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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Swizzle Sticks: An Odyssey

It is a constant in my life that any time I want to buy a commonly found product it is suddenly un-findable.  I go through this often.  From slider buns to frilled cocktail picks, something that was previously everywhere is suddenly scarce, even online.  In this spirit, I share with you a tale that ultimately has a happy ending, but was harrowing for a while, the Swizzle Stick Odyssey.

The preparations for our Ohana Luau at the Lake crawl room have begun, even though the event isn't until late June.  For the uninitiated, a room crawl is a bar crawl that takes place in a hotel.  Event attendees sign up to host and guests go from room to room, collecting drinks and tying one on.  It's a lot of fun.  While it may seem freakishly early to begin our preparations, we're very busy and complications, such as the one about to be illustrated, DO arise, so an early start to the planning is often the only thing that saves us from last minute tears and heartache.

In the past we've ordered custom imprinted swizzle sticks for our room crawl cocktails, but this year we came up with a brilliant (if we do say so ourselves) idea that involves building our own souvenir swizzle sticks.  All we need are the blank sticks, typically easily attainable in most supermarkets.  We need about 200, but since they come in packs of 50, that shouldn't be a problem.  Four packs and we're done.

Uh, right.

We had most of a box of sticks left from a previous custom swizzle project, so Paul set to work drilling holes in those, figuring we'd pick up the rest the next time we were at the supermarket.  Of course our local supermarket chose this exact moment to rearrange the entire store, leaving a gaping hole on the shelf where the sticks would typically be offered.  We did manage to find one lonely, forgotten pack, which brought us up to about 90 - far short of the needed 200.  Okay, no big deal.  I'll check the other stores.  Right.  ALL other local stores let me down.  Party City had some that were too long.  So we got online.  Diamond, the company that made the ones we were able to find, suddenly doesn't show them as a product on their site.  Amazon?  Nope.  Ebay?  Nope.  Google?  No dice.  I was starting to get annoyed.

Tuesday I was in NYC and had some time to kill, so I figured I'd check the stores there.  I started at Zabar's, which had one pack of 22.  Not enough to cover our needs, but somewhat encouraging.  I love Zabar's.

Next up: Westside Market.  No swizzle sticks and I was subjected to a Phil Collins song I will not share, lest you get it stuck in your head, like I did.  GRRR...

Fairway Market: no swizzles.

Whole Foods: no swizzles, but the did have dairy free ice cream samples and a rather good selection of cocktail syrups, which was nice to see.  They also had the frill picks I recently couldn't find anywhere, as did just about every other store I visited.  It's nice to see the shopping gods are keeping entertained by messing with me.

Williams Sonoma: no swizzles, but they did have soup samples.  At least I was keeping my blood sugar up.

Sur La Table (two locations): no swizzle sticks, but they DID have beer goggles, should the need for those ever arise.

Pearl River Mart: no swizzle sticks, but the DID have some nifty pinwheel picks and a good price on the lime squeezer we've been wanting to pick up.  Focus, Kelly!

Astor Wines & Spirits: no swizzle sticks and the rum display was blocked by two guys having a pretentious rum discussion.  Been there, done that.

Kmart: so close:

Finally, after hours of searching, Food Emporium came in with the win!

They may not be 50 packs, but we are BACK in business and didn't have to pay shipping!  Whew!  Of course, now that I have gone through all that, I will see them in every store I enter.  Our crawl room swizzles will be done by the end of the month, giving us plenty of time for the next mundane shopping challenge we will surely face.  Bring it on!

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