My mother’s pressure canner was such a fixture of my childhood that I just had to salvage it from the storage shed on our Tennessee farm. In its time it helped us preserve years’ and years’ worth of gardens and gardens of produce. It dates to the 1950s and is no longer safe for its originally intended purpose, but it is such a magnificent thing that I couldn’t let it go. Now it sits in our California home, waiting for something to do. And this past weekend, we discovered a novel way to press it into service.
As Himself and I prepared for a party, we discovered that the old canner made the perfect ice bucket. Most ice buckets are too small to be practical, because someone has to keep refilling them throughout the evening. But this big ol’ steampunk monstrosity needed no refilling, and the pressure gauge on the lid made a good handle. It was an awesome conversation piece as well as a nifty bit of repurposing.
Oh yeah, you can see from those empty bottles that our premixed cocktails vanished pretty quickly. They are a great way to simplify the bar. We made two, one with clear spirits and one with amber, to please more tastes. They were a big hit–in fact, the beer and wine got really lonely that night.
If you want to give this a try, I’d suggest filling a couple of interesting bottles like these and then having refills mixed and at the ready in pitchers. We labeled the bottles with the ingredients as well as the names and had bowls of garnishes to the side, thin orange slices for the Negroni and Luxardo cherries for the Manhattan. This way, guests could help themselves, and no one was tied to bartending.
The Negroni is a particularly easy cocktail to make in quantity, for the measurements are all the same: equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. It’s a good party cocktail, for it aids in digestion–a welcome thing, what with all that grazing!