We Needed This: Viski Serves Up Crafty Barware
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True Brands CEO Dhruv Agarwal’s first big business venture—cute, reusable wine bags—constituted considerable success with “a dumb idea.” “That actually takes some real work,” Agarwal says. “It’s easy to be successful with a great idea.”
His company, true to its plural name, has since developed a roster of beverage-centric offshoots. And Viski’s ascent to the top of the Fremont-based brand's portfolio is far from dumb. Founded in 2012 amid a national craft cocktail renaissance, Viski brings smart, just-esoteric-enough barware to the masses at prices (about $30 for a shaker, $60 for a solid set of tools, and $10 per cocktail glass) that cater to self-proclaimed mixologists—but won’t strike guilt into the hearts of noncommittal hobbyists.
And isn’t that what we’ve all become? First it was craft beer, which—despite a deeply loyal Seattle crowd—hasn’t proved as heady in recent years. Wine devotees’ rosé bubble seems bound to burst. But if cocktail enthusiasts turn bitter, Agarwal will be the first to know. The Viski team religiously follows internet trends to see what people are searching for and pivots accordingly. Right now, it’s all about specific glasses for specific drinks: a hurricane glass, a gin and tonic glass, a negroni glass.
The product development process doesn’t end with search terms. Though Agarwal and his cofounders’ experience in the beverage space pre–True Brands primarily consisted of drinking, the company employs and consults beverage experts like Henri Schock, sommelier and owner of Mr. West and Bottlehouse. Viski, especially, looks to bartenders and other connoisseurs who insist on things like specific vessels for specific drinks. “I thought it was like, kind of bullshit,” Agarwal admits. Until he experienced a science lesson slash taste test. Now: “I’m definitely a believer.”
And if Agarwal believes it, it seems, it’ll come to fruition one way or another. This is the guy who, with his cofounders, moved to Seattle in 2003 with a U-Haul full of wine bags, roomed with nine people in a Capitol Hill house called “the Spaceship,” and built a company that’s lasted nearly two decades.
Don’t get us wrong, Viski’s not perfect: Certain pieces—like the atomizer with the world’s tiniest funnel—could be more functional. Gold coloring isn’t quite consistent across the line. But for supporting an under-the-radar local brand and building a home bar that’ll give you a buzz no matter how much you actually use it, Viski’s definitely a good idea.
Meridian Tumblers Local
$18 for two
Bartender Adam Way stacks cubes of clear ice in this versatile glass and garnishes with a bit of orange peel twirled around a straw.
Round Gold Serving Tray Local
Whether you're carrying supplies to an apartment rooftop or just across the living room, this bright gold tray helps you give serving the attention you give your drinks.
Studded Glass Decanter Local
Viski stocks a variety of decanters, from simple and modern to ornate and decorative. This one, clearly, falls in the latter camp—fill it with your favorite spirit (or, bartending pro-tip, water mixed with a few dashes of bitters) for quick and useful decor.
Angled Crystal Hurricane Glasses Local
$28 for two
Perfect for hurricanes, of course—or any other tropical drink. Way fills his with pebble ice and garnishes with mint, pineapple leaves, and a cherry pierced by Viski's gold cocktail picks ($15 for six).
Gold Parisian Cocktail Shaker Local
The cocktail shaker serves as many enthusiasts' first major hobby purchase—it's a necessity for dozens of classic drinks. Take note: The Parisian-style shaker doesn't come with a strainer; nab one separately or do some fancy straining work with the lid.