Tools: Working Glass

working glass

Glassware is an important factor in any cocktail.  It can make or break the drink you’re attempting simply for lack of space.

Consider the double old fashioned.  One of the reasons the glass style has that name is the drink the Old Fashioned which calls for a very minor amount of liquid but does ask that the bartender muddle the sugar and orange peel in the bottom of the glass.  That means you don’t need a tall glass but you do need a wide mouth and a solid base so that when you apply the muddler to the glass it doesn’t break in your hand and or miss some part of the bottom and leave the orange peel uncrushed.

To that end my current favorite drinking glass is the Luminarc Working Glass.  I picked up my first set of these while still working at Meyer and Frank many many years ago.  They were going out of stock and we had one box left.  I hid that box in the back room until the next sale day and with clearance and a coupon I picked up an 8 glass set for about 5 dollars.

They are a heavy glass with faceted body and rolled lip.  You will be tempted to stack the Old Fashioneds, resist.  They chip like the dickens and you will find that you’re down to highballs in a matter of months.  One of the nicer things about this glass is that the insides are straight, the bottoms are flat and they hold a lot of liquid.  The highball is a 21 oz which is more than enough for even a garbage pail of a cocktail like the AMF.

Additionally they sell a plastic lid which fits snugly over the top of either size.  Crate and Barrel only shows the white but I picked up one in red not too long ago.  I’ve also seen this same style at places like Kitchen Kaboodle.  What that lid does here is turn our glass into a shaker.

For those one glass cocktails that you don’t want to dig out the entire kit for, this is perfect.  The big glass means plenty of room for ice, and lots of air for the shake.  Not needing to pour means you don’t need a strainer or to crack the seal on your boston shaker.  My boston shaker is 24 oz compared to the glass’ 21.  Not a comparable loss here.

I’ve made a number of things in this and not been disappointed.   It doesn’t travel well.  It’s shorter than my boston all told but it’s wider at the base and the heavy glass isn’t indestructible.  A good all metal boston will be lighter and more durable for something like camping.   Additionally this doesn’t have any flash.  It’s a nice way to get yourself a kamikaze or a Negroni at 2am without having to wash anything but if you want to show off at a party or a convention it’s not the way to do that.

Now that I have a couple of sources for this type of glass I keep myself well in stock of them.  They hold up to drops and bumps a bit better than the standard pint glasses and they’re not much more expensive which means I wind up replacing them less often and saving money.

Tools: Shakers

I’ve not had a serious opportunity to use many shakers in my testing so far but I can speak reasonably about some of the benefits.

My current shaker is a lovely Boston shaker that was purchased for me at Crate and Barrel for about $20.  What makes this model interesting as Bostons go is the rubber seal rim around the glass portion.  This makes the seal between the glass and metal a lot tighter and doesn’t rely on the fit of the glass itself.  One down side is that the rim is starting to crack after only about 4 months of infrequent use and I’m not sure a replacement is possible.  The hawthorn Strainer that I have also doesn’t fit well into the glass making me think it’s a bit more narrow than a standard pint glass you might find elsewhere.

I have a metal on metal Boston purchased by another friend which I have only used once or twice having received both at around the same time.  I like having some visibility on what i’m shaking which also means the metal on metal has stayed in the cupboard.  I may take the larger half and a pint glass as a replacement if the rubber rim on my crate and barrel job fails entirely.

I had previously a nice metal shaker of a more traditional style with the strainer built into the top.  It was fine for myself but once I started mixing for friends it became a hindrance as it was not full sized and could hold at best a third of the volume of my current rig.  I would go back to that style again as I enjoy not having to wash an extra tool but it is my understanding from more professional bartenders that this style tends to gum up or freeze shut with prolonged use and can be more of a chore to clean between drinks than a separate strainer.

My next purchase is likely to be a Mason Shaker.  At 32oz this monster lets you mix some serious drinks.  I attempted to do some larger drinks at a recent convention and I think after 2 servings my current selection simply cannot hold the volumes required.  Being fitted to a Mason jar allows for both the built in strainer as well as glass sides to observe the process.  It’s not classy by any stretch but it will do when one needs to mix 4-5 drinks at once without having to stop and re-ice your shaker between runs.  I can foresee this being a much more two handed affair but at $29 i’m actually impressed with some of the quality i’ve seen.

An insulated shaker may be my next purchase.  The loss of heat in the shaking process means wet ice, watery drinks and the like.  Instead of having to change ice more frequently or change out shakers for one more recently inside the freezer this option seems like a way to keep the cold where it should be.

All picky business out of the way you really cannot undersell the benefits of shaking over any other method.  I have had drinks poured from one solo cup to another and there simply is something magical in the conversion going on inside a shaker.