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Hip Flasks
Photo/Jeff Harris
Drinking flasks conjure a few cliché images: the quick snort enjoyed surreptitiously at the big game; the high-school knave who spikes the punch at the prom; the rugged container that stops a bullet aimed at a cinema hero. (Don’t rely on that one—even a .22 bullet can penetrate the typical flask.) But a flask is an accessory fit for every gentleman who wants his drink to be portable and/or private, but still stylish.

The term “flask” is often prefaced by the word “hip” (meaning the body part, not the slang for fatally trendy). But a good one may be hidden anywhere: at the chest, in an attaché case or any commodious pocket. Some even believe that the term “bootleg” arose from moonshiners using that very spot to hide a sample of their illicit wares.  The proper flask contours to the body, a deterrent to unsightly bulges and inconvenient detection. Never is that function more alluring than when, in the movie Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe reveals a garter flask hugging her bare thigh.

Stainless steel is the accepted standard material in sturdy flasks (although the Snow Peak flask pictured at center takes strength a step further with titanium). Pewter is too weak and tinny. Silver is just precious. (This is a drinking tool, not a display piece.) And don’t go déclassé and substitute an off-the shelf, glass pint bottle as a makeshift hip flask. You won’t have any whiskey left to cry in after it inevitably shatters in some bloody mishap.

Styles are myriad. A leather covering (as in the Ettinger unit, left) offers understated decoration as well as a protective cover. The Scotch tartan on the Barbour flask (right) probably leaves no doubt as to what’s inside. A metal tether will keep track of the top. 

What goes in a flask is whatever you like. Brown goods come to mind because they’re well camouflaged, but clear spirits are fine, even cocktails. What comes out of it is everything. Liquor will go stale in a flask after more than a few days. Drink it all or pour the remainder back in the original bottle. And keep your flask clean with water and mild soap before air drying upside down. 

Our favorite flask use comes from a fanciful story about how the number of holes on a golf course was decided. Seems two Scots played a round, taking a swig from their flasks at every flag. They ran out when they reached 18. Must have been pretty big flasks.

Drink

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