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Handsome Drink

Form meets function in Crucial Detail’s Porthole Infuser


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Porthole Infuser | Photography by Lara Kastner

If you’ve been to the Aviary in Chicago—molecular gastronomy pioneer Grant Achatz’s cocktail bar—maybe you’ve spotted them: minimalistic, round containers with glass centers displaying a kaleidoscope of fruit, herbs, vegetables, flowers and spices. Created specially for Achatz by Chicago-based designer Martin Kastner, the Porthole Infuser turns cocktail making into visual art.

Despite a well-publicized 2012 Kickstarter campaign, I’d never heard of the infuser until a guest brought one to a dinner party I recently attended. Photos don’t do the Porthole Infuser justice. It’s truly a beautiful object that—at least in my very limited experience—makes a great cocktail. (In this case, it was a Ginger Rye Mikado.)

Glass Tumblers by Martin Kastner

Kastner heads up the culinary-minded design studio Crucial Detail, which he founded in San Diego in 1998 before moving to Chicago. A few years ago, he was talking with bar chefs at the Aviary about quick ways to create infused cocktails and came up with the Porthole concept. (The Ginger Rye Mikado, for instance, requires only 30 minutes infusing time.) The infusers were such a hit with Aviary patrons, Kastner launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring them to the retail market and exceeded his $28,500 goal by more than $700,000.

An infuser, available for purchase on Crucial Detail’s web shop, will set you back $99, but it’s a sturdy piece that’s as functional as it is attractive. Not a cocktail person? You can use it to make a range of infusions, from oils to fruit syrups to infused teas and coffees. And design lovers might want to take a look at other Kastner creations, which include mesmerizing glass tumblers and porcelain pitchers.

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