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Review: A Bar Above Stirred Craft Cocktail Kit

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Review: A Bar Above Stirred Craft Cocktail Kit

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Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

A Bar Above is a husband and wife duo who design bar tools. They’ve also hosted the A Bar Above podcast (formerly Mixology Talk and currently on hiatus), consult with bars and build online courses.

I tested out their Stirred Craft Cocktail Kit, which consists of a mixing glass, bar spoon, julep strainer, two-ounce/one-ounce bell jigger and six cocktail picks. It retails on their website and other online marketplaces for $50.99. All components besides the beaker are stainless steel (though they are offered in other finishes on the website). Everything comes tucked in a sturdy and reasonably attractive box. A brief pamphlet explains the function of all the pieces and shares the classic recipe for a Manhattan (though mystifyingly it recommends stirring the cocktail in both directions).

When making a cocktail that’s all spirits (and maybe a syrup), the goal is to introduce as little air as possible. This makes for (everybody now!) a silky mouthfeel once the liquid is chilled to near freezing. For my experiment, I made an improved rum old fashioned with Perpetua Salal Liqueur.

A Bar Above Stirred Craft Cocktail Kit review
We review A Bar Above Stirred Craft Cocktail Kit, which consists of a mixing glass, bar spoon, julep strainer, two-ounce/one-ounce bell jigger and six cocktail picks. (image via Cindy Capparelli/The Whiskey Wash)

The first thing I noticed was the glass didn’t have a level bottom. I tried using it on every table and counter in my home just to be sure, and it was definitely the glass. This was disappointing from the get-go and aggravating once I started stirring. A rocking bottom wouldn’t last through happy hour in an actual bar. I’ve used a lot of hand-blown beakers and glassware and only ever encountered this issue in ‘seconds.’

The strainer and the jigger had a nice weight. The non-standard measures on the large end of the jigger were a little busy, but deeply scored and easy to see. The welds on the jigger were messier than most I’ve seen. The other metal joins are OK. The bar spoon is a bit short and the edges of the twist are rough in the hand.

While a julep strainer mayhew more closely to tradition, I prefer a hawthorne strainer for the comfy way my hand can hold that tool flush with the top of my mixing glass, executing the one-handed pour seamlessly. I recognize this as personal preference. (But the funnest part about a julep strainer is imagining them in their original use: keeping julep trappings out of the mustaches of the gentry.) 

My favorite part of the kit was the picks. They are sharp and a lot of reusable picks are not. They seem hard wearing but do proceed with caution.

With the exception of the rocking glass, this kit sets a home bartender up well for stirring countless cocktails. There are better quality collections available, but at $50.99 you could do worse. They don’t trumpet made in the USA, making overseas production a good bet.

Cindy Capparelli

In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the gospel of high-quality ingredients and time-honored technique. I give my students the confidence and knowledge to stir up a drink at home, experiment with tinctures or just more fully enjoy their food and beverage experiences.

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