Archive for the ‘Bar Tools’ Category

If you’ve ever spilled your drink, and face it, who hasn’t at least once in their life; these innovative drinkware inventions may be just the thing for your next party. Mighty Mug started out as a company that came up with a creative solution for on-the-go drinkers who take their coffee, tea and water with them.  The initial product sold well enough and the idea was simple. Design a container that won’t easily be knocked over if it is accidentally hit.

The ingenious mechanism is hidden in the base of each glass. It is a kind of multi-point suction cup that adheres the a smooth surface if the glass is knocked on the side, but lifts straight up with no resistance.  The company sent us samples of their highball glass, pint glass and wine glass.  I should mention that none of these are actually made of glass, but rather a crystal clear plastic.

Of course drinking from plastic takes some of the enjoyment out of drinking, but if you can overlook that aspect, the idea works pretty well.

If you know anything about physics, you’ll know that the center of gravity for any object is where it is most vulnerable to being off-balance.  The taller an object and the smaller the base, the more likely it is to be knocked over. Therefore, the wine glass in our testing was the one that was knocked over more easily than the pint glass, and the whiskey glass never was tipped over.  It helps to have liquids in the glasses to give them extra weight, so as the drink disappears, so the likelihood of it getting knocked over goes up incrementally.

Overall, it’s a clever idea and one that works pretty well overall.  So, GSN gives the concept an A+, and the execution a solid B+.

For more information go to: The Mighty Mug

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Founded in 2004, Crunchies Natural Food Company was the first consumer brand to focus on freeze-dried snacks. Crunchies is the only U.S. consumer freeze-dry brand that is vertically integrated “farm to fork,” meaning that it knows exactly where its fruits and vegetables were harvested. Unlike dehydration, freeze-drying requires no additives for preservation and generally means a longer shelf life, lighter weight and that satisfying crunch. Committed to responsible sourcing and traceability, Crunchies is the only U.S. consumer freeze-dry brand that is vertically integrated farm to fork. All Crunchies products feature only one ingredient – fresh fruit or veggies – and are Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free Certified, vegan, Kosher Parve and Halal with no added sugar or artificial flavoring. Other Crunchies products in the line include strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, cinnamon apple, strawberry banana, mixed fruit and beet.

The GSN offices recently received samples of the strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, and raspberries.  Why, you may wonder.  Well, because these freeze-dried fruits can also be used as a cocktail rim garnish.*  Some will work better than others.

The pineapple was the most difficult to work with, as some of the pieces were quite thick and leathery.  These might make a better garnish if stuck on a cocktail pick in a tiki style drink.  The mango is great with a traditional Margarita in place of a salt rim.  The blueberries add a lot of fantastic color, but the flavor is pretty subtle.  These might be more interesting as floating garnishes on a cream-based fruit cocktail.  The strawberry also looks great floating on top of a strawberry daiquiri.  The raspberries are pretty tart, but also contain the seeds, which make them a bit problematic.

Overall, though, an interesting idea which deserves some experimentation.

For more info go to: CrunchiesFood

*To learn the technique behind using freeze-dried fruit as a cocktail rim garnish, check out One Hungry Mama.

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Yes, it’s time to once again drool over all of the new boozy books coming out in the next few months. Well, don’t literally drool on them. Regardless, these libatious literary works will be bound to leave an impression on you. Ok, enough with the puns…

Whisky Rising: The Definitive Guide to the Finest Whiskies and Distillers of Japan by Stefan Van Eycken (Author), Jim Meehan (Foreword) Cider Mill Press Raise a glass to Japanese whisky! Whisky Rising is the essential reference with revolutionary new insights into the emerging world of Japanese whisky, featuring profiles on distilleries new and old (some so new, they don’t even have whisky yet!), interviews with master distillers and blenders, and reviews and tasting notes for the best of the best, plus a definitive catalog featuring all of the must-drink whiskies! Follow the whisky bar guide and learn something new from the nosing and drinking tips. Whisky Rising will give you a taste of the good stuff!

The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes Abrams Image The Periodic Table of Cocktails is a fun, concise, and appealingly geeky new concept to cocktail appreciation. The foundation of the book is a periodic table organized by cocktail styles (Martinis and Up, Fruity/Tropical, Highballs/Muddles, Collinses/Fizzes, etc.) and by predominant base alcohols across the chart’s rows (vodka, gin, tequila, etc.). If you like one cocktail in the table, you should enjoy all the cocktails that surround it. The book also offers the background history and make-it-yourself recipe for each of the more than 100 “elements” or cocktails. The book will be published with a companion volume, The Periodic Table of Wine.

