Today it is a waiter’s knife. First off all let’s determine what it is: a waiter’s knife, waiter’s key, waiter’s friend - you can call it also just bottle opener (used in professional environments - usually the home bottle openers are designed differently).
I have owned and bought in my career dozens if not 100’s of openers. Just like pens (in hospitality), you need them, but also quickly “loose” them. Colleagues (and at times guests) are “borrowing them” and don’t return them. You are forgetting them in your laundry and they get lost there, or they drop just out of your pocket on a very busy and tiresome day.
Hence if you are not a sommelier in a high profile fine dining environment - where you can consistently take 100% care of your stuff - or if you are just not a pedantic prick, who is not sharing his/her equipment when somebody is in need, it doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of your hard-earned coins, to procure one (looking at you, you gorgeous Laguiole.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s have a look, what makes a good waiter’s knife:
- Quality built - tight fittings
- Good material - metal should not bend
- Cork screw - sharp enough, not too tight, narrow - good function
- Good “lever” (e.g. linked 2-way action)
- Convenient size
- “Smoothness” - should not have sharp edges etc. as it most often in your pocket
- Should look adequate
I stumbled upon the Joseph Joseph BarWise corkscrew not so long ago in a Tavola shop here in Dubai. I actually really thought that it looks interesting - so I bought it (it was also not really expensive - around €15.
Built Quality / Materials:
it is sturdy - made out of a textured plastic material (good feel) - the lever and few other parts are made from cast aluminum (satin finish) - the spiral is obviously steel - with a black (teflon?) coating.
As mentioned the screw itself is also made out of a quality material. It is a bit tight (spirals) - and also not too “wide”.
Let’s face it - the lever is dope. It has no link - that means it is a single action - but due to the design it is easy to open corks with it. It is also pretty tall and well shaped - and at the bottle contact, there is a supporting “sheet reinforcement” - I guess, because aluminum is too soft, to ensure, the longevity. It is very well designed.
The Size, Weight and Smootheness:
Let’s not talk around the “elephant in the room” - the Joseph Joseph BarWise corkscrew is not a small tool! it is one of the bigger pieces I have owned. However due to the design (slightly bended) and the overall smoothness, it fits well in my pockets without any issues. It has also a good weight (so it feels sturdy and confident inspiring) without being heavy. I guess, that small waiters (especially females) might have an issue to fit it into a small pocket - but personally I think it is the best compromise between function and size.
As previously mentioned it looks very professional and “handsome”.
Ok - let’s face it - different people have different opinions and priorities. But for me, this tool ticks all the right boxes. Using it is ultra smooth. It has a very convenient bottle opener (unlike other waiter keys), which has a magnet (so the cap sticks to it) - very smart. It is really confidence inspiring - and I never missed the linked 2-way action. Talking about using it: I have got big hands - so it is very convenient to use - not sure, if people with smaller hands have the same experience. Besides of the magnet, there are also other touches which sets it apart- the capsule cutter is a wheel cutter integrated in the lever (it works - but maybe not as good as a traditional knife - though also no complaints) - but the lever also not only closes, but have a satisfying “click” when you close it - and stays close (and stays “tight”.
The material is also very nice. Yes the handle is plastic (and not wood or other luxury materials) - but it looks neat even in a luxurious environment - especially the finished aluminum makes it look pretty cool.
As already mentioned, for some it might be slightly too big. But this is not my personal experience - as it is very smooth and rounded and has also the unique bended (boomerang) design.
It is then also cheap enough to re-purchase it from time to time. Maybe it would be cool if the company would make a version with e.g. a leather coated body (and might even improve the lever grip, the spiral, the knife). I would keep it at home for my personal use. However I would say - especially when it comes to price-value, that this is one of the best keys around - if not THE best - I cannot remember, when I had a better one. Is it perfect? No. But if it is not too big for you, and if you are considering price/value, it is probably the closest to perfection you ever will encounter.