By the holidays, New Orleanians will be able to stir a Manhattan (and strain a cherry garnish) with a beautiful bronze bar spoon that was conceived and made in New Orleans.
Bartenders Katie Darling and Tony DiMunno have designed an attractive, high-quality bar spoon and a matching bronze julep strainer, both of which they'll sell through their Better Bar Company (www.betterbarcompany.com).
The business partners got the idea while tending bar at Bellocq (936 St. Charles Ave., 504-962-0911; www.thehotelmodern.com/bellocq) in 2012.
"We thought there was a gap in the industry," Darling says.
She and DiMunno have joined an American craft revival powered by homegrown companies making everything from small-batch spirits to custom sports equipment and even textiles.
They began by working out a star-and-crescent design, inspired by the city's water meters, with local master metalsmith Steven Donnelly. He hand-crafted prototypes in solid bronze; eventually, Darling and DiMunno will offer the line in other metals, including silver, copper and stainless steel. There will be tools for both working bartenders and home bars.
Next, they plan to fashion a bronze jigger and shaker in the same water meter motif. They plan to open a specialty shop selling locally crafted barware, including tools, punch bowls and drink dispensers. They also would like to open a craft bar (Better Bar, naturally). For now, they're looking for a New Orleans jeweler to manufacture their designs.
"As a bartender, I work with fluid materials, like liquors and mixers, every day," DiMunno says. "I also wanted to explore the antithesis of that. What's more permanent than hard-cast metal?"