The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics by Warren Bobrow Fair Winds Press Whether you’re new to mixing drinks or have been creating your own cocktails for years, The Craft Cocktail Compendium has everything you need to know to mix, shake, or stir your way to a delicious drink. With over 200 craft cocktail recipes, expert mixologist Warren Bobrow will help you broaden your skills and excite your taste buds with unique takes on timeless favorites and recipes you’ve likely never tried before.

The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson Ryland Peters & Small The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution is the fifth book by bestselling author Tristan Stephenson. Explore rum’s remarkable history from its humble origins to its status as life-blood of the Royal Navy and its love affair with Cuba. Discover its darker past, with tales of devils, pirates and its reputation as the revolutionary spirit. This fabled drink is in the midst of another revolution, transforming from uninspiring grog to premium product, with aged and spiced premium varieties leading the charge. Learn about how rum is made, from the science of sugar cane and molasses to distillation and unique ageing techniques. The Rum Tour will transport you to the most exciting rum distilleries the world has to offer, with Tristan’s signature tasting notes guiding you towards the right rum at the right time. Explore the legendary Caribbean home of rum to the pioneering rum makers around the world-embracing dynamic new techniques and taking flavor to dizzy new heights. Finally, Tristan’s mixology skills will help you master jazzed-up versions of the Mai Tai and Mojito, perfect a Planter’s Punch and keep you on trend with Brazil’s famous Caipirinha and Batida cocktails, made with rum’s sister spirit, cachaça.

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit by Fred Minnick Voyageur Press Once the drink of sailors and swashbuckling pirates, rum is the most versatile — and the most varied — spirit in the world. It is consumed neat as a sipping drink, on the rocks, and in a dizzying variety of cocktails like the mai tai, mojito, and pina colada. In Rum Curious, author Fred Minnick first takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the world of rum, describing its many styles; explaining the great variety of fermenting, distilling, and maturing processes; and highlighting distillers and distilleries. He then teaches the reader about tasting rum — revealing the experience offered by brands ranging from the familiar to the unusual and obscure. A final section provides recipes for classic and innovative rum cocktails from around the world. Rum Curious is the one book the reader will need to understand and appreciate rum in all its glorious variety.

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley Countryman Press American Prohibition was far from watertight. If you knew the right people, or the right place to go, you could get a drink―most likely a variation of the real thing, made by blending smuggled, industrial alcohol or homemade moonshines with extracts, herbs, and oils to imitate the aroma and taste of familiar spirits. Most of the illegal recipes were written out by hand and secretly shared. The “lost recipes” in this book come from one such compilation, a journal hidden within an antique book of poetry, with 300 entries on making liquors, cordials, absinthe, bitters, and wine. Lost Recipes of Prohibition features more than 70 pages from this notebook, with explanations and descriptions for real and faked spirits. Readers will also find historic and modern cocktails from some of today’s leading bartenders.
Full-color illustrations throughout.

Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir by Betina J. Wittels (Author), T.A. Breaux (Editor) Fulcrum Publishing Take an intimate look into the contemporary world of absinthe. International in scope, Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir is a visually rich journey into an alluring subculture. Filled with color reproductions of classic and current lithographs, posters, cartoons, as well as photos of antiques, glassware, and other tools of the absinthe drinker, this new and comprehensive guide explains and illustrates the history, culture, and mystique of the drink known as the Green Fairy. The authors provide insights into the controversy and effects of the Green Fairy through the stories of famous connoisseurs, including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. In addition to a rich history, this detailed new guide includes recipes, reviews of existing Absinthe brands, and absinthe’s contemporary culture and ritual. Confirmed absinthe drinkers, neophytes, the curious, and collectors will all find this book equally intriguing and seductive.



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The farm to table movement resulted from consumer desire to eat fresh and local produce. Now a Connecticut based Craft Juicery is bring the concept to cocktails with the country’s first cold-pressed, fresh juice bar mixers — RIPE Bar Juice.

Created by Michel Boissy who grew tired of “day-glo” Margarita mixers, RIPE Bar Juices are redefining consumer expectations of what cocktail mixers can be. The process is simple – start with the best fruits and vegetables, use the absolute minimum in processing, and offer a juice that surpasses all others in freshness, taste, and nutrition.

“Until now, mixers have been limited to juices from concentrate, loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives and who knows what else,” said Michel Boissy, Founder, FreshBev.  “Shelf stable may be fine for soup, but we believe in sticking to our principles. So when you want to serve cocktails that are truly fresh—again and again—they have to be made with RIPE Bar Juice.”

