Especially during the pandemic, most of us added, or upgraded, at least one product to our home bar set up. For me, it was a strainer.
My old strainer was perfectly fine in terms of function but it honestly looked like it had been through the wars. It had little dings all over it and the once beautiful, shiny copper plating had worn off in spots through excessive use.
So like everyone else I went online and what came back to me was magnificent. So much so, that for the first couple of days, I ended up using the old strainer and kept the new one on show. But the longer I looked at the strainer, with all its glamorous newness, on my bar cart, the more ratty all my other cocktail tools began to look.
The jigger looked worn, the bar spoon looked dingy and don’t get me started on the almost decaying edges of my shaker.
But I kept putting it off. It’s easy enough to resist the temptations of sparkly new bar tools when they are online but when you come face to face with fancy ice tongs (that you really don’t need) that’s a whole other matter.
And that’s what happened to me on my second day in New York. Staying in the West Village, I was walking down 8th Street when I spotted a sign. An unassuming sandwich-board style, that bore the simple words ‘Cocktail Kingdom Showroom’ and I just couldn’t resist.
I pressed the buzzer, walked up the stairs and came face-to-face with an Aladdin’s cave of bar tool treasures. With most of the tools available in either silver, gold, copper or black, they sat neatly lined up on their shelves, calling to me like mermaids from a mariner’s tale.
Now I’m not normally obsessive-compulsive but there was something about the sense of order and alignment of all the tools that felt extremely satisfying. The fine strainers with their conical mesh were all assembled together and the talons of the ice tongs were reaching out to me in a way that made me want to just buy them all.
Now, there were two sensible choices that I should have made here. The first was to just get something small, like a jigger. A little souvenir to take back that wouldn’t take up much room in my suitcase.
The second choice would have been to have gotten that choice in silver. After all, silver is what most commercial bars use as it is the workhorse colour. It’s utilitarian while not being unattractive and it doesn’t show the usage wear as much as the other plated colours.
But, of course, I did neither of those things. I got my credit card out, slapped it on the table and went to town.
Before I knew it, I had shaker tins, a jigger, ice tongs and a tear-drop bar spoon all sitting on the counter to be rung up. And this time I didn’t just buy one simple hawthorn strainer. No, no. I got a fine strainer, a julep strainer and another hawthorn strainer (but this time the antique-style one without the prongs).
To make matters worse, I got them all in black. With a sophisticated, almost jazz-age feel that I convinced myself would look timeless on my glass bar cart, it seemed the only choice. Sure, I know it won’t wear as well as other colours, but really that’s tomorrow’s problem.
Today, I have to work out how to fit all my shiny new toys in my suitcase and discover how a Toddy Lifter (that I really, really don’t need but couldn’t resist) ‘accidentally’ made it into my purchases.
For more information on Cocktail Kingdom and its range, go to cocktailkingdom.com
Or if you are in New York, the showroom is open to the public from 10am – 6pm Monday to Thursdays & 10am-2pm Fridays at 31 West 8th Street New York.
Images by Tiff Christie