Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column.
There are some really cool stocking stuffers for aspiring bartenders. Then there are some things that you would think are awesome, but are no better than a lump of coal. This week, here are three things you should think twice about giving.
The Bar10Der The Bar10Der is a ten-in-one (see what they did there?) Swiss Army Knife-like bar gizmo that, according to their website, "turns you into a master mixologist in minutes" for only $50. This one item has on it (deep breath) a jigger, muddler, juice reamer, barspoon, strainer, channel knife, zester, knife, corkscrew, and bottle opener. Most of the tools are useless because they are either too small (the stirrer), unbalanced because they're strapped to a big gizmo (the knife), or both (the strainer). The only parts I'd actually use are the jigger and the bottle opener. Fifty bucks for that? Oh hell no. This is as likely to make you a master mixologist as a Swiss Army Knife is going to make you a military mastermind.
Crystal Head Vodka Crystal Head is vodka bottled in a glass skull, inspired by a New Age story about a bunch of carved quartz skulls that were supposed to come from Mesoamerica millennia before Columbus arrived, but were more likely made in 19th century Europe. It's filtered three times through even more quartz New Age woo-woo. Simply put, it's mediocre vodka that commands a premium price because creator Dan Aykroyd gave it a good story. If your friends love Aykroyd or skulls, I guarantee they already bought a bottle and haven't touched it.
Cobbler Shaker If you mention "cocktail shaker" to most people, the first image in their minds is the three-piece cobbler shaker. There are some very fancy (and very expensive) ones out there. Take it from me, almost every single one of these shakers sucks like you wouldn't believe. The cheap ones leak everywhere. The little holes that strain the drink get clogged with ice almost instantly. As a final annoyance, the metal contracts as you shake. When you're done shaking, the shaker won't open until it returns to room temperature. While many of these are eye-catching, they're best kept as knickknacks.