Moms need a good drink just as much as dads; yet, it’s the paterfamilias who is most often the recipient of a booze-related tribute.
Father’s Day is the second-busiest holiday after Christmas at BYOB Cocktail Emporium, says Kristen Voisey, owner of the Toronto store. “We sell a lot of whisky decanters and whisky tumblers and Scotch glasses,” she says. “It’s almost as easy as a tie.”
While you probably can’t go wrong getting essential bar gear for pops, there’s a lot of room from good to great. To get you there, we asked bartenders across the country to recommend the top-notch tools of the trade.
A Hawthorne strainer
Jeffrey Van Horne, a Dartmouth-based bartender and former bar manager at Lot Six Bar & Restaurant
“The Hawthorne strainer fits all shaker tins, Boston glasses* and other mixing glasses and uses a spring to hold the broken shards of ice, fruit and herbs back while straining the cocktail. This is the essential strainer that all bartenders use for both shaken cocktails (containing citrus, muddled fruit and herbs) and stirred cocktails (containing only clear ingredients such as spirits, bitters, vermouth, sugar syrup, etc.).
“When the Hawthorne strainer is put in place on the opening of the shaker tin, you should be able to open and close the gate of the strainer, which mediates the flow of the cocktail out of the shaker tin. The quality of the Hawthorne strainer is often judged by the tightness of the coil in the spring (the tighter the coil the finer the strain) and how it fits onto the shaker tin. My favourite is the Koriko Hawthorne strainer from CocktailKingdom.com. It comes in three options: stainless steel, copper or gold-plated if you want to be really fancy.”
Koriko Hawthorne strainer, $22.95 (U.S.) at cocktailkingdom.com
*A large glass or plastic mixing glass with a large bottom that is used for shaking.
A mixing glass
Grant Sceney, head bartender, Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, and Diageo World Class Canada bartender of the year in 2014
“Having good mixing glasses is sure to elevate your game. They are no longer just for bars, and they look great on display. Its shows you grasp the fundamental difference of making a proper martini – stirred, not shaken – and allows the home bartender to make multiple classics, including the old fashioned, Manhattan and Negroni, to name a few. My vessel of choice is this 550-ml Seamless Paddle Mixing Glass.”
Seamless Paddle Mixing Glass 550 ml, $39.95 (U.S.) at cocktailkingdom.com
A well-sealed muddler
Liam Bryant, bar manager at Acorn Restaurant in Vancouver
“It’s important to have a muddler to release flavours from tender herbs, fruits and vegetables into a drink. It’s also great for breaking down powdered sugar if you’re making a traditional old fashioned cocktail or Sazerac.*
“It makes your bar better by giving the bartender the ability to make a variety of classic drinks easily [mojitos, clover clubs,** mint juleps], and to easily play and experiment with new flavours.
“When selecting a muddler, you will want something with a flat, broad bottom that won’t tear apart the ingredients while you’re muddling them. You just want to gently release the oils. Muddle too hard and you’ll get an undesirable vegetal taste in your cocktail.
“My muddler is a Turnco Wood Goods muddler that’s been treated with beeswax. Ideally you want something that’s not going to take on the flavours of the ingredients you’re muddling.”
Walnut muddler, $32 (U.S.) at turncowoodgoods.com
*Named after a cognac company, this cocktail, born in New Orleans, is made with sugar, rye whisky, bitters, absinthe and a lemon peel.
**A cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white.
A Parisian shaker
Sabrina Mailhot, bartender at Bishop & Bagg in Montreal
“One of the techniques used for classic cocktails is dilution, and shaking is the most common [way to do it]. Its primary function is to cool off your ingredients efficiently. Although it’s very important not to overshake, in which case your drink can taste watered-down. An appropriate shake should take approximately 10 seconds. Once you feel your shaker getting cold, you’re ready to strain into your glass.
“Shaking also allows you to blend textures to get a homogeneous concoction. This is why the shaker is an important tool if you’re a cocktail fanatic.
