Writing last week’s post on some great spots to visit got me thinking…in the past I’ve shared other great tips and ideas such as travel essentials…but there’s one essential I forgot to mention.
You’re leaving the airport and grab a cab/take the metro/hire a car to reach your place of stay. Could be a hotel, home stay, or perhaps a small flat you’re renting out for the next few weeks. You get everything unpacked, then decide to take a walk around town, maybe wind down with some of the local spirits. You pick up a small bottle of local spirits you’ve never tried before and grab some mixers to go with it. Everything’s all fine and good, until you get back to your place. Then it hits you –
…you have no real way to create a proper drink. Depending on what kind of accommodation you picked, you may not even have the proper glassware to make yourself a decent drink. Not to mention, the place you traveled to may not exactly have ice you can trust to chill said drink.
….cue this For The Weekenders post. I’m going to share with you the travel bar essentials I take with me on every trip. They’re useful for if you want to feel like bringing a small part of your home bar with you – and they take up just about as much space as a pair of trousers does in your carry on. I’ll start with the “classic” items for this For The Weekenders, and in a follow-up posts share with you more “casual” travel bar essentials that are great for the beach or when you’re backpacking. Check out the photos below each item – they’re actual shots of my personal collection. Pretty soon I’ll be adding this entire kit as a regular item to the shop for sale. Look out for it…and enjoy.
1. The Travel Bar Set by Mundi Westport Group. – There’s travel bar sets, then there’s travel bar sets. While there are many sets out there that feature much more storage space, the key here is you want to keep things compact. Discreet. Simple. The Travel Bar Set by Mundi Westport Group helps you accomplish just that. It’s perfect for two (or one), and comes with a slender zippered carrying case, 3 storage pockets for your choice of travel size spirits, waiter’s corkscrew, 2 compact (collapsible) tumblers, one stirrer, and a pair of ice/olive tongs.
I like it because it’s discreet enough to pass through customs and none of the objects can be deemed “sharp” for when I’m traveling through more Western countries. The tumblers are great, they expand and retract with ease and are easy to clean, just be sure to dry them off, and you’ve gotta give a gentle but firm “tug and twist” when expanding them – once you do though your drink is good to go with no risk of spillage. The key is to not throw it around like melamine dishware – the same way you wouldn’t throw around your better lowball glasses.
2. What Good is a Travel Bar Set Without a Cocktail Shaker? – Is what one of my friends asked me a while back when I bought this. Getting a proper cocktail shaker is an easy fix – I’ve had a single serve one from Oggi for about 6 years now, meaning it is old as fuck and a little bruised and battered…but it still hasn’t let me down. 18/8 stainless steel with a kind of soft rubber grip exterior and a rubber seal on the inside of the top, it’s excellent for when you need that drink shaken, not stirred. The one in the link above doesn’t have the soft grip exterior, but if you can find it, I highly recommend it.
This thing has ZERO spillage, and in fact it seals so well it occasionally becomes a task getting both the top and strainer off…but if you’re looking to get an ICE COLD shaken drink without freezing your fingers off, try finding the one with the soft grip exterior.
3. Even With All That, You Can’t Forget the Ice. – Lastly, the solution to all your ice problems. You’ve got two choices here – stainless steel or soapstone? That’s right, I’m talking about whiskey rocks. When it comes to keeping your drinks cool, it really boils down to (pun intended) just how cold you want them. If you’re like me and prefer to actually taste your drink, go with soapstone whiskey cubes. If you like your drinks a bit cooler, go with stainless steel whiskey cubes.
Wait…whiskey what? Yeah, some people aren’t familiar with these bad boys…now’s the time to get acquainted. The process is simple – wash off your new set THOROUGHLY, taking care not to use any harsh soap (so it doesn’t get absorbed) and dry accordingly. Pop them in the freezer for a few hours (I keep mine in the freezer all the time), drop them into your glass (or retractable tumbler in this case, I recommend just 1 or 2 for the tumbler), and that’s it. Your drink can stay cool without the need of ice or the inconvenience of ice drowning it.
Word of advice: If you’re going to use these rocks in the cocktail shaker, make sure you ONLY use the stainless steel type.
I’d hate to see a good drink wasted on account of chipped soapstone.
Plus I’d feel pretty bad for the soapstone in general.