Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tool Academy

In our July/August cover story on summer cocktails, bartender Elizabeth Markham (formerly of Beaker and Flask in Portland, Ore.) created a garden-fresh Julep with spearmint, genever and white Port. But aside from crafting cocktails, Markham and her bartending boyfriend, Pete Gugni (formerly of Cantina in San Francisco), recently moved to a 13-acre estate in Fletcher, North Carolina, where they spend their free time forging sterling silver barspoons for their Defaced line of bar tools.

The project began last winter as a casual hobby when the pair visited Gugni’s mom, who owns the property just outside of Asheville. There, in the on-site metal shop, Gugni forged a barspoon for he and Markham to use behind their bars at work. Word got out, and numerous inquiries and special requests for custom barware led the duo to pack their bags this past April and head to North Carolina full time. Today, they spend their free time in their metal shop hammering, twisting and torching thick sterling silver wire into spoons bedecked with vintage coins, hence the line’s name. Scavenging the coins from area antique shops, Markham focuses on finds from the 1920s to ’40s for their higher silver content (which makes for a cleaner solder), and the added significance of originating in the era when cocktails were just beginning their post-Prohibition resurgence.

The spoons are evenly balanced from base to tip and weightier than commercial barspoons, making for a more substantial feel. Plus, the high silver content transfers temperature to your hand, acting as the ideal indicator for when drinks reach their optimum temperature. For now, Markham and Gugni and filling orders as fast as they come in and are working on some custom pieces, like an ice pick forged from a reclaimed railroad spike. You can score your own Defaced spoon for about $125 by emailing Markham at: defacedbarware@gmail.com.

Photos by Ron Dollete, lushangeles.com