At the RIPE Craft Juicery in New Haven, Connecticut, every step in the making of fresh juices is managed to ensure the time from grower to refrigerator is mere days as opposed to weeks. All juice extraction is done under one roof and never above 45°. Within minutes of being extracted, the raw juices are bottled and submitted to high-pressure technology — making them safe and preserving nearly 100% of the color, flavor, aroma, and nutrition.

“You only get out what you put in — so we start with nothing less than the best,” said Boissy.  “We source non–GMO fruits and vegetables straight from farms we know. Our produce is picked at the peak of ripeness, and then we lock in that freshness. So when you pick up a bottle of RIP Bar Juice, you know it was made in the past few weeks, not months.”

RIPE Bar Juices are available nationally through Whole Foods and select regional grocery chains in 750 ml bottles (SRP: $9.99).  For a list of store availability by state, click here. Bar Juices may also be ordered online and are shipped via 2-day express in custom refrigerated coolers to preserve the freshness.

Agave Margarita Very well done, with a fresh squeezed lime flavor that has just enough tang. Not cloyingly sweet either.  A perfect balance between the agave and citrus. Try this with a blanco or silver tequila to get the full benefit of flavor. GSN Says: Recommended.

San Marzano Bloody Mary Having tried dozens of Bloody Mary mixes over the years, this one stands out.  A great fresh tomato flavor, nothing like canned, coupled with a great spice blend and just the right amount of citrus.  The mouthfeel is chewy, not watery and the heat is mild, but noticeable. GSN Says: Recommended.

Agave Mojito It’s hard to pull off a mint flavor without making it taste like chewing gum.  This comes close to a fresh mojito, but struggles a bit with the mint which lasts much longer on the palate than a fresh Mojito would.  Still, if you’re craving one and there is no mint in sight, this will do once in a while. GSN Says: Good in a pinch.

Bajan Punch Interestingly, one of the ingredients is Angostura bitters.  Without it, this would be pretty much a typical fruity tropical flavored sour mix.  But, the bitters lifts this up higher and gives it a bit of pizzazz. You can use a white or gold rum in here and everyone will be pleased.  GSN Says: Good for beginning tiki enthusiasts.

Classic Cosmopolitan This is the weakest of the bunch, mainly because one of the key ingredients is missing: Cointreau.  RIPE replaces it with orange juice and it doesn’t serve it well.  It is more like a cranberry-lime mixer than a true Cosmopolitan. GSN Says: Not classy.

RIPE also offers two other flavors not sent for review: Classic Lemon Sour & Cocktail Cranberry.

For more information go to: Drink Ripe

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GSN Review: HyperChiller


The HyperChiller is the invention of Nick Anusbigian, an iced coffee lover, who tried making ice coffee at home with cold brew and pour over ice recipes. After deciding neither of these methods were convenient or easy, he went back to spending time and money everyday buying ice coffee from the coffee shop.

As Nick said, “I came up with the HyperChiller when my wife, Julie, got me a Keurig for Christmas in 2014. This came out of my frustration, which I know many of you share, of trying to make great iced coffee quickly at home.”

After experimenting with prototypes and developing a detailed specification he took to Kickstarter to fund the production of the first run of HyperChiller. Since then the product has taken off, with tens of thousands of HyperChiller sold around the world and with coverage in Oprah Magazine, Ask Men, Maxim, Uncrate and other press outlets.

But, this is not just for coffee, it can also chill wine, spirits and cocktails very quickly.  Just be aware that if you do make a cocktail, you’ll have to add water to account for the usual 20% dilution when shaking or stirring a drink with ice.  Unless of course, you like really string cocktails.

HyperChiller Review: We tried this around the office this week with coffee, wine and whiskey.  It works as advertised and does it well.  The set up of the system is super easy and needs only to be done once  month to keep things fresh.  The only drawback is that it takes 12 hours to bring the Hyperchiller to the desired temperature. So, if using with freshly brewed coffee, you’re only going to get one serving every 12 hours.  That being said, it works much better with room temperature liquids like wine and spirits, liqueurs, or juices. Just pop it back in the freezer for a few hours and it is ready to go again. The design is well done and it’s a handy item to have on hand in the freezer if you are an iced coffee fanatic or if someone stops by unexpectedly for a glass of wine and you don’t happen to have a bottle chilling in the refrigerator. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: HyperChiller

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sd2891-my-book-club-drinks-tin-sign-reading-book-store-humor-bar-garage-funnyAnother new year, and time for new resolutions! One of mine is to do more reading and learn about the fascinating worlds of spirits and mixology.  Here are some GSN recommended titles to be on the lookout for in the next few months.

