You can mix a cocktail in just about anything – a jug, a pint glass, a jam jar. But a cocktail always tastes that bit more delicious, I think, if it is made with beautiful tools. Mixing it should feel like a ceremony, a ritual, rather than just another job.
If you are, like me, a lover of Martinis, Negronis or Old Fashioneds – cocktails that should all be stirred, rather than shaken – then your life will be immeasurably improved by the acquisition of a good mixing glass. The mixing glass I use most often is an 800ml Yarai example I bought from Cocktail Kingdom. It’s satisfyingly weighty, capacious enough for three to four Martinis, and extremely elegant, with a cross-hatch design that runs round the base (£39.25, from cocktailkingdom.co.uk). I gave one to a friend for his birthday just the other day.
The Diamond collection from Richard Brendon – the design studio that co-created Jancis Robinson’s wine glasses – includes a very smart crystal mixing glass with matching Old Fashioned glasses. The mixing glass is taller and narrower than the Yarai, but for Martinis à deux it’s perfect. Mouth‑blown and hand-cut, the range is distinguished by an intricate – and razor-sharp – diamond pattern round the base of each glass (mixing glass, £160, from richardbrendon.com).
Trade favourite Urban Bar does a great range of mixing glasses, including some wonderfully curvaceous vintage Gallone designs from £23.74. The last time I saw a bartender use one of these was at The Bar at The Dorchester, when bar manager Giuliano Morandin mixed me a Bellini. I’m also tickled by the kitsch Tattoo mixing glass, which is decorated with retro tattoo imagery: playing cards, sailor girls, swallows and anchors (£18.70, from urbanbar.com).
For something with a bit of history, keep an eye on the Pullman Gallery in St James’s, an antiques dealer that specialises in barware from the 1920s and ’30s. Last time I looked it had an extraordinary art deco cocktail mixer in stock called the Skyscraper – a 25in-tall conical silver and glass affair with a plunger (£4,500, from pullmangallery.com). That would go a few rounds at a party.
If you are buying a mixing glass, you will need a long-handled bar spoon for stirring and a Hawthorn strainer to hold back the ice when you pour. Both Urban Bar and Cocktail Kingdom have a good selection, including some designs plated in silver, gold and copper. It’s not necessary to spend a huge amount on these extra bits, but do invest in your mixing glass – the pleasure it will give will repay the debt many times over.
Alice Lascelles is Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019. @alicelascelles.