It is possible to make simple simpler? Or easier? Or better? These were the queries that enticed me to find the answers to the above. I’ve owned a multitude of cocktail shakers over the years, metal, plastic, glass, small, and large. I have a lot of friends who also own a wide variety of cocktail shakers as well. An item so simple—I was eager to see how it could be improved upon. It was advertised as the “best cocktail shaker since Prohibition” and I awaited my opportunity to give this revolutionary device a, well, shakedown cruise. The cocktail shaker, like the hammer, is one of the simplest devices known to man. Like the hammer, it is almost as indispensable. Still, I wondered, are we just re-inventing the wheel? Upon its arrival I discovered that if indeed this was the re-invented wheel. it was the mags & white walls version.
If nothing else, it is a handsome piece of merchandise. It consists of a tall container made of brushed stainless steel topped by a slotted clear plastic top. The strainer portion itself is bifurcated into halves, one of which has larger straining holes than the opposite half. The strainer part is inserted into the top and twisted into locked position. The top follows, snapping into slotted grooves. This proved to be somewhat problematic and the most distinct drawback to the shaker.
Largely because there is a learning curve that comes with the twisting the pieces into place, it begs the user to have complete faith that the strainer won’t fall out splashing fresh cocktails all over the place. Although it does not come with instructions, the fact that there is an online tutorial demonstrating the use of the shaker argues against its simplicity. After all, as indispensable as the cocktail shaker may be, its greatest virtue—again akin to the hammer—is its simplicity.
Word of this incredible device spread rapidly and I was able to quickly assemble a coterie of cocktail connoisseurs, life masters of the shaken-not-stirred set, all of whom enjoyed the panoply of shaken-not-stirred cocktails ranging from the martini to the Manhattan to the margarita, to embark on this crucial assessment of the revolutionary cocktail shaker and provide a variety of opinions which could be distilled (yuk, yuk, yuk) down to a consensus. The verdict: a snappy, handsome item that would dress up one’s home bar but a little too cute by half.
I was expecting only the arrival of the amazing cocktail shaker in the mail. But its arrival was accompanied by another product called Savino (like Shaker 33, it is also dishwasher safe). The Savino is ostensibly a wine saver, designed to preserve opened but unused wine from the ravages of air that would spoil the wine if left exposed for an extended period of time. It is especially useful to people who can’t mow down an entire bottle of wine at one sitting. The slogan “Today’s wine tomorrow” can easily be extended to “Today’s wine next week.” There are many methods of preserving opened wine, and as many products available to accomplish the mission. I was taken by the cleverness and simplicity of the Savino. This, like the cocktail shaker, required field testing. Fortunately, this turned out to be an easy task since it arrived just prior to Thanksgiving. What better opportunity to put the Savino through its paces than Thanksgiving, that traditional bacchanalia of feasting and boozing? A whole bunch of people and oodles of wine. Would one Savino suffice?
The Savino advertises itself as a wine preserver, but I quickly discovered that there is no practical reason not to use it as a decanter as well. The device is a clear plastic cylinder with a flared plastic top. There is a top which is locked into place when saving the wine. There is also a small plastic float of the same diameter as the cylinder that is placed into it and floats atop the unused wine. The cap locks into place and the wine stays unexposed to air.
Allowing a newly opened bottle to breathe for a while allows the flavors to open up. Air is a friend to wine at first. An option is to pour the wine into a larger container which exposes the wine more quickly to a large volume of air. After allowing the wine to breathe, the float can be placed into the decanter. When wine is poured, the float tilts and allows the wine to flow with no problem. So the wine saver actually has more than one use and is essentially a decanter and wine saver all rolled into one simple unit. A very clever device indeed.
First there was Graham Kerr as the Galloping Gourmet. Now there is Mike Eady, the Bibulous Gourmand. Mike has been a decades-long contributing writer to California Wine and Food as well as a part-time fiction author. He is a constant cook-off competitor. Years of prodigious consumption of booze and chow combined with his ability to type and form opinions have helped to burnish his exhaustive resume within the food and beverage scene.