February 27, 2021

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Watch Well Equipped | 5 Bartending Gadgets Improved by Design Expert | Epicurious Video | CNE | Epicurious.com

14 min read

Hey pudding head.

I’m Dan and I’ve been designing

kitchen gadgets for 40 years.

I’m gonna test some barware gadgets

and see if I can find a way to make them better.

Not a great tracing, but you get the idea.

Some wings on here make this base so much wider.

These are the products I’m going to test.

The craft house Boston shaker.

The rec tech cocktail strainer.

The badass muddler.

The rabbit retro manual ice crusher.

The ISI soda siphon.

[lively string music]

Craft house Boston shaker.

The rec tech cocktail strainer.

We have a martini glass, vermouth, vodka, ice and olives.

Guess what, it’s martini time.

We’re ready, we’ve got some vodka

and I’m gonna go with the two to one version.

Ice and time to shake it up.

[light music]

If you’ve never done this, it’s very loud.

Okay, cup out, strainer in and let’s pour.

Shakers, no problem, it’s pretty classic,

two cups there’s not a lot of complaints about that

but this square strainer seem to want to

dribble a little bit to the side.

In either case, two olives and see what we have.

Oh yeah that’s much better than stirred.

I’m gonna try now to compare that to an all in one shaker.

And what that means is it’s got

the strainer built in the cap.

No need to hold it with two hands.

[light music]

I gotta tell ya, you should wear gloves when doing this.

In terms of effectiveness on a five point scale,

I would give it the shaker a five.

The strainer, I would give a one,

even though it is maybe a nice color.

I really don’t think it has any advantage

over the more traditional round strainer.

So now, it’s time for the left-handed oil test

by making my non-dominant hand slippery.

It’s gonna highlight areas for improvement.

No problem there, even though this is cone shape

I’ve got those ridges to pull up against so that helps.

Two of those.

Do you expect me to talk?

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

Okay, let’s go.

Now, this is really a two hand operation

but I’m just gonna switch hands

to see if I notice any difference.

[light music]

Okay, sounds like it’s done.

Oh man, my cup is a little stuck.

[Man] Don’t switch hands!

Don’t switch hands, right.

Oh, my cup doesn’t want to release.

I’d probably use both hands to do this.

I’m going to try to strain it with my left hand

and this is gonna be a little more clumsy,

I think but I can handle it,

if you tilt this a little bit

you notice it’s dripping from the side.

Now, problem with that is it may actually drip away from,

off of the glass and onto the table

and you don’t want to lose any vermouth or vodka.

So not as thrilled with the strainer.

Okay, with the shaker.

Whoa, who designed this?

In terms of usability, I am still good with the shaker.

It is what it is.

These ridges help.

I would give this a five because it’s pretty classic design.

Usability for the strainer, I would give this a one.

So not sure what the thought is behind making this square,

but I’m not sure it was a great thought.

Always surprises me how it holds the liquid inside

when you shake it, you would think it would want to drip.

Let’s talk about a redesign for the shaker itself,

again, boy, this is so simplistic and so classic.

I don’t think I would do too much to this.

And you know, the whole shake action

looks like you know what you’re doing

whether you do or not.

For the strainer, funny little mystery to me

as to the purpose of the spring, as opposed to something

that would seal a little better around here.

That being said, I don’t think this needs to be square.

And boy, if I start redesigning this it may go back

to just the classic round version of this,

I think rounding this so that you don’t get drips.

If we had a simple round one,

boy I don’t love the way this fits onto the shaker.

So I think I would take a a little more aggressive

approach in some wings on here that would help center it,

probably with a curve so it fits different size shakers.

In terms of a buy rating,

I would give this shaker a five out of five.

I think it works well.

I think it’s pretty classic.

In terms of the strainer, I would give this one a one.

I think it’s a missed opportunity.

You definitely want your martini shaken, not stirred.

And you can go home tonight and prove that to yourself.

The badass muddler.

Think billy club, its purpose is to muddle.

We’re gonna try that out by making a mohito.

Hey, I suddenly feel underdressed.

Probably my first thought is this has some weight to it

and be careful not to break the glass.

Let’s see how that goes.

Three pieces of lime, add some sugar.

Whoa, that may be too much, but it’s okay.

She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me.

Let’s add some rum.

Whoa, it’s going to be a good mohito.

Okay, let’s start muddling.

[light music]

I feel a little bit better now that the lime is cushioning

the impact of the muddler.

[light music]

With great power comes great responsibility.

Okay, I’m splashing a little bit.

I may be over muddling this, but I think we’re okay.

I am going to add some ice.

Did I do that backwards?

[Man] Yeah, you wanna pour it in

then put the ice on top.

Let’s try it this way.

I’m gonna put some muddled stuff at the bottom.

I’m gonna add some ice, some seltzer,

mix it lightly and give it a shot.

