Welcome to Can’t Live Without, in which we ask industry professionals to recommend one essential tool that makes their job easier. First up: Reyka Vodka ambassador Trevor Schneider and the citrus press he won’t travel without.
Last year, bartender Trevor Schneider spent nearly 200 days traveling for his job as Reyka Vodka’s U.S. brand ambassador. That amount of jet-setting requires careful planning, especially when strategizing what goes in your luggage. “Coordination and preparation is crucial for me,” says Schneider. “Traveling with my own tools and having them at my disposal really sets my mind at ease when I’m jumping behind bars I’ve never been behind before and meeting [new] people.”
The best spirits brand ambassadors are great bartenders, and the best bartenders know the importance of fresh ingredients. So when Schneider is packing for a work-related trip, there’s one tool he won’t leave behind: his citrus juicer. “Whenever I’m traveling,” he says, “especially in some of the smaller cities, there’s not always a [place] where I can get fresh-pressed juice … but I can almost always find a grocery store and buy fresh citrus. That’s really imperative for creating fresh cocktails.”
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Schneider has a hand press for quick jobs, but major events call for breaking out the big guns. For Schneider, that means going with his commercial-grade Hamilton Beach Manual Citrus Juicer, which can exert up to 2,000 pounds of force to extract juice with minimal effort. “The Hamilton Beach citrus press is one of those heavy-duty crank presses for doing, like, 50 or 60 lemons or limes,” he says. Originally manufactured in the 1930s, the classic juicer is sturdy and decidedly low tech—it doesn’t require a power source and can therefore be used just about anywhere. It’s simple to clean and its enamel coating protects it from the wear and tear of citric acid. And, while its 13-pound frame isn’t exactly lightweight, it’s durable enough to survive the amount of travel (and heavy use) that Schneider’s job requires.
The manual juicer makes prep much easier on the bartender’s body too. One recent event required Schneider to prep about a gallon of citrus juice beforehand. “Obviously,” he says, “that would be very time consuming if I just used the hand press, and it would require a lot more effort. And I usually bartend these [ambassador] events, so if I’m tired, and my hands are tired—for a bartender that’s the worst possible thing.”
For business travel, Schneider typically packs the juicer in his checked bag—he says he’s fairly certain it could fit in a carry-on, though you might get some strange looks from the TSA.
Gray Chapman is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes about spirits, beauty, and culture; she was formerly the managing editor of Tales of the Cocktail. Follow her on Twitter.