Some are beautiful, some are practical, some are seasonal and some are all of the above. What they are not are your typical swizzle sticks/drink stirrers. Not there is anything wrong with the typical swizzle sticks. I like them, too, as they can tell a bit of US history. For example, hotels from Las Vegas long gone, and Playboy Clubs shuttered, still live on through their various swizzle sticks. And collectors do love these vintage and the new swizzle plastic sticks as well. Many of these swizzle sticks were produced by the Royer Corporation who is one of the largest producers of custom swizzle sticks in the US. In fact, did you know there is the International Swizzle Stick Collector’s Association?
But I will be detailing a different type of swizzle sticks that are not easily available. All these swizzles sticks are all glass, sterling silver, or stainless steel. I love all these but I will list these swizzles in order of what I consider the most unique.
The French Hand Painted Swizzles
This is my favorite swizzle stick of all the ones I personally own or any that I have ever seen! They are truly a work of art. And they are the most expensive of all the swizzle sticks that I own. I purchased them from an online antique store and the store owner purchased them on a buying trip to France. I assume they were made in France. One dealer has dated them to about 1900. The top of the swizzle sticks are various French soldiers. They are highly detailed and are hand painted in the French flag colors. Up close, you can even see the mustache of the soldiers. All the soldiers are made of porcelain. They sit atop the sterling silver with gold gilt base by prongs similar to a diamond ring. Each prong has a fleur-de-lis design element. The base of the swizzle is a rope sterling silver. The bottom of the swizzle has flared metal all around for muddling and for whisking champagne. The very bottom has a sharp point so it can be used as a pick, also. The dealer at the time of this writing had a 6 piece set for over $800. These exquisite swizzle sticks may have been exclusively commissioned for a very few, select people.
The St. John Home Safari Swizzle Sticks
This is another fantastic set from St. John Home Safari Collection. This company was at one time, a part of the luxury women’s clothing company, St. John. St. John Home is not producing goods so if one can find this set it will be on the secondary market.
The set is made up of a variety of animals that include a monkey, zebra, elephant, giraffe, leopard, and a rhinoceros. The animals sit on top of a ribbed stainless steel base with a ball bottom. The sticks come with their own fine urn shaped wonderfully detailed holder. The holder is adorned with colored Swarovski crystals and other ornate enhancements all around the holder. The base is black and white enamel that mimics the stripes of a zebra. The holder has two standing giraffes that encircle the urn holder. It is truly a magnificent set.
The Multi Color Umbrella Swizzle
This umbrella swizzle stick is long and has many vibrant blue, green, yellow, and red colors in various shades. It has a blue ball at the top and a clear ball at the bottom of the base. The top of the swizzle has a pretty design of bands that encircle the center. The edge of the top has rounded points all around it. The colors of the glass are reminiscent of Chihuly glass. This set also was sold with a coordinating pick set. I believe this set was sold by Pottery Barn. It is a beautiful , but delicate set.
Mikimoto Pearl Swizzle Sticks
These swizzle sticks were manufactured by the Mikimoto Corporation, the world famous company that was the first jewelry company to succeed in cultivating the world’s first cultured pearl. These swizzle sticks are made of stainless steel with a bow design at the top of the swizzle and a real, but tiny, Mikimoto pearl dangling from the swizzle. The base gently curves as well. This is a short swizzle that works well in glasses that are short. This swizzle was made in all silver stainless steel and one that part of the stick was a gold tone finish. This is a very creative design that enabled them to incorporate their famous pearls!
The Spade Shaped Sterling Silver Swizzles
Another set that I really love is the sterling silver, spade shaped swizzles. The design allows for them to be used as straws. The ball finials on the bottom are hollow that allows them to be straws. This set has 8 swizzles. This set was produced by Wallace Sterling Silver around 1940. Another reason I love this set is that my youngest daughter gave this set to me as a gift. It is a real prized possession!
