Upgrade Your Bar Cart With These Vintage-Inspired Laser-Etched Decanters

Meet the Etsy shop that makes drinking even more fun

The Variance Set
The Variance Set
Reclamation Etchworks
By Lee Cutlip / March 30, 2020 2:26 pm

Despite the unfortunate name, Etsy isn’t all popsicle-stick sculptures and kitten sweaters. Enter: Debunking Etsy, a recurring column profiling all the wonderfully talented craftspeople who use the site to peddle well-built, hard-wearing and handsome goods for your home and person.

It all began in 2012. Industrial designer Timothy Daw and visual artist/therapist Tanessa Handl (and soon-to-be Tanessa Daw) found themselves with the task of decanting large-format spirit bottles in preparation for an upcoming holiday gathering. Timothy, in addition to immersing himself in San Francisco’s dining and cocktail culture, had been perfecting the art of laser-etching. With this in mind, the (now) husband-and-wife duo sought to recreate an oft-forgotten relic, the spirit decanter, in a manner that would appeal to modern sensibilities. Borne from this idea was the Variance Collection, a set of six laser-etched decanters featuring essential spirits, from Bourbon to Scotch, ideal for beginning the process of building one’s home bar. And thus, Reclamation Etchworks came to be.

Don’t you wish your bar cart looked like this?

Eight years later, Tanessa and Timothy continue to put their laser-etched touch on new and reclaimed spirit bottles. From the brand’s conception, the duo have upheld a commitment to sustainability through upcycling, working closely with San Francisco bartenders to source and reclaim empty bottles, ultimately giving them a second life. “Our goal is to create lasting products in this disposable culture and believe that sustainability should compromise neither functionality nor engaging aesthetics.”

Before a bottle reaches the stage of laser etching, there are several steps that are first required. It’s a deeply collaborative process that requires extensive research into the era the client is hoping to evoke through the bottle, from reading about the drinking habits and popular cocktails of the time, to seeking out the bottle that has just the right shape and size. From there, Tanessa and Timothy work with a designer who specializes in period-inspired design to achieve their vision. And it’s not only about the aesthetic outcome, but the functional one as well — the decanters, in addition to serving as decorative pieces, are meant to be used. Ultimately, it’s a process that can take months.

The fanciest Absinthe bottle we’ve ever seen.

But the end result is well worth the wait, as evidenced by the delicately etched decanters that would make a handsome addition to anyone’s bar cart. Now they can be personalized to your liking, whether it be with your family’s namesake or a message for someone you intend to gift it to (naturally, these make great gifts). Although these bottles are sophisticated, that doesn’t mean the messages always have to be. Take the Inebriated Intentions series as example, beautifully etched decanters with cheeky phrases and even poems (Roses are red, Bourbon is amber, Poems are hard, So here’s a decanter).

The act of drinking can be a deeply personal experience, especially when shared with close company. Tanessa and Timothy Daw recognize the communality, and sentimentality, drinking often engenders, and further enrich the experience with each bottle they craft. In turn, it’s an equally personal process for the brand, as they often work on projects they hold dear to them, like creating personalized decanters for first responders and service people who work tirelessly throughout Northern California’s fire seasons.

If you feel as though your home bar is lacking, a decanter (or two or three) from Reclamation Etchworks is the ideal addition and soon you’ll be able to purchase matching glassware from the brand. Cheers to that.