Is there anything worse than reaching for that frosty glass of lemonade on a warm day, only to find a recently-airborne critter doing the backstroke in your drink? Well, yeah, I can tell you what's worse. Taking a gulp, then realizing there was a swimmer in the pool.
A sports bottle or an insulated travel mug with a lid solves the problem when it's just you in the back yard, but when you're hosting a barbecue, maybe you'd like something a little more festive for the mojitos and margaritas. Right now, canning jars are very trendy as drinkware.
The Ball Sip & Straw lids ($7/4) are one of the latest accessory items from the company that's filling your shelves with canning jars. The plastic Sip & Straw lids replace the flat canning jar lid, and you use your own jar rings to secure them. A round hole lets you sip from the container, or you can insert a straw into that hole.
After some initial confusion (yes, I'm easily baffled by simple things) I realized that the lids can be used with the bump upwards or the divot downwards. Using a straw, it didn't make any difference which way the lid faced, but there were sipping differences. With the divot downward, it was like sipping from a travel mug, while bump-up sipping was more like using a sports bottle.
The four-packs of lids also includes four reusable straws, but pretty much any straw will fit - the holes are large enough to accommodate the wide "milkshake" straws as well as regular-sized straws. The included straws are a reasonable length for use with either pint or quart jars, depending on how thirsty you are.
While these aren't the most earthshaking devices on the planet, they take very little space to store, and if you've already got canning jars on hand, you instantly have plenty of matching and inexpensive drinkware. Besides keeping pests out of beverages, these make the drinks less messy if you tip them over. You'll get some spillage, but it's not as bad as dumping a whole glass of sticky spiked raspberry lemonade onto the picnic table.
Of course, glass jars are breakable, but canning jars are pretty sturdy, particularly if they're likely to fall on lawn rather than concrete.
There are two sizes of lids—to fit either regular or wide-mouth jars—so you could use that feature to differentiate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, if that's an issue at your party. Or just choose a lid size to match your canning jar collection.
Both the lids and the straws are dishwasher safe.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.