Tools of the Trade is a new series in which we ask chefs, bartenders and other restaurant folks which tools they simply can't live without. Today we talk to Corner Door barkeep Beau du Bois.
Since opening in the spring of 2012, the Corner Door in Mar Vista has become known as a friendly neighborhood hangout with some good gastropub grub. But more than that, it's gotten a reputation for very good cocktails. We were interested to see what head bartender Beau du Bois says he needs in order to deliver such consistently great drinks. And we were intrigued when one of those things was vodka, a spirit most bartenders abhor. Read on for the five tools du Bois uses to practice his trade.
5. Yarai Old-Fashioned Glasses
“By now, there are few cocktail enthusiasts who don't know and love their Yarai Mixing Glass. At Bar & Garden in Culver City, I recently discovered that they make Yarai old-fashioned glasses as well. Sharing the durability and beautiful weave pattern with the mixing glass, the cocktail glasses join my Yarai bitters bottles to complete my collection.”
4. Punt e Mes
“Made by Carpano, this bitter vermouth is a game changer when it comes to any cocktail calling for sweet vermouth. I use it primarily in one of our cocktails called Grandma's Pack of Cigarettes: rye, Punt e Mes, house-made coffee Thai chili bitters, and creme de cacao. Just that extra bitter characteristic from Punt e Mes balances the spice from the rye and sweetness of the creme de cacao.”
“I admit, with no sense of guilt, I don't have every classic cocktail committed to memory. Bartender's Choice is a great app made by infamous bartender Sam Ross — I use it behind the bar on a nightly basis. With a mix of classic cocktails and contemporary recommendations, all complete with some history behind them. I ask all my bartenders to download it.”
2. Clear Block Ice
“I buy 25-pound blocks from a company called Cal Ice and cut them into individual cubes for cocktails at the Corner Door. These blocks are cut down from a 300-pound slab of ice made with a Clinebell machine, which freezes the ice very slowly from the inside out — making the ice very clear and dense. Aside from being visually striking in a drink, the ice will melt much slower than the blocks made in your freezer.”
1. Vodka (Hear me out!)
“On the subject of cutting ice, anyone who has worked with and stored large amounts of cut ice will complain about the blocks sticking together in the freezer. The blocks can be become very misshapen when you try to pry them apart, ruining your efforts to cut perfect cubes. I discovered that if I rinsed the blocks with a tiny bit of vodka before storing them in the freezer, they wouldn't freeze back together. I was so excited when I tried this little trick that I almost feel strange about sharing it.”