour.

The opening of the flask is recessed into the tab slot, meaning you will need either a straw (recommended) or will need to put your mouth entirely over the cutout to prevent spillage.  Pouring from the flask itself is also difficult as the opening isn’t really a pour spout and is hard to aim.

Finally the flask is entirely plastic.  There is a reason most liquor bottles aren’t made of plastic and it has to do with the solvent properties of ethanol and the tendancy of plastic to leech unwelcome flavors and chemicals into the contents.  Judging from the plastic type I’m not entirely worried about chemicals, but plastic flavors wearing over time could be an issue if the flask isn’t properly cleaned.  Proper cleaning is another problem given the interior corners and unusual position of the spout.

For $20 I’m not expecting a great deal out of this item.  It’s mostly for the wow factor of drinking out of a game cartridge in front of other geeks.  If you’re actually trying to smuggle alcohol into an event or carry it with you there are many other more functional options.

Bartools: Perfect Black and Tan

blackandtanI’ve discovered my kryptonite.  I can see kitchen gadgets, drinkware, tools and any number of other items on the shelf but if their use is obvious I can ignore them.  At a recent trip through Williams Sonoma I wandered near the barware and nestled among the cocktail shakers and bottle openers was this simple coaster sized piece of steel.  It was sold unboxed, with neither instructions nor explanation.  The sole concession to marketing was the engraving around the edge promising the “Perfect Black and Tan”.

It was $9.95 and I was hooked.  From the photo it appears to be slightly flat but this could not be further from the truth.  The outer ring is designed to sit comfortably around the rim of a pint glass and leaves enough space for a collins or a slightly wider than normal bar glass.  The middle ring is recessed from the rim and has equally spaced holes in the bottom of the depression.

The center is a raised dome of steel, perfectly rounded.  Being of a single piece of steel there are no welds, seams or rough edges.

Not being a beer drinker I was not immediately familiar with the Black and Tan as a beverage. If you are (like me) unknown to this drink it is a combination of lager and stout most notably Guinness and Harp.  Porter and pale ale are also allowable but the original is as given.  The drink is supposed to be served in a pint with a relatively clear separation between the two beers.  A “Perfect” black and tan would have a firm line between the two without blending between.  The Guinness is usually presented on top despite the arguably higher specific gravity (thickness).

pousse CafeTo achieve this process the bartender will pour the Guinness over the back of a bar spoon or down the angled edge of the glass to slow the beer’s fall.  This is the same process would would use to create a Pousse Cafe only simpler because you’re using only one layer.

So the intent with this little gadget is to give you a bar spoon like surface to spread out the overall pour and prevent splashing and then allow it to drain evenly through the holes across the surface of the lager preventing a single point of contact from mixing the two beers.

This is a fantastic design and a well thought out item.  It is easy to clean, use and store.  Beyond those elements it is useful for more than simply the original intention.  You could use this item to create similar separated drinks in any other format so long as the glass allows for the drain openings.

I have not attempted an actual pousse cafe with this as most of them use significantly smaller quantities of alcohol and much smaller glasses.

Impractical Barware: Sempli

The history of barware is the history of housewares itself.  Properly storing your home brew required a ceramic crock able to handle the fermentation without breaking down.  Given the stretch of time since the dawn of human civilization the drinking glass has undergone numerous beneficial improvements.

Sempli_Cupa-RocksThis is not one of them.  Produced by the fine people at sempli I give you the CUPA-Rocks glass.

Like a number of products the visual impact of this piece is stunning.  It is from there that the process begins to fall flat.

For starters let us assume that like many people your table is a flat surface.  This glass, when placed upon the table, will have a natural tendency to roll.  Unless of course you used a level to place your table it is entirely possible that your first careless guest is going to have fine bourbon splashing to leeward the first time they need to bend over and tie a shoe.

But wait, surely the designer foresaw this?  You would be partially correct.  I’m assuming that after a few catastrophic dinner parties the light bulb went on, but rather than simply find a way to redesign the glass itself they elected to cash in on their own flaw.  They offer specialized coasters and place mats with a slot in them to prevent the glass from rolling.  (Yours for $18 a 4-pack, $38 for the place mats).

Next problem is the server, when you have a table full of people who want a nice double whiskey you would normally put the cups on a tray and save time.  Attempting to do that with these would result in a short wine-glass version of carol of the bells followed by a lot of spilled whiskey.  Never fear, the CUPA-LIFT comes to the rescue.  A piece of wood with divots in it designed to hold the CUPA glasses flat and stable you can buy them in a 2 slot for $40 or a 4-slot for $80.

