Feet up, couch bound with a good book in one hand and a hot cup of coffee in the other is a reader’s rite of passage. Those co-mingling aromas of parchment and fresh grounds are undeniably intoxicating. Any favorite book can be heightened by the pairing, but it being the Fortnight of Coffee and all, we decided to filter some new picks in a sort of meta-coffee vein: five first-rate reads to further your knowledge of one of the world’s most popular drinks.
Hot coffee, un-burned crotch
Life seems to get difficult quick if you can’t bring your coffee with you; but if you spill, your treasured drink can become a mortal enemy. Nobody wants that. The solution is a great travel mug — one that keeps your coffee hot, your sips accessible and your crotch free of searing pain and disappointment. Finding the best mug for your cup holder (or mesh slot on your favorite backpack) isn’t as easy as you’d think, but we’ve gone ahead and done it anyway, because hell, it’s the Fortnight of Coffee. Here’s five great mugs, ranging from 12 to 17 ounces, for the backcountry hippie to the sharply dressed office warrior.
The good kind of cover up
Manufacturers would prefer to regularly pillage your wallet by selling you a screen for every situation — but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($80+) can transform your favorite Apple tablet into a laptop-rivaling email burner — and spare you the hassle of lugging a Smart Cover too, since it doubles as a magnetic cover.
Men’s accessory master Alexander Olch has stepped out of the box with a woven “in-the-round” wool-twill pocket companion ($60). It’ll even spruce up drab winter attire and transition to spring if you’re the type to live dangerously by taunting the sun in a blazer. More importantly, origami skills aren’t required. In fact for best results, a certain sloppy swagger is desired. Just pinch from the middle and tuck it into your blazer. Matchey mates will want to grab this companion tie, too.
Won't blow up ballons, will blow up battery life
Lately the scientific community has been up in arms about a global shortage of helium gas — a problem they say is ballooning out of control due to government fire sales of the stuff in the mid 90s. Thankfully, the new Mophie Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5 ($80) isn’t actually made of the stuff. The case is a full 13% thinner than any other prior Mophie juice packs, but adds an impressive 80% more battery life to the iPhone 5.
A stagger on the wild side
For the connoisseur of fine spirits, the dabbler of craft brews, arcane wine regions and exclusive distillations, we’ve got a read that’s a cat of a different feather. Twisted like a mixed metaphor, Alt Whiskeys: Alternative Whiskey Recipes and Distilling Techniques for the Adventurous Craft Distiller ($30) offers the experimenting distiller some whiskey recipes that step past the fringe.
Ring belts are the saving grace for casual types who can’t stand the sight of belt loops in the raw. These Archival Webbing Belts ($28) are a restrained alternative to the preppy stripes and bright colors you’ll soon see crowding retailers’ spring shelves. They’re made in Portland, OR, from British mil-spec cotton webbing and feature a Horween leather tab and red bar tack stitching. For proper sizing, measure your waist and add 6 inches, then compare this number to Archival’s “Finished Length of Belt”. Remember to leave slack for those porterhouse binges.
Tie one on
You can never have enough ties. Taking the burden off of grandma, your girlfriend and your wallet, FreshNeck ($15+) offers a huge library of neckpieces (along with bowties, cufflinks, pocket squares and other assorted style items) for your perusal and rental. The service works because of some inherent laws of manhood.
Tequila's lunatic cousin
It’s been a while since we rode the mezcal train, so let’s begin with a brief primer. Actually, let’s begin with a shot. Good. Now, on to the primer. Mezcal and tequila are sort of like langoustines and prawns: we’d bet a shiny nickel they’re different, but if pressed for an explanation we’d have to say they both basically taste like shrimp. Sombra Mezcal ($40) is made by baking the agave hearts in a conical pit lined with rocks that have been heated with an oak fire — and its earthy, spicy taste is a great one to throw back.
Slick moisture sucker
We would like to reiterate the fact that photography is an expensive hobby. Most photographers are poor. They can’t afford to be spending precious Ramen money on replacing camera bodies. Once you obtain that coveted high quality camera body, you want to keep it in tip-top shape; to do so we recommend the BRNO Dri+Cap ($70), which guards against fungus, mold and other camera-destroying agents that spawn from humidity changes.
It's what's underneath that counts
“Daily wear” is right; we’re not promoters of commando in the least. Mack Weldon socks, underwear and undershirts ($13-$32) hit the nail on the skivvies head. They’re simple, reasonably priced and comfortable as hell.
Rock Out With Your Crock Out
There’s a magic cauldron for preparing food — one you’re likely not using — that combines convenience, a near-guarantee against overcooking and the ability to transform inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into tender, flavorful dishes. This fire-and-forget-it tool? The slow cooker. A slow cooker, as the name suggests, takes low heat, moisture and a long…
Riding your vintage hipster fixie might be cool. The tattered velcro handlebar bag that looks like you stole it from your sister when you were eight? Not cool. Detroit Cargo bails out ill-fitted cyclists with their Jefferson Handlebar Bag ($84). More English saddlebag than beats by Dre, the bag can hold tools, phones or even…
No cubes in this icebox
Guys like to climb stuff — trees, corporate ladders and, of course, icy mountains. The scarier, the better. The Black Diamond Ice Box ($80) is a great solution for storing lots of pointy gear that needs to be handy at a moment’s notice. The box holds four tools, a pair of crampons (stop giggling, dammit)…
They're not fat, they're just big-boned
We’re not all in on the skinny tie phenomenon. But they’re absolutely a part of your style arsenal and happen to be in big time right now — besides, those extra-bloated wide-os make you look like your fat uncle. Brooklyn-based Skinny Fatties has the simple, cost-effective and good-looks-inducing solution: for $30 bucks, they’ll Jenny-Craig your…
Chargers without borders
During his 2011 WWDC keynote address, Steve Jobs, introducing the latest round of Cupertino gold, said over and over “It just works”, which is a pretty fair summation of what makes Apple products Apple products. But the problem with electronics, Apple or not, is they only work if they have power (your move, Tim Cook)….