“My personal favourite are stainless-steel tins. For the home, I recommend a beautiful cobbler* or Parisian shaker.** The only thing you have to look out for is the size of the strainer holes because you don’t want them too big to let chunks of mint go through.
“I get mine at Alambika, Montrealer bartenders’ and cocktail enthusiasts’ favourite toy store in Outremont.”
Parisian Shaker 600 ml Gold, $74.95 at alambika.ca
*A shaker that consists of a large metal tin, a metal lid with built-in strainer and a metal cap.
** Similar to a Boston shaker, except sleeker and more sophisticated thanks to two metal pieces (and gorgeous curves).
A weighty mixing spoon
Rebecca Davis, bartender at Bonterra Trattoria in Calgary and brand manager for Sovereign Canada, a spirits company.
“A mixing spoon is a tool that I use on a regular basis behind the bar for everything from stirring to cracking eggs, to muddling sugar cubes for old fashions. My favourite is the Uber spoon. It has great weight and I love the heavy muddling end of it. If you are stirring any drink, you absolutely need one. It has twisted metal that makes the act of stirring smooth and feels good in the finger tips.”
ProStirrer, $19.95 (U.S.) at uberbartools.com
A versatile peeler
Kaley Tallon, bartender at Hy’s Winnipeg
“A quality peeler is a bar tool everyone should have in their home bar. It is a key component for finishing touches and garnishing, both for taste and the aesthetic component.
“It is essential for all cocktails containing citrus ingredients, such as a classic whisky or bourbon sour or martini with a twist.
“It also plays a major role in making a quality peel that is ideal for heating and igniting the oils right before garnishing.”
Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler, $3.95 (U.S.) at cocktailkingdom.com
A nosing glass
Kaley Tallon, bartender at Hy’s Winnipeg
“My newest bar ‘must have’ is the Glencairn whisky nosing glass.* It is incredibly functional, as it lets you hold the glass by the stemmed base (avoiding heating the whisky with your fingers) and it allows the aromas to build. And it looks fabulous.”
Glencairn Whisky Glass, $10.95 at alambika.ca
*Developed by the Scottish company Glencairn Crystal Ltd., the curved glass was designed specifically for drinking whisky.
A citrus press
John Bunner, bar manager at Alo in Toronto
“Fresh citrus juice is the best. When you’re using this squeezer, you get lots of nice oil that comes from the skin. It adds a deep flavour without any bitter pithy notes. You can also put crushed ice in this elbow juicer and it’ll make a nice half-bowl [garnish to float in your drink].”
Citrus Juice Presser, $45 at thecraftybartender.com
The perfect tumbler
David Wolowidnyk, bar manager at CinCin in Vancouver
“There’s something special about holding a really nice glass in your hand. In times past, our dads and grandfathers had that special chair that they sat it. I don’t have my own chair, but I sure have my own glass.”
Cylindrical Tumbler Manhattan, $189 at atkinsonsofvancouver.com
A copper jigger
Lauren Mote, co-founder of Vancouver-based Bittered Sling Bitters and Diageo World Class Canada bartender of the year in 2015.
“A measuring device of any kind when working with alcohol, sugar and acid is really important, even for professional bartenders. Make sure to get one that has the proper measurements on it for a Canadian fluid ounce. It should have a half-ounce, three-quarter-ounce and one ounce [marked] on one side and then the opposite side would have a one and a half ounce and two-ounce measure.”
Mr. Slim Tall Copper Jigger, $56 (U.S.) at parchedpenguin.com
A classic coupe
Kristen Voisey, owner of BYOB Cocktail Emporium in Toronto
“Anything that goes in a rocks glass needs to be on the rocks. Anything that doesn’t require being on ice would be in a cocktail coupe. The glass matters a lot when it comes to cocktails. You would never drink wine in a mug. It just tastes gross. If you have a nice glass with a great cocktail, it just tastes better.”
Retro Coupe Glass, $12 at cocktailemporium.ca