Next problem, the pour.  I’m going to assume you elected not to buy the lovely $80 CUPA-LIFT and want to pour a couple of quick glasses for friends.  Normally, with a standard straight sided cylinder you can pour one or two fingers and be relatively assured of an even pour at a standardized amount.  With CUPA the tilt of the glass creates a somewhat oblong trapezoid where the volume requires a slide rule and some advanced trigonometry classes to figure out.

Did I mention that these ROCKS glasses cost $50 for a pair?  A steal after you tack on the $40 tray, $18 coasters and $38 place mats.

If you seriously have the money to burn for a boondoggle like this, send the money to me and I’ll gladly forward you a considerably less troublesome bar glass.

You might say, “It’s just one glass, what’s the big deal?”  Ah ha, there you would be wrong.  The CUPA is part of an entire line of products from wine “goblets” to shot glasses, from wine decanters to water carafes.  All with equally IKEA-esqe names and all with the exact same ridiculous spinning-top bottoms to them.

The Rejigger

rejigger

A couple of months back I kickstarted a new drinking tool.  It had caught my eye from another blog I was reading and for $20 it looked like a fair deal even if it never came about.

The good news is that not only did the kickstarter meet their goal but the finished product has been rolling off the line.  Mine arrived yesterday.

On the whole the packaging is minimal.  The card you see stuck in the top is also the recipe guide on the back.  There are no details about the volumes or how to adjust for other kinds of cocktails.  It does give a pretty good visual on how to use it but beyond that you’re on your own.

First thing to notice is that it’s basically a three compartment jigger.  There are more than a few items like that already on the market.  The Kikkerland Jigger Cube, The Uber Bar Tools ProJig and the EZ step jigger.

I hauled out a selection of glassware to see how it would fit.  Your standard Bar Glass/Pint seems to be the ideal vessel for using this device.  While it would fit in my working glass it was far inside the mouth which was not ideal for retrieving it once done.  It would not fit at all inside an old fashioned glass and a Collins glass was far to small to make any kind of seal.

Using my Oxo measure I checked the volume of the three compartments.  The largest is 2 ounces, the medium is just a touch over 1 ounce and the smallest is about a half ounce.  I measured up to the line on the side which I’m assuming is the desire.  Again without instructions more clearly defined I can simply guess.

As a first run I elected to try a whiskey sour as I had just been drinking and making them at a birthday party a few days before and was happy with the general result.  The combination indicated on the card is bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup, in descending order.

Given my own preference I usually go for a simple shot and then even out the mixers at 1:1 for an ounce each.  I’ve also been accused of having a sweet tooth so take the recommendation on simple syrup accordingly.

As a measure cup the Rejigger did pretty well.  I didn’t have any spillover, the base is nicely balanced so it doesn’t move.  It’s not as weighty as a metal jigger but it’s still far more functional than my Zevro ring jigger which is really more of a fidget toy than a serious bar tool at this point.

I did miss the pour spout of my Oxo measuring cup but was able to get everything into the cup without serious adjustment or any spillage.

whiskeysourrejigged

Once the Rejigger was on the glass it seemed to sit pretty well.  When I started shaking however it didn’t seem to hold up as well.  For someone used to a boston shaker this was a bit loose.  I wasn’t able to keep the seal for very long and with a little pressure the Rejigger seemed to want to slip further into the glass causing problems with velocity and consistency.  It did come out a lot easier than getting the seal off of a metal shaker but that’s really to be expected with plastic.

 

The drink properly shaken for the optimal 15-20 seconds we crack the seal and strain into a cocktail glass.

I was not well pleased with the outcome of the drink itself.  It was rushed and I can do better so I’m not going to condemn the Rejigger for bad lemon juice.  The mixture had a pretty good appearance and was cold enough to serve which in the end is really all you need once you get going.

It cleans up pretty well, the inside doesn’t have a lot of nooks to get into and I didn’t need a scrub brush to get it clean.

Storage wise I’m going to put it on par with my oxo cups, it’ll sit inside a cup or shaker pretty well so it’s not going to just be loose in your kit.

This tool warrants some additional investigation.  It is possible I’m not really the target audience as I am both finicky about my drinks and able to mix with a speed that makes this all-in-one tool somewhat redundant.  I will attempt to have some non-bartender type people give it a shot and see how they like it.

As a general tool I give it a 7/10.  It’s not expensive, bulky or a uni-tasker.