Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lounge Essentials: Japanese Barware

For over a decade, I have been using a standard bar glass (typically a bar pint) to roll stirred cocktails. My bar is stocked with a half dozen of them which I also use as part of a Boston Shaker for mixing shaken drinks too.  Recently,  I began retiring the old pint glass.

First, I substituted stainless steel tops to my Boston shaker in lieu of the pint glass after seeing them used to achieve maximum chillness at some of the nation's top cocktail lounges. Then year ago, I began noticing heavy bottom crystal mixing glasses with a chemistry set beaker type spouts popping up at cutting edge establishments such as PDT in New York City.  My interest was peaked but it was impossible to find these glasses. Last summer, I attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and there was a buzz about the newest barware; the tools were Japanese and originated from innovations of the Tokyo cocktail scene. The mixing glasses were crystal with seamless pour spouts and the shakers are stainless steel cobblers that produce super ice cold drinks. The man to talk to about getting my hands on the gear -  Mr. Greg Boehm of Mud Puddle Books.

The Yarai mixing glasses are made from crystal, have an artistic glass design that also acts as a grip,  and features a beaker like spout for "seamless pours." The thickness of the glass keeps the drink colder and the weighted bottom prevents the glass from tipping over while the drink is being stirred. The bartender no longer needs to hold the glass because weight is centered. Again, the idea is to eliminate body heat from the hand for the coldest drink possible. Oh and they look pretty rad too!

The AG Cobbler Shakers are mini stainless steel cocktail shakers for single serving drinks. It is composed of three-part shaker and holds 500ml of volume. This tool is essential to a proper "hard shake." In addition, Greg Boehm told me that in Tokyo the cocktails are actually smaller and not American portions, so this cobbler shaker was born of necessity as well as style.

This barware does not begin and end with mixing glass and cobbler shakers. The AG Japanese style jiggers are long and conical shaped with a weighted in the center to prevent spillage. There are two sizes of jiggers - 30ml/15 ml (1 oz/1/2 oz) and 45ml/30ml (1.5oz/1 oz) which are about $10 each.  There is also a weighted Hawthorne stainless steel strainer which fits perfectly on the Yarai Mixing glass.

The mixing "trident" spoons are perfect for stirring drinks, acting as a bar spoon to add floats to drinks, and trident piece is meant to grab garnish and fruit. They also make a bar spoon with a tear drop shaped top which I recommend. No need to lose an eye while waiting for your Manhattan to settle.

Then we have the uniquely designed bitters dispensers or "dasher" bottles. According to bartender Joaquin Simo of New York's Death & Company, the Yarai bitters bottles dispense the most exact "dash."  Mr. Simo has tested these bottles against the all manner of bitters dispensers. There is no overage or spillage or subjective amount. Just the perfect dash.

For your home bar I suggest the following starter kit which are great tools to mix shaken or stirred cocktails.

The Basics in Japanese barware:
  • Yarai Mixing glass (500ml) - heavy and stable crystal with beaker like spout for seamless pour.
  • AG Hawthorne Strainer - also weighted.
  • AG Japanese jiggers - I suggest one 45 ml (1.5 oz) and 30 ml (1 oz). 
  • 1-2 stainless steel stirrers (32cm) with tear drop top or Bonzer muddler 
  • AG Cobbler Shaker (500ml) - if you want to master the hard shake, use what master cocktailian Kazuo Uyeda employs.
  • Yarai bitters bottle (50ml)
While you are at it, why not pick up spherical ice molds at MOMA Design Store for the true Japanese cocktail experience. These perfectly round ice balls are perfect in an Old Fashioned because the ice melts very slow. Again the idea is less melting and maximum coldness for the duration of the cocktail.

The Japanese barware featured in this post can be purchased at Greg Boehm's  Cocktail Kingdom along with one of the best assortment of hard to find bitters and bar accessories on the web.

Disclaimer: Loungerati has not received any complimentary Japanese barware or any compensation from Cocktail Kingdom or MOMA Design Store. The review of this product and opinions expressed are purely that of the author.

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