Review: Chisholm Trail/Stölzle Lausitz Jarritos Tequila and Mezcal Glassware

Does glassware make a difference? Whether wine or spirits, you bet it does. And that’s probably why Romeo Hristov has turned his attention to glassware for tequila and mezcal, where aroma plays a key role in a high-end tasting.

Hristov explains:

Since late 2016 Stölzle Lausitz GmbH (a German glass manufacturer that makes, among other items, the Glencairn whisky glasses) and I started the development and testing of new glasses for tequila and mezcal inspired by the drinking jars [jarritos] for pulque and mezcal. The use of this particular drinking vessel for alcoholic beverages from agave (most likely fermented, not distilled) goes back to the fourth century BC, but its shape is remarkably similar to the modern stemless tulip snifters, and offers an interesting blend from tradition and functionality.

These glasses are currently available as high-end hand-blown crystal glasses, but this year Hristov is aiming to bring out a more affordable machine-blown version. He sent a pair of glasses, one for tequila, one for mezcal, for us to check out. I’ve been experimenting with them with a variety of spirits, but primarily am analyzing them in their intended purpose, comparing performance to a standard Glencairn.

Some thoughts follow.

Chisholm Trail/Stölzle Lausitz Jarritos Tequila Glass (narrow mouth) – In tasting the tequila-intended jarrito, I found that a Glencairn focused the aromas more clearly at the top of the glass, though with very high-proof spirits, this can be a negative, as the jarrito allows more alcohol to evaporate more quickly. The glass is more effective with anejo tequilas than blancos (and it works very well with whiskey), as the spicier and sweeter elements of the spirit coalesce more clearly in its broader bowl. In actual use, the jarrito was also more successful at delivering tequila to the right part of the palate, though, and the overall shape of the glass is quite pleasing in the hand. A-

Chisholm Trail/Stölzle Lausitz Jarritos Mezcal Glass (wide mouth) – With mezcal, the wider jarrito first delivers a ton of smoke to the nose, but that blows off quickly, translating to a sweet and expressive palate. I definitely enjoyed drinking mezcal — which is traditionally served in a wide dish of sorts called a copita — more from the jarrito than a Glencairn, as it was more effective at opening up the spirit, allowing it to showcase more of its underlying charms. As with the above, the glass fits very well in the hand, working almost like a tumbler at times. A

prices TBD / chisholmtrailcraftsglasses.com

Review: Coravin Aerator

The Coravin system is one of the biggest advances in wine dispensing, solving the problem of how to drink a glass or two of wine from a pricy bottle without having the rest of it spoil. But what if it’s a wine that needs aeration? Dealing with the Coravin is a two-handed process, so you could pour it into a decanter (which seems silly for a single glass), or get a friend to help you with a handheld aerator. Of course, if you had a friend handy, maybe you would just open that bottle of wine instead of using the Coravin…

Anyway, Coravin solves this problem in the form of a new attachment, the Coravin Aerator, a small gizmo that attaches directly to the dispensing nozzle of the Coravin itself. A rubber seal keeps things airtight as you dispense directly from the Coravin. As the wine passes through the aerator, it jets out in a spray not dissimilar to a typical shower.

Results in my testing were excellent. Wine was effectively aerated, rendering a tight cabernet instantly drinkable, and the spray was easy to control, jetting straight into my glass without a spill. And critically, the device did not drip after use.

The downside: At $70, the Coravin Aerator is wildly overpriced, considering its simplicity and the fact that it has no moving parts at all (there’s no adjusting the flow or anything along those lines). I’d heartily recommend it to any Coravin fan… if the price came in at around 20 bucks.

B / $70 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

Review: Root7 Geo Glasses

My daughter recently asked me, “How do you review a glass?”

Pretty simple, I said: How does it look, and how easy is it to drink out of.

Root7’s new Geo Glasses tumblers merit a discussion on both fronts. Hexagonal in shape, the glasses feature gold accents (or jet black (pictured), as you prefer) on all the edges, which give them a decidedly ’70s vibe. Is this good or bad? My wife says they’re ugly, but I find the retro look strangely appealing in a shabby chic sort of way, much in the same vein as I feel about actress Amy Adams.

Drinking from any glass with angles on the rim is always tricky, but the hexagon is a simpler proposition than glasses with squared-off rims. To avoid dribbling, you need to drink from a corner, which is mildly uncomfortable but not significantly so.

The glasses themselves are sturdy, not too bottom-heavy, and feature a rounded lip that is clean enough to keep any drips from developing. They aren’t at risk of becoming my daily glassware, but they’re interesting enough to merit keeping on hand for ’70s night.

B+ / $43 per two-pack / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

Review: Waerator Instant Wine Aerator

If the Waerator looks at all familiar, it’s because it is almost exactly the same device as another wine aerator we reviewed a year ago. Check out our Aervana review and you’ll get the gist: Aside from some color differences and a slight change in design, the only major twist with the Waerator is that it only requires 4 AAA batteries (not included) instead of 6.