Oh yeah, that’s great.

That was some excellent muddling I did there.

The badass muddler, not the big ass muddler

but the badass muddler did a pretty good job.

I thought that was good.

It’s got two sides to it

and I’m wondering if I really wanna

get into the corners of the glass

if I should use this flattened side

because it’s got, you know, almost no radius here

whereas this is going to miss

the very corner edges of the glass,

but I guess that’s up to you and up to the glass.

Okay, let’s see how the badass mother compares

to a pretty standard wooden muddler.

[light music]

In terms of effectiveness.

I would rate it a five because boy,

on the downstroke it really does take care of itself.

It’s got enough weight to give enough momentum.

If I had this around,

I would just be a little bit careful about it.

Make sure no one makes you angry.

Let’s try the badass muddler again

this time with a slippery left-hand.

So, oil up and let’s go again.

I’m gonna put in a couple of slices of lime, mint leaves.

Bartender, it needs more mint!

It’s five o’clock somewhere.

Badass muddler has some texture on it

but I feel a little less stable with it

because it is simply a straight cylinder

and I do need to put some squeeze power into it

to control it, I believe with a slippery

and or weaker hands is you would lose the grip a little bit

and you’d want to reposition it.

So that would be an opportunity for some improvement

and I don’t think it would take much to rectify that.

And these are pretty well crushed.

It’s mohito time.

Left-handed or right-handed,

they’re still pretty well pummeled.

On your usability scale, I would give it a four.

It’s not terrible in either hand,

but boy it’s really too bad that they didn’t consider

slippery hands or weaker hands in using it.

I think a little bit of shape in here

would have given it some advantage.

Let’s look at a redesign.

Boy, this tracing is going to be really easy

since it’s nothing but a cylinder.

Let’s give it just a little bit of a shape.

Doesn’t need a lot.

Probably like just a little bit

to give this thing some curve.

And I think we’re good to go.

It doesn’t, I even think I draw it too big.

I think it could be extremely subtle.

There are other ways to do it,

add more texture or put some horizontal stripes into it.

But I would think just the really subtle shape change

would just orient your hand

and keep your hand a little more secure.

Boy, that’s really all I would change on this.

In terms of a buy rating,

I would give this a five,

even though I think it has some room for improvement.

I think it is a pretty good muddler,

just watch out for your glassware.

I would give this badass muddler

to anyone I know who’s growing mint in the backyard

and the mint is out of control.

Just muddle your heart out.

The rabbit retro manual ice crusher.

And its purpose is to crush ice.

So the way this works is it has some teeth.

It’s got a bucket to hold the ice.

I am going to put in just a couple of pieces of ice here.

Let’s just see how two chunks of ice are gonna work.

And I’m going to start to crush.

This is designed to make finer ice in one direction

and more coarse chunks of ice in the other direction.

I feel like I really have to steady it with my other hand.

And the reason there is this tapers down

to a smaller footprint on the table.

So it is more susceptible to tipping.

So boy, not totally in love with it.

Ice into the ice crusher.

[light music]

Now this needs to come off and

bit of a struggle there.

Does not easily want to pop off

and that may be an understatement.

Okay so I gotta give it a pretty good push on a corner

to get this to come off.

Whoa, that was too bad.

Also, it doesn’t pour that easily.

Little disappointed though, I expected better.

Let’s see now how the rabbit retro manual ice crusher

compares to badass muddler.

Got ice and a towel and ready to start!

[light music]

That was so much more fun.

So if you have a badass muddler or a hammer or a big stick,

you may want to try that before splurging for

the rabbit retro manual ice crusher.

In terms of effectiveness,

I would give it a two and that’s being nice to it

and the worst thing you can do with a product

is to make it look great and then when someone gets it home

to really disappoint them.

Time to oil up.

And I’ve got to say right off the bat that

the shape is not very conducive.

There’s a little bit of a lip here

so I can get my finger onto it to lift this up.

I’m gonna put in the ice.

[light music]

Definitely a bit more struggle than you would think.

I still have a large chunk of ice in here.

Let me try it a few more times.

[light music]

I think that ice cube is dancing around

in there laughing at me.

Let’s try now to open this

and you know, this shape doesn’t allow

this to come off at all.

And boy, this part just is no fun, it just wants to slip.

So I’m going to try some brute force

and let’s see if I can get my fingernails,

I’m using both hands to open this,

which seems unnecessary since there’s no reason

for this to be on here, locked on you so tight,

or snapped on so tight and let’s see what we got.

Whoa, it certainly doesn’t pour out well.

It is crushed, but I don’t feel like

I had control of the size of the chips.

In terms of usability, I would give it a one.

I had very high hopes that, wow, this is cool.

I’m gonna have a manual ice crusher

and life is gonna be beautiful.