Tasty, tasty patriotism
In recent years, London Dry gin hasn’t done so hot. Looming in the shadows of vodka and whiskey, the juniper-tinged spirit has been cast aside as a singular-tasting alcohol of choice for a generation past its prime — dry gin is your father’s and grandfather’s drink, not yours. But with a new class of excellent brands in an “American” dry style — boasting a more balanced and widely ranging flavor profile — blossoming as we speak, you’d be wise to reconsider. We found 5 of the best on the market.
Drill baby drill
The cordless drill is the most useful tool in any man’s bag. Untethered power and portability combined with the ability to go from drill to drive in mere seconds make it the go-to grab for most projects around the house. While the 18V and 20V bit-twisters of the world have homes on the belts of contractors and semi-pro weekend warriors alike, breaking out the big guns just to hang a picture or tighten some screws is well, overkill — plus every now and then things can get a little tight. Whether you’re just beginning your collection or adding to the fleet, the torque and twist-time offered by today’s 12V versions rivals many of their corded counterparts, minus the heft; that can often be the difference between completing a job and cursing til the cows come home.
The folks at MR. PORTER know a fair thing or two about living the good life. Subsequently, adding The MR. PORTER Manual For a Stylish Life Volume 1 ($35) to your ever-evolving style library is an easy recommendation. The new paperback is compiled by the site’s editor-in-chief, Jeremy Langmead, and provides detailed analysis of timeless…
Whittle away at your meal
Sure, you’ve used an Opinel blade to eat — but that was a skewer of venison charred over a kindling fire under the stars. Enjoy quality cutlery under different circumstances with Opinel’s Bon Apetit Table Knives ($70). These dishwasher-safe, olive wood-handled knives feature Swedish stainless steel blades and handsome, sleek design, somewhere between a paring and a steak knife
While we love a good baseball cap, we don’t always want to be advertising our favorite sports teams. Maybe it’s that we’re getting a little older and a little more refined, or maybe our team is just bottom of the barrel this year (if you ask us which one it is, you’re as likely to get a straight answer from Manti Te’o). That said, one of our favorite places for minimally branded ball caps, Fair Ends, just launched some additions to their already stellar range. The new set is offered in both camp (5-panel) and ball cap configurations, in either waxed cotton or flannel. Waxed cotton will shed the worst winter can throw at it, just like your favorite Barbour; flannel will help keep that dome a little warmer. The choice is up to you. We know which one is our favorite…
Serious Camp Solutions
Holding on to heritage for dear life while still being picky about efficiency, quality and practicality is taking the tough path — but produces the kind of results we dig. Bush Smarts, a New York-based builder, designer and sourcer of prime camp gear, has created a library of outdoor gear that eschews flash and gimmick…
East Coast, meet West Coast
East meets West — Coast, that is — with Gorjana & Griffin. Offering wares for men on the move (women too) that speak to a bi-coastal lifestyle, Griffin & Gorjana strikes a balance between city and beach, polished and casual, offering up iPad cases, handsome weekenders and everything in between. Spearheaded by husband and wife pair Gorjana and Jason Griffin Reidel, Gorjana & Griffin designs and hand produces offerings entirely in their 6,000-square foot studio based in Laguna Beach, California. Further evidence of good intentions? Gorjana & Griffin backs its social commitment with a charitable foundation to aid a variety of causes, including Southern California’s first Food Truck Festival, which benefits children with cancer. Now that’s something we can get behind — and wear.
Reload your bar
Bulleit Bourbon has long been an affordable favorite for lovers of the smokey libation. Bulleit 10 Year ($45) adds some age and flavor distinctions, at a price. The fine gentlemen over at Bourbon Blog have had the first crack at the new whiskey, and from what we can tell, it’s definitely worth a try. This…
Just in case
A tsunami of protective cases soon follows every major smartphone release. Some are functional, some are stylish — but few are both, and most are forgettable. So when we were offered a trio of new cases from SYSTM to try out on an iPhone 5, we were understandably skeptical. A month of testing has proven…
Go on Walkerabout
How did one make his whisky known around the world in a time before big branding and Super Bowl commercials? Johnnie Walker and his associates walked. The Spice Road ($43) is the first release in JW’s Explorers’ Club Collection (followed soon by The Gold Route and The Royal Route), a series made with the traveler…
Gardening was never so much fun
Art in the Age’s craft spirits line focuses on “remakes” of historical libations. Though we’re still waiting for the Spanish Fly-type beverage Benjamin Franklin fed to his ravenous young French groupies, Sage ($30), a take on classic backyard garden gin, strikes our fancy quite nicely in the meantime. Thomas Jefferson’s favorite botanist, Bernard McMahon, chronicled…
Looks good in leather
We of all people love a good camera, but sometimes they can be so aesthetically… well, boring. Cold, monochromatic bodies coupled with cold, monochromatic buttons, dials and lenses — it makes even the plainest of men want to go out and do a little accessorizing. And while you may be cringing over the mental image…
Fill 'er up
It can be emitted by your stomach, your dog or your angry in-law, but the best form of the low rumble is the growler, beer drinkers’ response to the doggy bag. Portland Growler Co. knows their way around these 32- and 64-ounce jugs o’ joy better than just about anybody. The (you guessed it) Portland company proudly designs a range of growlers, which are then slip cast, trimmed and made to order by Mudshark Studios (also of Portland, of course).