Repost: The Wingman Cocktail Spoon on The Robb Report

On November 20, 2015, the global luxury magazine Robb Report launched Robb Gear, the best place to find all the cool things the editors feature in the magazine.  Standard Spoon was one of the first selections for the new section, and the Wingman Cocktail Spoon received a great write-up.  Here it is reposted below; to read on Robb Gear, click here.

TOOLS: WINGMAN SPINNING COCKTAIL SPOON

What? Long overdue innovation for effortless, messless stirring

Why? As you stir a drink, the stem of the spoon spins inside a metal sleeve

A New Spin

If you occasionally eject an ice cube or three while stirring a Sazerac, the Wingman will save your ego and your drink. Inspired by the blossoming cocktail culture in their hometown of San Diego, designers Shawn Michael and Rachel Eva applied their artistry, craftsmanship, and insistence on enduring products to serve the community that serves them quality libations.

Proper cocktail stirring requires a coordinated hand and wrist motion that may befuddle newcomers, limit the pace of pros who aren’t ambidextrous, and even pain someone with an injury or arthritis. Standard Spoon’s Wingman takes care of all that in a delightful “why didn’t I think of that” fashion, spinning inside the handle rather than between your fingers. An absolute must for anyone who scoffs at James Bond’s gin-bruising demand for shaken, not stirred martinis (and has ever sloshed the Plymouth Dry out over the side while scoffing).

Tales of the Cocktail Launches New Website & Interviews Standard Spoon

Following close on the heels of this year's Tales of the Cocktail Conference in New Orleans, the founding organization re-launched its website as an online publication.  While the site has always been a great reference for cocktail industry events, education programs, and the list of annual Spirited Awards Winners, now it hosts a wealth of editorial features on everything from industry personalities to cocktail history to technique how-to's.

Product Features

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One of the feature sections focuses on products. If you made it to the Market at Tales this past year, you may recognize some of them, including the bar bag Jim Meehan collaborated on with Moore & Giles (leather to lust over), and Bull in China's beautiful handmade mixing glasses (we brought one home with us!).  The new Tales of the Cocktail site has very well written pieces about these products, as well as articles on small batch bitters companies, handmade bar knives, and, yours truly, Standard Spoon.

Rethinking Modern Barware with Standard Spoon

Sara Commet from Tales of the Cocktail asked some great questions when she interviewed us for the article, and it was fun to see what tidbits she drew out. From inspiration by airplanes and submarines, to a sneak mention of products in development, she covered a lot of ground in a short article (and Rachel's Mom even got a mention!).  Here's a bit of what she had to say about the spoons:

The first, the AERO Cocktail Spoon, is elegant and aerodynamic (hence the name), with a slim profile that makes it a cinch to slip into a glass of ice. The second is the spinning WINGMAN Cocktail Spoon. Spinning and swivel spoon designs were popular in the 1950s, but they haven’t seen much love since. A surprising fact, considering a spoon that essentially stirs a cocktail itself (no, really) decreases fatigue for bartenders and makes cocktail-crafting a whole lot more fun for dabblers and enthusiasts

She did an excellent job at capturing the essence of not only our tools, but of our brand and of us (yes, the real people behind the brand). Here's a link to the full article (go ahead, go for it!  There are pretty pictures too):

Article: Rethinking Modern Barware with Standard Spoon

So when you catch yourself browsing through your Facebook feed and watching inane videos of 3-year olds contemplating the impact of their diet of pickle chips and poutine on the plumbing, maybe pull yourself away for a few minutes and get to the new Tales of the Cocktail website.  We're finding it a great resource to read up on some beautiful new cocktail products, bar destinations, and in-depth articles on regional, national, and international happenings in the bar and spirits industries.

Good Work TOTC!

An Interview with Shawn and Rachel of Standard Spoon

A few months ago we were interviewed by Kelly Bardon Haddad for an article in Zooey Magazine. 

She spoke with several San Diego couples who own and operate businesses together, including Native Spirits (craft spirits retail - coming soon to North Park!), Cueva Bar (delish restaurant in University Heights), Honest Films (storytelling through film and photography), Mallow Mallow (gourment s'mores!) and Standard Spoon.

From how Standard Spoon was born, to the challenges of working with your spouse, to how Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars inspired us to keep going, there's bound to be something you don't know about us in here:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?