Boy, it didn’t fulfill on that promise.

Let’s talk about a redesign.

I think there are a lot of things

that I would do differently on this.

I think one of the things I would do

is rethink the base.

I would make this base so much wider and more stable

and I think it’s got some small

rubber pads here, that’s okay.

But I think the rubber pads

can be a little more substantial.

In doing that, I think it’s gonna be

a lot less likely to wobble.

The crank itself, I think I would reshape this

and give it a little more of a curve.

So this is what we have now.

I would give it a little more of a curve in here.

Again, that would be a little more stable in the hands

as you fingers wrap around it.

This top part, boy it’s so difficult to pull

it off of the base, so between putting something here

that I could pull against,

I would do something at least to catch your hand

as you’re trying to get this top off.

It doesn’t have to be in this direction,

It could be in this direction so it doesn’t interfere

with the handle, with the crank.

Boy, one more thing I think I would do

is make this thing pour out more easily.

Draw this from a top view.

If I do that, there’s no reason why this couldn’t

have a very large controllable pour spout.

As a buy rating, I would give it a one.

I don’t think anyone’s going to be that happy with it.

The banging of the badass muddler

was so much more satisfying.

It wasn’t fighting me.

This seems to fight against you.

The ISI soda siphon!

Its purpose in life is to magically convert

ordinary water into seltzer.

Let’s see how it works!

First off with the top

and this gasket and tube comes out

and we’ll fill it with water.

This metal mesh looks pretty classic.

Okay, I’m going to reassemble, top back on,

screw it tight so the gasket works.

I am going to place the cartridge into the cartridge holder.

Everyone stand back, goggles on.

Let’s see what happens here.

Whoa, and we’ve been seltzerized!

Boy, really funny how the level of water

seems to have dropped.

At this point, I believe I can remove the cartridge

because it’s been spent.

Cap back on, might as well squeeze some lime in here

so I have something to seltzer into, kay?

Back!

[light music]

My aims a little off, but it seems to work.

I don’t feel like it carbonated the water

as much as an ordinary bottle of seltzer.

It seems a lot more bubbly than this does.

This does have its aesthetic appeal

and it’s got the fun aspects.

It’s got the Moe, Larry and Curly vibe to it.

I don’t know if using two cartridges would make a difference

but I think that would be excessive to expect that.

Let’s see how that compares to its competition.

A bottle of mineral water.

[light music]

In terms of effectiveness,

I think I would rate it a two.

I would have expected a lot more carbonation.

Time to oil up

and I will unscrew that.

That’s no problem,

’cause there’s so many things here to push against

and the gasket will simply lift out so that’s not a problem.

I am going to pour left-handed

and boy look how accurate I am, it’s okay.

[light music]

I spilled a little bit!

Let’s reassemble, so gasket back on, screw the top back on.

I’m going to undo this and this is a little difficult.

So I’ve got a very shiny silver thing

and it means I need to squeeze more to get this off.

That could possibly be an opportunity,

put some sort of shape or knurling on this

so that it would be a little bit easier to open up.

See if I can get some friction on here.

Okay, that worked, insert.

Okay, that was fun.

I can now remove the cartridge.

I’m gonna put this back on.

It doesn’t really need to be tight though.

So even though I can’t tighten it,

I don’t think there’s gonna be a problem.

I’m gonna put some lime into the pitcher

and with my left hand, give it a shot.

Now look what’s happening here.

I’ve gotta use my thumb if I’m gonna shoot this way

because this is really a right-handed kind of thing

if I’m gonna use my fingers.

That being said, I’m gonna try this

by squeezing with my thumb.

[light music]

Boy, there’s something satisfying about shooting the seltzer

and let’s try that!

It’s hard to rate this ’cause it’s such a classic design.

In terms of usability though

I would give it a solid three and a half.

It looks like I’m like in a 1930’s movie

and I feel that way.

Okay, let’s look at a redesign.

But this is such a classic old design,

hate to redesign it and ruin that old world appeal.

I would possibly put some knurling on this silver cap.

And what that means is on this cap,

not a great tracing but you get the idea.

I would just add a little bit of shape or a knurling

or something pretty subtle, just so that when you try

to twist it and you get a little purchase on it

without squeezing so hard, very minor detail on this.

In terms of a buy rating,

I would give it a one and it’s not because it’s not usable.

It’s not about the physical design,

but the cartridge did not carbonate the water.

I don’t think anyone is gonna be that happy with it

especially when a cartridge cost as much or more

than a bottle of seltzer.

The products that we looked at today,

three out of five were pretty disappointing.

So two recommendations, and this is probably a no brainer.

It’s just a very simple shaker.

And the other one is, badass muddler, truly badass.

We’ve got winners, we’ve got losers.

Some of these I think were created

or designed while drinking, just a little bit left.

Whoa, good to go!

[light music]

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