Americans love all-in-one gizmos. You know, those things they advertise on local, late-night TV, that chop, slice, dice and make Julian fries. It's just how we're built, and the reason why we can't get enough of Swiss Army Knives.
The drinking world is no different. Contraptions that can do it all for you—open bottles, measure, squeeze, mix, chill, whatever—date from the time cocktails met the Industrial Revolution. Recently, I received an example of the latest prototype in this genre. It's called Bartule, and it combines in one package a corkscrew, a bottle-opener a jigger, a juicer, a coaster (which can also function as a salt rimmer, we are told) and an ice bucket. "The Bartule," relates a press release, "is the only bar accessory that provides consumers with an all-in-one party solution when throwing great social events." It also comes in six colors.
The Bartule is a nifty-enough looking piece of merchandise. I would recommend it more for wine-lovers than cocktail lovers, though. For wine, all you need is a corkscrew, coaster and ice bucket (if it's a wine to be chilled). To mix drinks, you need much more than a jigger and a juicer—notably, a cocktail shaker and bar spoon.
Nonetheless, I was rather pleased with the item. That is, until I visited a nearby flea market in Manhattan and happened upon this little beauty from the 1950s.
It's called a Drink-Dialer and it was made by a company called Apex. I haven't been able to find out much about the company but apparently they also produced a similar device called a Chip-Chop.
Like the Bartule, the Drink-Dialer has a corkscrew (which you pull out of the central handle, as seen above), a bottle-opener (on the same end) and a jigger which measure 1 1/2 ounces. The jigger is hefty enough that it can be used as an ice hammer—a very trendy utility in these ice-focused days.
The coolest feature by far is the "Drink-Dialer" itself. Turn the handle and the two windows in the handle open up to the name and recipe of nine different drinks. The recipes are quite classic and much to my liking, I was surprised to discover. The Manhattan called for Rye, for instance, and the Martini formulation is not too dry, as was the tendency in the 1950s.
Now, the Drink-Dialer does not have an ice bucket. But that's just the thing that makes me prefer the 1950s device. It is compact, as all-in-one gadgets ought to be. The Bartule is a foot tall and about eight inches wide. This is mainly because of the bucket, but the other parts of the product are also on the large size. Because of this, I've had a hard time finding counter or cupboard space for it in my one-bedroom apartment. The Drink-Dialer I can slip in my pocket, if needs be.
I would still recommend the Bartule as a gift. It could "pull double-duty as a sculptural icebreaker at parties, backyard BBQ’s and first-date picnics," as the release boasts. Just make sure the recipient has a big house.