We began making craft barware as Standard Spoon in 2013,
but have been a creative team since 2007 making art and
well-crafted goods as Work of My Hands.


CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF STANDARD
SPOON?

One of our primary motives when we work creatively is
to make things well. We’re inspired by mid-century products
that last, and old tools that are passed down from generation
to generation, because they can be. We love craft cocktail
making for the same reasons. These bartenders make the
best drinks you’ll ever have, and are totally devoted to their
craft. They need tools that match the quality of their work,
and in today’s throw-away-culture, there aren't a lot of companies
making bar tools designed to last. So we are.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES AND BIGGEST REWARDS OF
WORKING WITH YOUR SPOUSE?

Shawn: The biggest challenge is that even in great relationships,
less can be more. We spend almost all of our time
together, which can make it hard for us to turn work “off”
when it’s time to relax or celebrate. Sometimes going to dinner
with one another can turn into a business meeting. At
other times, sharing a meal and dreaming together is what
we want to do.  We learned we benefit from having separate
agendas and tasks during the week, so when we see one another
it’s still like coming home from work. On the other side
of that coin, I get to spend tons of time with my biggest fan
and teammate. Rachel is my greatest supporter and is such
an encouragement. More access to one another is one of the
best thing I’ve ever experienced. Especially once Rachel quit
her job, it was wonderful to have all her mental space devoted
to our dreams. I no longer have to help her disconnect from
her work and switch to the things we are building together.

Rachel: One of our biggest challenges is to exit the “dreaming”
phase, where we get all caught up in generating creative
ideas and visions of what we’re going to do next, and get down
to the “task” phase, where we execute. We love dreaming up
things together, and sometimes we’ll have 4 or 5 really excit-
ing creative ideas before we finish the one we're supposed to
be working on. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves. We have
a coffee meeting at the beginning of each day to set goals
and re-focus on what is most important to accomplish that
week.  One of the major rewards is having a spouse that sup-
ports your vision 100%, because it’s their vision too. They
understand what’s going on, and can empathize with your
challenges and celebrate your successes, because they are the
same. Working isn’t a lonely business, and I don’t have to
try and make it on my own. I have a teammate who is also
a soulmate, and we are moving toward the dream together.

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HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO BALANCE WORK LIFE AND PERSONAL LIFE?

Still haven’t mastered that one yet. It’s a challenge to turn
off the computer, or not pick up a business call, because we
get excited about the things we’re doing, and want to keep
them moving forward all the time. This is especially true for
anyone who’s still in the start-up phase, because let’s be honest,
it takes a lot of work and effort and intention to start a
business. But even if you work 120 hours per week, there is
still going to be more work to do at the end of the day.

There’s always more work to do. You’ll never get it all done. When
we realized this, we became more disciplined about our work
boundaries, and set up a few rules:

1. When we start working at the beginning of the day, we set
a deadline for when we are going to stop that day, regardless
of how much we’ve gotten done.
2. We decide what the 2-4 most important things are that
need to be done that day and do those things first.  That way
if we run out of time, we at least got the most important tasks
done.
3. Take 1-2 full days off per week from ANY work activities.
We give ourselves a weekend.
4. Schedule free time off for personal projects, rest, friends, 
and family. This is specifically when there is no obligation to
spend time with each other. We do this to intentionally support
our individual interests (writing for Rachel, photogra-
phy for Shawn) as well as our joint vision.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS THEN?

Set deadlines. Finish things, and see how people respond
to them, otherwise your dreams will just be dreams, and will
have nothing to stand on. The more work you do, the better
your future work will be; it’s progressive. You can’t be the
best you’re going to be by nature, you need a body of work and
experience in that field. Embrace the discipline of hard work 
and finishing things.

ARE THERE ANY SMALL BUSINESSES THAT WERE AN INSPIRATION TO
YOU IN YOUR FIRST YEARS?

Bob Taylor (Taylor Guitars) was a huge encouragement to
us when we first decided to move beyond just being artists
and take our business seriously. His “rags to riches” story is
inspiring, because it’s real, relatable, and happened in our
city.  

He said to us once, "when you first start a business,
you're going to suck at it for a while, until you figure it out" (paraphrased)
which is encouraging when you're just starting.  We knew
we had a lot to learn, and knew we weren’t the best, and that can
be intimidating. It was comforting to hear that Bob Taylor
ate Top Ramen for years until the company figured out how
to sell guitars.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR STANDARD SPOON?