Thermometer Swizzle Sticks
Several companies manufactured these swizzle sticks including the John L. Chaney Company. These sticks are highly functional as they have a thermometer inside the swizzle stick. It has a GO mark on the thermometer. When the temperature reaches the GO mark you know your cocktail is cold enough to drink. Additionally, the swizzle stick can be used for promotional marketing as the reverse side of the stick can have a company name, slogan, or other advertising message inside the swizzle. Some companies called them beverage thermometers. I do not think these type swizzle sticks are currently being manufactured. The ones I have seen were made in the 1950s.
The Short Swizzle Sticks
These swizzle sticks are great! So many drinks go into short glasses and the longer swizzles do not fit well in these glasses. These sticks are generally 4-5 inches in length and fit perfectly in the glass. These sticks have either a square or round top with a raised grid pattern for muddling certain drinks. These swizzle sticks have a ball bottom that generally matches the color of the top. The base of these swizzles tend to be thicker than the longer swizzles.
The Mickey Mouse Swizzle Sticks
These glass swizzle sticks were made for the Walt Disney Company. They were only available for a short time and they have a clear base. They have the iconic Mickey ear motif on the top of the stick. The ears are various multi colors, similar to many Murano glass items. The Disney Company made another swizzle that had the Mickey Mouse ears but these were all plastic. My wife is a big fan of all things Disney, and this is one of her favorites!
The Christmas/Holiday Swizzle Sticks
I have more Christmas and Holiday swizzle sticks than any other type of swizzle sticks. Some are all clear and some have beautiful colors. The tops of the sticks are a wide range of traditional symbols of Christmas such as wreaths and presents and of course, Santa. The first swizzle I am featuring to represent this category is a Santa Claus swizzle. This stick features a clear glass twist rope base. Sitting atop this base is Santa Claus. His beard is all clear glass as his is long hair. The face is detailed with rosy cheeks and dark eyes. The cap is a beautiful shade of green with a highlight of red at the very top.
The other swizzle stick for this category is the candy cane. This is a beautiful all glass cane shape with green, white, and red repeating pattern. I believe this to be Murano glass. Besides a great swizzle stick, this can even be used to decorate a Christmas tree!
The Antique Promotional Marketing Swizzle
This is the plain Jane out of all the swizzle sticks we detail in this article. However, this is an interesting item. For a portion of my career, I was in the promotional products industry. I believe this swizzle stick may have been one of the first forays into promotional marketing. It is a glass tube swizzle with a rolled up paper insert with the company name, Bond and Lillard and National Distillers Products Corporation. This is an old swizzle stick. I cannot be sure of how old, but National Distillers bought Bond and Lillard brand sometime during Prohibition. My guess this swizzle stick would have been manufactured sometime in the middle to late 1930’s just after Prohibition. I collect whiskey and this swizzle stick was a natural for me. Interestingly, the Bond and Lillard brand whisky, long dormant, has been recently revived by its parent company, Campari.
The Citrus Swizzle Sticks
These are a recent manufactured glass swizzle stick. They feature 3 different fruits, the lime, lemon, and orange. The top of the sticks are yellow, green, and orange color and have grooves in the glass to mimic the look of the fruit. Many drinks use twists of these fruit in their drinks. Examples include limes for gin and tonic, lemons in a Pimms Cup, and an orange in a Mai Tai. These swizzle sticks put an exclamation mark on the various drinks and I find myself using them all the time.
The original swizzle sticks were made from a plant and originated from the West Indies. They were first used in rum cocktails in the 1700’s. In the late 1800’s sticks of glass were manufactured. These were used to “stir up” the bubbles in champagne. It was believed carbonation of the champagne could cause indigestion and the stirring would take the carbonation out of the drink.
No matter if you collect all plastic swizzles that hold historical significance or collect more elaborate swizzles sticks, all are interesting and are essential for your bar and drink making. Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!
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