Toys To Tools

The latest barware can be fun and useful

There are gadgets, and there are tools. Everyone could use more of the latter, especially to streamline inventory, empower staff and sell more drinks. The latest crop of bar tools are versatile, timeless investments instead of gimmicky toys. Some are total technology packages that upgrade a bar’s inventory; others are simple barware that capitalize on the year’s biggest trends. Before you buy another one-use gadget to clutter your workspace, consider these bar game-changers.


Partender

This smartphone and desktop system promises to save money by identifying wasted liquor, offering sales analytics and—every bar manager’s favorite—slashing inventory time. Create a virtual bar inventory through the app, then use a sliding bar to indicate the amount of liquor left in the bottle at the end of the night.

Is that bottle of gin hitting midway through the label? Partender can estimate its volume up to 99.2 percent accuracy. Inventory can be viewed remotely in real time with comparison sales tools to help identify slow and fast sellers. Pay a flat rate of $299 per month with a year of service, or $399 per month if you buy month-to-month. Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland, Oregon, with its collection of 940 bottles, says it has seen its inventory time reduced to 12 labor hours since using the app.


Cicerone Off-flavor Kits

Most operators know craft beer is serious business, but doing it right means much more than getting kegs through the door. It also requires ongoing investment in staff training to make purchasing and serving decisions. Cicerone, the national professional certification program, unveiled a new interactive kit and webinar to train six to 24 people on the most common “off” beer flavors such as diacetyl, acetaldehyde, skunky tastes, oxidization and infection. Half of these are the result of brewing mistakes, the remainder from handling. The kit contains flavor spikes for six common beer flaws, plus a tasting mat and an educational webinar led by program founder Ray Daniels. Kits start at $149.


iSi Rapid Infusion Accessories

iSi has been a back of the house tool for decades, and now bartenders are tapping into the potential of these sleek metal chargers best known for creating whipped cream and foam. The main appeal for bartenders: rapid-quick infusions. Bar staff can turn fresh herbs, fruit or other product into standout cocktail ingredients without waiting weeks to infuse liquor. Pair it with the free iSi smartphone app, which offers recipes, demos and a community function to share ideas. 


Japanese Ice Saws

Cocktail bars are stepping up the ice game, from 3-inch ice cubes and frozen miniature slopes to fruit and herbs suspended inside spheres. Rather than purchase individual molds, ice connoisseurs have turned to Japanese ice saws, prized for their durability and precision in creating custom shapes. Used in a low-volume environment, they create a bespoke cocktail show for customers—even if a bartender is just whipping up a standard old fashioned. When Las Vegas’ Yardbird opened inside the Venetian earlier this year, its ice saws drew almost as much press as the drinks. Bartenders suggest the three sizes of Japanese saws; prices start around  $89. 


COCKTAIL KINGDOM BEACHBUM BERRY TIKI COLLECTION

The tiki cocktail mega-trend shows no signs of slowing even with winter approaching. Barware company Cocktail Kingdom partnered with tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, owner of Latitude 29 in New Orleans, for a line of authentic barware without the kitsch. The line includes Pearl Diver glasses, a retro glass shaped like a fat, ribbed-stem coupe; a Navy Grog ice kit that creates conical ice shapes; a narrow-based swizzle cup that prevents ice from melting with enough room for proper swizzling; and a skull-shaped swizzle stick (a hefty dose of style is part of the charm). The line also offers barware with subtle touches that won’t clash with existing glassware. 


Swiped from the kitchen 

Sorry, chef, we’ll give it right back—maybe. Try these back of the house approaches for the bar.

French press: Serve cocktails and punches infused with herbs and fruit in an interactive way; large-format presses invite sharing. 

Agar agar: Heating agar agar (a vegetable-based gelatin alternative) in water and mixing it with juice before straining creates clear liquids that are more visually appealing than regular, cloudy fruit juices.

Immersion circulator: Herbs cooked in an immersion circulator (also called a sous vide machine) can later be frozen, releasing their full flavor when alcohol is poured over them. 

Pacojet machine: Create sorbet-consistency fruit- and vegetable-flavored ice from frozen ingredients with no need for thawing. 

Smoke Gun: Pour the alcohol of your choice into a decanter or glass filled with cool smoke to add depth to cold weather cocktails.

Kate Bernot is an associate editor at Draft Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @KBernot.