We’ll make more tools! For the most part, there’s been little
innovation in the last century with bar ware. It’s exciting for
us to design new products. That being said, we don’t want to
have 20 bar spoons. We’re interested in making the best versions
of the tools cocktail lovers use, and keeping it simple.

All these wonderful photos were taken by Jazmine Fitzwilliam from Let's Frolic Together.

Building a Home Bar

We're waiting for our first samples to be completed and mailed.  In the meantime, we've been spending time with bartenders and industry folk, and making cocktails at our home bar.

Shawn Michael built the bar in December; we thought it was time to have an intentional space for cocktail making. 

There's a lot to consider when you start thinking about building a home bar. Functional place to drink some cheap lite beer? You can do that in front of the TV (no offense). Are you really into drinking games and have a stash of red solo cups perpetually rotating in and out of your basement cupboards? Maybe a pool table and a ping pong ball is a better bet for you.  

Let's just say I wasn't very inspired when I searched "How to Build a Home Bar" and THIS VIDEO came up as the No. 1 search result:

We live in an old craftsman home built in 1902, and Shawn wanted the bar to look like it belonged - like it was built with the house, not some stuffy new add-on with a shiny teak veneered front.  While we didn't get away with building it for $75, we did use plenty of recycled materials (including pallet wood!)

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Of course we had to throw some of that Work of My Hands material aesthetic in there. And dim-able custom lighting on top and underneath.

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Most home bars are built with a kitchen mindset (think cabinets and countertops). But if you've ever actually looked at a bartender's well when they're making drinks, they don't have an excess of vacuous space in front of them for slicing lemons and banging ice in a lewis bag. They've got a recessed, open well filled with all their bottled ingredients - liquors, liqueurs, juices - with the necks of the bottles at about the height your hand would naturally rest at while standing. 

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It's proved to be an essential space for testing our spoons, making great cocktails, and entertaining.

Cheers!

How the Old Fashioned made Craft Cocktails New Fashioned

Shawn Michael and I weren't always aware of the art of the cocktail.  It began several years ago with our friend Patrick and a couple of Old Fashioned cocktails at a studio apartment in North Park.  The Old Fashioned is a classic recipe responsible for many a transition from bleary nights of margarita mix and Jack & Cokes to sophisticated soirees featuring Negronis and Manhattans.

Craft & Commerce, photo courtesy of CH Projects

Craft & Commerce, photo courtesy of CH Projects

Shortly after falling hard for good bourbon in a stiff drink, we had the pleasure of discovering Craft & Commerce, a great little Prohibition-Era Cocktail Bar in Little Italy. The rest is history. They serve up Old-Fashioned after Old-Fashioned, and have quite a few variations, both on-menu and off. 

If you haven't had one, you should try one. Get down to C&C, or some other cocktail bar that uses bar spoons (instead of a straw to stir cocktails --- yes, I've seen it happen), has a good selection of bitters on the counter, and fresh oranges for garnishes.

The Old Fashioned is also great for making at home - so simple, in a cinch you'll have it memorized:

  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 oz rich simple syrup
  • 2 oz bourbon whiskey
  • Orange twist

Add the bitters and simple syrup to a mixing glass. Add ice, and then the bourbon. Stir briskly to blend and chill, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice rock, or several 1" ice cubes. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, cut a strip of orange. Hold the orange peel with the outside facing toward the glass, and pinch it to spritz the orange oil over the surface, then garnish with the peel. Try this recipe with various bitters - we like using coffee bitters and walnut bitters to mix it up. 

Old Fashioned Workshop - making me thirsty!  Shown here are Coffee Rye Bitters from San Francisco's Workhorse Rye.

Old Fashioned Workshop - making me thirsty!  Shown here are Coffee Rye Bitters from San Francisco's Workhorse Rye.

If you've enjoyed the Old Fashioned, next time ask for an Improved Whiskey Cocktail (yeah). We liked it so much out that we bought Absinthe and Maraschino liqueur to make them at home -- that's how our home bar got started. Just bourbon, bitters, absinthe and maraschino, for about the first year.  Here's a good recipe for the Improved Whiskey Cocktail from There Will Be Bourbon.  It omits the simple syrup, which is what we do at home, but if you like your drinks a little sweeter, the original recipes does call for 1 tsp in addition to the rest of the ingredients.