Stuff I’ve enjoyed this year…
PUG! Muddler — Your friend probably doesn’t need a muddler this big, but damn, it’s cool. Also good for beating down that unruly house guest who’s had a few too many mojitos.
Eva Solo brewer — Brews like a French press, but with style. This is what I use every day at my “desktop coffee shop” now that I’m in a think tank instead of working as a barista. The advantages over a traditional press are the modern design, insulating jacket, and drip-free pour spout. It’s questionable whether these marginal improvements are worth the hefty price tag, but it’s a great coffee maker.
The Joy of Mixology — The book I used to learn the basics of bartending and one I still constantly reference. A major virtue is that instead of just throwing together a list of random recipes (though there are plenty), author Gary Regan groups them into families so that, say, it’s easy to see how a margarita and a sidecar are variations on the same theme. This is a perfect resource for learning the essentials of mixing drinks.
Starbucked –The definitive history of the green giant. Author Taylor Clark pulls no punches lamenting Starbucks’ fall from serious coffee outfit to purveyor of sugary milk drinks while giving due praise to the company’s branding genius and credit for promoting American cafe culture. A fun, informative read in or out of a giant purple plush lounge chair.
Baratza Virtuoso grinder — Forget overpriced coffee makers that make a crappy brew from pods of pre-ground beans. Give a good burr grinder instead. There are others on the market, but this one has been working wonderfully for me.
The Art of the Bar — I came across the restaurant Absinthe by chance in San Francisco a few years ago and didn’t get a cocktail. Big mistake! This book, written by a couple of the restaurants’ bartenders, offers up lush photos, sound advice on crafting drinks, and intriguing recipes. Many of the drinks require obscure ingredients, but anyone who likes to explore will find this a fun book to delve into.
Counter Culture Coffee — Durham-based Counter Culture is taking over the East Coast with its wonderful single origin coffees. You can’t go wrong ordering from them, but this trio of differently processed microlots from Aida Batlle in El Salvador sounds particularly appealing.
Imbibe magazine subscription –The only magazine I read cover to cover as soon as a new issue comes in. Great cocktail recipes and informative articles related to beverages of all kinds.
Zyliss citrus zester — Having the right tools is everything. I had a channel knife and struggled to get a decent twist with it. After reading the review of this one in Imbibe, I ordered it as a replacement. What an improvement! Cutting long twists should be easy. With this knife, it is.
[Cross-posted at Smelling the Coffee.]