610bdum3xml-_sx311_bo1204203200_Empire of Booze by Henry Jeffreys (Random House UK) Empire of Booze is a loose history of Britain, cleverly and humorously told through its contributions to alcohol, charting the rise of British power from its small corner of Europe to global preeminence. Each chapter features a historical period and a drink—tracing its origins and examining its impact on British culture, literature, science, philosophy and religion. Learn about how the champagne we drink today is owed to British technology for making sparkling wine; rum and India Pale Ale were developed so they could withstand the long, hot journeys to Britain’s burgeoning overseas empire; whisky became the drink of choice for weary empire builders far from home; and how without alcohol, the pre-20th century global economy could not function. With drink recommendations offered throughout, you can booze while you read along. So raise a glass to Britain, the Empire of Booze, whose alcoholic innovations are some of its greatest, lasting gifts to the world.

51kg36gdxlDistilled in Oregon: A History & Guide with Cocktail Recipes by Scott Stursa (The History Press) Early Oregon fur traders concocted a type of distilled beverage known as “Blue Ruin,” used in commerce with local Native Americans. Drawn by the abundant summer harvests of the Willamette Valley, distillers put down roots in the nineteenth century. Because of Oregon’s early sunset on legal liquor production in 1916–four years before national Prohibition–hundreds of illicit stills popped up across the state. Residents of Portland remained well supplied, thanks to the infamous efforts of Mayor George Baker. The failed national experiment ended in 1933, and Hood River Distillers resurrected the sensible enterprise of turning surplus fruit into brandy in 1934. Thanks in part to the renowned Clear Creek Distillery triggering a craft distilling movement in 1985, the state now boasts seventy distilleries and counting. Author Scott Stursa leads a journey through the history of distilling in the Beaver State.

51sygfxonl-_sx373_bo1204203200_New Orleans Cocktails: Over 100 Drinks from the Sultry Streets and Balconies of the Big Easy by Sarah Baird (Cider Mill Press) Mix up more than 100 of the Big Easy’s most celebrated and innovative cocktails, and immerse yourself in the culture and history of the South’s most famous city with this gorgeous new drink recipe collection. New Orleans has a cocktail culture that goes way back—and for the first time ever, you can be transported to the heart of this trendsetting city with more than 100 creative and artful cocktail recipes. Tour the best bars in NOLA and around the world. Evocative photos, scene-setting bar descriptions, mixologist insights, party planning themes, and shopping tips make this the perfect guide to the art of New Orleans drinking. With gorgeous, full-color photography throughout, and cocktails inspired by Crescent City writers, musicians, and revolutionaries, New Orleans Cocktails features unique libations shared by the best bartenders in the Big Easy, as well as creative new twists on old classics.

515zqmazusl-_sx389_bo1204203200_Hennessy: A Toast to the World’s Preeminent Spirit by Glenn O’Brien & Jean-Philippe Delhomme (Rizzoli) Lavishly illustrated, this is the first book on the world’s most famous cognac producer. Considered a benchmark of excellence, its blends have become icons of refinement and luxury. In Pass the Henny, renowned writer Glenn O’Brien invites the reader to discover the history of cognac. The highly entertaining text, filled with extraordinary events and O’Brien’s irresistible humor, is married with classic cocktail recipes and evocative imagery that conveys the lifestyle of the Hennessy connoisseur through the ages, including the Mad Men of the 1960s and today’s stars of hip-hop. Featuring contributions from such cultural luminaries as Shepard Fairey, Nas, Futura, Fab 5 Freddy, and Todd Selby as well as never-before-seen images from the Hennessy archive, Pass the Henny is an informative and engaging account of the world’s most revered brandy and a book that belongs on every cognac enthusiast’s shelf.

51dmhdjqhkl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Where Bartenders Drink by Adrienne Stillman (Phaidon Press) Where Bartenders Drink is THE insider’s guide. The best 300 expert drink-makers share their secrets – 750 spots spread across 60 countries – revealing where they go for a drink throughout the world when they’re off-duty. Venues range from late-night establishments and legendary hotel bars to cozy neighborhood ‘locals’ – and in some surprising locales. The 750 expert recommendations come with insightful reviews, key information, specially commissioned maps, and an easy-to-navigate geographical organization. It’s the only guide you need to ensure that you get the best drinks in the most memorable global locations.

