Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Be the savior of gatherings everywhere, and open a beer with your bare hands and a spoon.
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“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” -- Archimedes
It’s a nightmare situation. The beach is lovely, your friends are there, there’s a frisbee and chips and salsa, maybe somebody brought their dog and it’s being cute. Inevitably somebody brought a cooler full of beer, but ack!: nobody thought to bring a bottle opener. It’s a disaster, a hellscape, a perfect storm. What is to be done?
A nice, non-twist bottle of beer, like a fine wine, or maybe also a banana, begins with a test. It says -- you have me, but first you must open me up. Common sense and extremely late-night television dictate that there is a tool for every problem -- for beer, we have a bottle opener. But what if we don’t? What if, like the problem first almost-outlined by Alanis Morrissette herself, we have 10,000 spoons, when all we need is a goddamn bottle opener? If college taught me one thing, it’s use the spoons! Or one of them anyways.
You can open a bottle of beer with anything. The concept is simple -- we need to somehow MacGyver a lever, class one. The cool thing is it’s one of the oldest concepts in physics, and you can basically make one from kind of anything. Spoons are the dream, lighters are the classic choice, flat rocks will do, iPhone cases work extremely well, or at least mine does, and, yes, Citibike keys can be pressed into service in a pinch. The emphasis overall is on Sturdy -- whatever it is shouldn’t have a lot of bend, or be too likely to deform or crack against the metal of the cap. No sporks, no foods (I don’t think?), no actual phones, no many-different-things made of wood (if we’re being safe), and, again, no actual phones.
Grab the beer with one hand, index finger slinking somewhat loosely around the cap, and with your bottom three fingers wrapped tightly to the bottle. They will serve as the backbone of our lever system -- a triple layer of structural support for the fulcrum that is your index finger. Ideally they will wrap tightly enough as to allow for very little give once the lever starts pressing. I tend to keep my thumb wrapped a little bit over the cap to prevent it flying off into nothing as you wrest it from the bottle.
The other hand should grasp the spoon tightly -- thumb pressing in the bowl of the spoon, index fingers pressing against one another for extra force, and meat of the palm pressing against the handle to provide necessary push higher up the lever. The spoon should lock in under the grooves of the cap, angled slightly above it, and the bowl should push into the index finger of your gripping hand.
Push down on the handle of the spoon with your palm, while simultaneously levering the index finger of your spoon hand upwards with your wrist. You should feel the spoon pressing into fulcrum -- your other index finger -- which you can squeeze more tightly into the bottle to amplify the lever’s force. The bottom 3 fingers of your gripping hand should not budge much -- remember: they’re the backbone, everything ultimately pushes off of them.
This is, in theory, the point that the cap comes free. Probably now your friends are looking over at you, marvelling at your accomplishment while their eyes plead in the way that says “Hey, dude, can you grab me a beer while you’re over there?”.
Got any fantastical beer-opening stories? Let us know in the comments!