Be Cool, Shop Vintage!

October 8, 2020

Written by Sam

Are you IKEA’d-out? Does your bar need to evolve in a maximalist direction? Are you tired of plastic? Did you Marie-Kondo your house, only to find that you actually want a little more charming clutter back in your life?

If your answer to any of the above was yes, you may be ready to come and peruse our new vintage glassware & barware section at France 44! Curated by yours truly, it’s a fabulous way to bring some unique, mid-century-modern style to your home bar.

I first became interested in collecting antique and vintage glassware after reading Imbibe!, David Wondrich’s wildly informative (and quite funny) tome on the history of the cocktail. Once I started fooling around with Sherry Cobblers and Improved Whiskey Cocktails, it was a slippery slope to monthly (then weekly, and… ok, sometimes daily) trips to thrift stores and antique sales for more coupes, cocktail glasses, jiggers, shakers, and barspoons than I could ever hope to fit in my tiny apartment—because, after all, doesn’t a fancy old drink need a fancy old glass?

But, I promise, there is more than just aesthetics on the line here—those vintage glasses really do serve a specific culinary purpose! Pick up any classic cocktail recipe written pre-1950, and you’ll quickly find that the three-or-so ounces of whatever deliciousness you mix up looks pretty measly when you dump it into a modern cocktail glass. The reason? As the cocktail hour has shrunk over the years, our modern cocktail glasses have gotten larger in order to accommodate a single, headache-inducing Margarita (or Martini, or Manhattan, or, god-forbid, a Midori Sour) that can be downed in twenty minutes, rather than a series of smaller-sized cocktails that could be enjoyed over an hour or two (with slightly less debilitating effects).

Thankfully, our recent, more homebound lifestyles are the perfect time to revive the joys of a long, drawn-out cocktail hour—resplendent with small, session-able cocktails (and snacks—don’t forget the snacks!) that looks great served in tiny glasses with pretty etchings and silver rims and… well, you get the point. And, as long as you’ve got that stylish glassware lying around, you might as well complement it with a midcentury cocktail shaker, or a set of wooden-handled Japanese bar tools, or maybe a really chic cocktail tray? Who uses a cocktail tray anymore?? You do.

The cocktail “renaissance” that swept the country over the last decade has wound down. Every 30-year-old you meet has heard of a Negroni and wants a Mad Men-style tumbler to put it in, which means it’s never been harder to hunt down items of genuine quality and provenance in a sea of imitations. Luckily, that’s where your neighborhood geek at your neighborhood wine shop comes in, putting together a selection of excellent finds from around the Twin Cities—so that you don’t have to go hunting yourself! Come by the store and check it out.