Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Little Something For the Bar

At least one thing in this photo gets used on a nightly basis. Mr. C&G loves his bar tools and he insists everything here is essential to establishing a good home bar. A vast collection of liquor helps too, of course, but you won't get very far without a good cocktail shaker or a strainer. The bucket of accessories was a wedding gift more than 15 years ago, and I can assure you it's been used almost every day since.

Artisanal ice cubes are all the rage with the mustachioed and plaid clad hipster bartenders around town so of course we need to be able to make our own at home. The orange square ice cube tray and round ice molds (the grey and white doodads on the upper left) first debuted on the blog back in June and they've been in heavy rotation ever since.

Check out the ice ball in my Unusual Negroni (equal parts gin, Lillet, and Aperol) and with little contact between the ice and your beverage there's no watering it down. It takes a bit of getting used to, that feeling of being bonked in the lip by a snowball, but after a bevvie or two you'll get over it. Plus it makes it look like there's less alcohol in your glass, which is always good for self deception.

Not in the photo (because they're in the freezer) are the whisky stones. The tiny squares of Vermont soapstone retain the cold and add a bit of a chill to your favorite dram. Mr. C&G is a traditionalist when it comes to his whisky, maybe with a drop of water but certainly not chilled, so it's more likely I'll use them in my white wine glass. Perfect for the times I've brought home some bottles but forgotten to store them in the wine fridge.

And as fabulous as the cocktail recipes on my blog are, most of them come from these wonderful books. The two Gary Regan ones, The Joy of Mixology and The New Classic Cocktails get used the most. They're a great reference when you need a little bit of inspiration, with drink styles and ingredients organized in a very logical format. Dale DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail is equally indispensable and a great beverage resource for some trendier libations.

American Bar by Charles Schumann and Whisk(e)y by Stefan Gabányi are leather bound and look very impressive on your bar, but they're as informative as they are beautiful. American Bar has more than 500 recipes to work your way through, and Whisk(e)y is more of a reference book but an absolute must if you've got a whisky fan on your list.

The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park NY
For some fun non-fiction reading try the James Beard award winning How's Your Drink by Eric Felton. Mr. C&G picked this up at the C.I.A. bookstore, the cooking one and not the spy one, on the recommendation of a faculty member. The subtitle says it all, Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well. Sounds perfect to me.

Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany is a collection of culinary tidbits you'll want to work into your next cocktail party conversation. The Drunken Botanist I bought in the gift shop of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens purely for the title but it's been an interesting read. Who knew it's against the law to call something gin if it doesn't contain juniper berries. And who goes around and checks this? The gin police?

Capping off the book collection are two Glencairn whisky glasses, collected from visits to the Balvenie distillery and the Macallan distillery. The glasses are widely available online and a great gift for any malt lover. However the collection of Balvenie and Macallan bottles require a bit more legwork, and a trip through international duty free for some of them. Which as you can probably guess is the only thing on my holiday wish list, four round trip tickets to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, Upper Class of course.

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