41csjvfotel-_sx357_bo1204203200_Rum: The Manual by Dave Broom (Mitchell Beazley) This is a book about how to drink rum of all kinds. It’s about classic rums and new-generation rums, about rhum agricole and about premium aged rums, about rums from all over the world. It’s about rum enjoyed with cola and ginger beer. About the best rum for a classic daiquiri. About rum cocktails that ooze style and personality. Above all, it’s about enjoying your rum in all kinds of ways. The days of rum being seen as a minor spirit are over. The category has been reborn in recent years with developments such as the rise of premium aged rums and spiced rums. The range of rums available has widened dramatically, with tiki bars in every major city globally. Add in cachaça – Brazil’s native cane spirit – and you have a hugely popular distillate. So there’s no surprise that the premium rum market is growing at an astonishing rate – from 23 percent per annum in the US to 74 percent per annum in France, for example. The mission of this book is to help drinkers appreciate this complex spirit, find the style they like and discover how this versatile spirit can best be enjoyed. It will help you to understand your rum – how it’s produced (whether from molasses, cane syrup or cane juice) and whether it’s dry, sweet, fresh or oaky. More than 100 different rums are featured and analysed, from rich, sweet mellow Guyana rums to the vegetal peppery rums of Martinique or Guadeloupe and contemporary spiced rums. Dave Broom provides a description and graded tasting notes for each brand, allowing you to create the perfect mix every time. Finally, a selection of classic and contemporary cocktails shows just how wonderfully versatile this spirit is.

51u4cjh748l-_sx328_bo1204203200_Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife & Bartending Tradition by Cody McDevitt & Sean Enright (The History Press) Pittsburgh’s drinking culture is a story of its people: vibrant, hardworking and innovative. During Prohibition, the Hill District became a center of jazz, speakeasies and creative cocktails. In the following decades, a group of Cuban bartenders brought the nightlife of Havana to a robust café culture along Diamond Street. Disco clubs gripped the city in the 1970s, and a music-centered nightlife began to grow in Oakland with such clubs as the Electric Banana. Today, pioneering mixologists are forging a new and exciting bar revival in the South Side and throughout the city. Pull up a stool and join Cody McDevitt and Sean Enright as they trace the history of Steel City drinking, along with a host of delicious cocktail recipes.

51dbmlcapdlAbsinthe: The Exquisite Elixir by Betina J. Wittels & T.A. Breaux (Fulcrum Publishing) Take an intimate look into the contemporary world of absinthe. International in scope, Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir is a visually rich journey into an alluring subculture. Filled with color reproductions of classic and current lithographs, posters, cartoons, as well as photos of antiques, glassware, and other tools of the absinthe drinker, this new and comprehensive guide explains and illustrates the history, culture, and mystique of the drink known as the Green Fairy. The authors provide insights into the controversy and effects of the Green Fairy through the stories of famous connoisseurs, including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. In addition to a rich history, this detailed new guide includes recipes, reviews of existing Absinthe brands, and absinthe’s contemporary culture and ritual. Confirmed absinthe drinkers, neophytes, the curious, and collectors will all find this book equally intriguing and seductive.


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optiwine pocket DecanterMade in France, Optiwine® uses what they term “nano-aeration technology” to improve the flavor of virtually any wine in only 10 minutes. Visually appealing, elegant and quite portable, the Optiwine Pocket Decanter is made out of clear and sturdy materials with the same texture and transparency as crystal glass, without its fragility. 

There are three versions available singly or as a set.  Each is specific to a type of wine and age.

optiwine pocket Decanter

– Optiwiner 4: For red wine from 0 to 4 years old.

– Optiwiner 6 : For red wine from 4 to 10 years old as well as white and rosé wine from 0 to 2 years old.

– Optiwiner 8 : For red wine over 10 years old as well as White and rosé wine over 2 years old.

We tried the various decanters using three bottles of the same brand of wine for each of the three Optiwine decanters by tasting:

1) the wine unaerated directly from the bottle

2) aerated with the Optiwine

3) and finally with our office Vinturi aerator

Both the Optiwine and the Vinturi smoothed out the rough edges of the wines (which were in the 415-$30 per bottle range).  The Vinturi seemed to work best, and certainly quicker than the Optiwine.  But, the Optiwine also brought out some of the subtleties which had been lost by the noisy aeration of the Vinturi.  One definite improvement in aeration that the Optiwine provides is silence.  You just sit back for ten minutes and it does its magic on the wine before it ever leaves the bottle.

If nothing else, it makes for an interesting conversation piece for your next wine party and they are easy carried in a pocket if you are going out to a fine restaurant.

GSN Rating: B+

Optiwine® is a company located in Cadaujac, in the Gironde, created by Michael Paetzold – a winemaker, vineyard owner and specialist in winemaking techniques with 25 years’ experience – and Olivier Caste, a wine lover and enthusiast.

For more information go to: Optiwine


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