As with Aervana, the Waerator is a pump that sucks wine up through a tube you submerge directly into the bottle. A spout dispenses the wine into the glass when you press a button on top of the device. Functionally, the device is nearly identical. It works just as well, and requires the same amount of cleanup. That cleanup is significant compared to other pour-through aerators, but some users may prefer the solution here.

At $60, the Waerator is significantly cheaper than the $100 Aervana, and that’s a good thing, because $100 is simply too much for what this device does: Slowly pump wine up through the tube extending into bottle and depositing it into your glass. It works well enough — though, again, it is slow and noisy and not a terribly elegant way to enjoy your vino. That said, as with many aerators, when you place a aerated sample side by side against a sample poured straight from the bottle, the aerated wine is definitely an improvement most of the time.

Is that worth 60 bucks, or does a less expensive aeration gadget make better sense? You be the judge.

B / $60 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

Review: Coravin Screw Cap

One of the (decidedly minor) challenges of the Coravin wine preservation system is that it doesn’t work with screw-capped wines. Because the system involves a thin needle piercing the cork, allowing the cork to re-seal after it’s withdrawn, it just isn’t possible to use it on a metal screwcap.

Now, says Coravin, the problem is solved.

Coravin Screw Caps, which are available in two sizes to ensure a proper fit on any bottle, combine self-sealing silicone with the same premium cap liner, to create a tight seal that protects wine for up to 3 months. To use, simply unscrew a bottle’s cap and quickly replace it with a Coravin Cap. Then, access and pour as you normally would with any Coravin Preservation Opener (like all Coravin accessories, the Screw Cap is compatible with all Coravin models). Store the remaining wine and once the bottle is empty, remove the Screw Cap and reuse – it withstands 50 punctures!

The Screw Caps come in two different sizes, and they’ll be arriving on the market later this year.

I tried them out and quickly found that my biggest issue was finding a screw-capped wine that I would bother using with the Coravin. Sure, there are luxe screwcap bottlings, but these are rare. Most screw-capped wines today are cheap bottlings that I’m not interested in preserving for three months. Few last more than a night around these parts.

Using the system really couldn’t be simpler. Remove the original screwcap and replace it with the Coravin model. Then drive the needle through. It even pierces the silicone more easily than cork.

Results: I used the system on a bottle of sauvignon blanc and found that after a week, the wine remaining in the preserved bottle was just as fresh as when I’d originally poured it. In other words: It works just as well as the original Coravin. That said, I can’t imagine using the screwcaps very often, but should the need arise, it’ll be handy to have a couple around.

A- / $30 for a six-pack / coravin.com  [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

Review: The Spice Lab Special Touch Premium Mixology Case

Nothing’s more fun than ordering a high-end cocktail at a bar and receiving it with a wacky ingredient or garnish — maybe a flaming star anise or an edible flower, slowly leeching its color into your drink.

Well good news, campers: Now you can recreate some of these experiences at home, thanks to The Spice Lab’s “Special Touch” Premium Mixology Case.

It’s a very simple idea: This attache-style case contains a dozen rare or high-end garnishes, each provided whole and packaged in its own individual plastic case. The dozen includes the following: cardamom seeds, giant coffee beans, cocoa seed, allspice (whole), star anise, dried kumquat, juniper berries (whole), mini cinnamon cassia sticks, whole mace, and three dried (whole) flowers: hibiscus, Persian rose, and mallow blossom.

The case includes a deck of cards, one giving some basic usage ideas for each ingredient. The top lid includes five barware pieces: a jigger, bar spoon, tongs, peeler, and a cylindrical grater for dried spices.

What can you do with all of these? The Spanish-designed kit is designed for use with vermouth, rum, and gin, and just about all of these garnishes pair well with gin concoctions, particularly the Spanish staple of gin and tonic. Pick any of the flowers and drop one in your glass to open up new aromatics and give your drink a breathtaking color. Other ingredients, like kumquat and mace, present more of a challenge. And of course, items like star anise, cocoa bean, and cinnamon are all very versatile, well being the world of gin and tonic. From top to bottom, all the ingredients are extremely high end — but remember, dried spices and flowers will lose flavor and potency over time, so don’t be afraid to use them liberally.

At $200, this is an awfully luxe kit, but if you don’t need the full collection, Special Touch offers some simpler kits that are more targeted (and which cost quite a bit less), and individual botanicals can be purchased as well. My only complaint: The case itself is a bit flimsy, though it’s decked out in leather and metal trim.

That aside, I know I’m having fun with this kit. Order a drink at my house these days and who knows what kind of garnish you’ll get!

A- / $200 / thespicelab.com

Neat Idea: These Shorts Can Open Bottles

Here’s a problem: You’re on the beach and someone throws you a beer. The nearest opener (and even your keychain) is hundreds of yards away. Now what?

If you’re wearing Island Daze’s BBO shorts, the problem is solved. In a minor stroke of genius, the company has sewn an opener directly into the pocket flap. Just lift it up, pop the top, and you’re good to go.

Five designs plus a cargo short product are available, each in multiple colors and in waist sizes from 30 to 38. The shorts themselves ($48 per pair) are breezy and comfortable, but are undoubtedly more so once you have that beer open.

bboshorts.com 

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