Once I became actively interested in making cocktails myself, I started attending courses and buying equipment to prepare drinks at home. My friends were keen to be my tasting panel and suggested I prepare cocktails at dinners they would host. I soon realised that transporting my shakers, jiggers, bar spoons and, especially, bottles in regular shopping bags was not very convenient. Things might hit each other and break.
While reading articles on trade websites I found several articles promoting a bartender bag developed by a Seattle bartender. After reading various reviews about Mavenhal (at the time still called Barkeeper & co.), a “small, local, hand-crafted, Made in America brand”, and watching the supporting video I ended up ordering one of their bags. At the time the company was only a few months old and was using a Kickstarter campaign to gather funds.
As I already had most of the tools necessary to make cocktails, I settled on buying a bag without equipment but know that it’s possible to buy a fully stocked bag. It will come with the three usual types of strainers (conical, Hawthorn and Julep), a barspoon, a muddler, a mixing beaker, two shakers, a Mexican elbow (citrus press), a jigger, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, a utility knife, a bar board, a microplane grater, a bar whisk, a Y-peeler and, finally, an ice scoop. I did say “fully stocked”, didn’t I?
I was really excited when I received my bartender bag a couple of weeks later. I immediately started building the flexible and removable insert. This ingenious system allows to build up to 8 compartments of the size of your choice to securely store your bottles, shakers, mixing glasses and keep them from breaking. You can also use the space to store the citrus or fruits you’ll use in your drinks. Then I started putting my gear in the pockets provided in the exterior face of the bag’s fold down pocket. Bar spoons, muddlers and bar whisks can be secured in the stitched bar tack panel. There is also a space in the interior face of the fold down pocket where to put your cutting board or a Ziploc full of pour spouts. I put my bartending school textbooks there.
So now, what do I actually think of the bag? While I honestly think it’s cleverly designed (if you remove the main pouch’s insert you can use the bag as a weekend bag) and sturdy (it’s made of strong, water resistant waxed canvas) I wish it were equipped with wheels or that it was a backpack. Once it’s filled with bottles it gets quite heavy and carrying it over either of my shoulders gets uncomfortable real soon. I guess if I had a car I wouldn’t mind but, as I use public transportation, wheels to push the bag around or straps to evenly distribute the weight on both shoulders would be nice. The people at Mavenhal must have thought the same as they’ve recently launched the Bar Back, a backpack with six adjustable slots, that can easily transform into a handbag, a satchel or even a messenger bar, with additional room to pack some clothes and a padded back pocket to accommodate a laptop. One thing that can truly be said about Marvenhal is that they really think multipurpose.