Drinks

Tools of the Trade: David Wondrich

The cocktail historian shows off his kit

"Here's a Hawthorne strainer, two kinds of julep strainers, a punch ladle, a muddler made out of ironwood that won't sink..."

We're inside the Brooklyn living room of drinks historian David Wondrich, author of the indispensible Imbibe! and Punch. He's walking us through his vast, museum-quality collection of mixology mementos and cocktail curios--a jigger from a 1950s Shiner's convention, a wooden ice hammer, a barbed swizzler from Trinidad and a gigantic silver cocktail shaker (which a TSA agent once mistakenly took for an urn of ashes).

Wondrich's collection of antique French silver shakers, strainers and jiggers
"I came to cocktails as a musician, so I've always loved working with my hands," says Wondrich. "You want your tools to be just right. They don't have to be the fanciest or the best. My shaker, for instance, just feels good in my hands--the same as my old Fender Jazz bass."

"Unlike a chef whose work is done in the back of the house, a bartender is in front of people," says Wondrich. "Sometimes it's nice to have attractive tools."

Fireman's Manhattan | Wondrich with his go-bag
We're impressed with his kit. Impressed and a little thirsty. Happily, Wondrich doesn't just collect this stuff. He knows how to use it. He put his gear to work making us a Fireman, a favorite variation on the classic Manhattan, involving a flaming orange peel and a stabilizing rinse of Scotch (see the recipe).

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