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Product Review: One Juicer to Rule Them All?

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A few months back, the kind folks at Canada’s Vintage Kitchen Appliance sent us a sample of “The Press”, their homage to the classic discontinued Wear-Ever juice press. Today, however, we’re going to talk about the Land Rover North American Specification (NAS) Defender 110 instead, because we have a point to make. At least, we hope we do.

Released to the States for the single year of 1993, the NAS Defender was ripped straight from the pages of road-less (or never)-traveled adventure porn.   Offered in just one color — Alpine White — and factory-stocked with an exterior roll cage and brush guard, the 110 promised go-anywhere, tackle-anything functionality and a style much more Papa Hemingway than the Rover Discovery’s soccer mom. Whatever the journey may hold, the 110 would be there for you — an offer which came at a cost of (then) approximately $40,000. The price was much greater than a UK-spec Defender, but not out of line with the total sum you’d be set back bringing an English model into America. The investment was likely a good one as, in the twenty-some years since its release, prime examples of the NAS 110 have commanded as much as $150,000. The takeaway for the guy who still pines for the car almost daily (that would be me) is: “Go ahead and dream – maybe you’ll get the next one.”

There’s always a big fish that gets away — and chasing it is often more fun than catching it. Right, Ahab? I’ve consigned myself to the fact that the NAS 110 will never sit in my garage, but that’s okay, because there are other prizes to be found there. Some of those prizes are other vehicles, but most are smaller relics from “the good old days” because “they don’t make things like they used to”. The cocktail world seems hell-bent on shining light into every nostalgic corner and uncovering some long-forgotten gem or other. If a product can’t track its roots back to early Sumerian mead pottery, well, then it’s not worthy or just somebody trying to turn a quick buck. Older is not only better, it’s the only way.   At least, as Taylor Swift tells us, “that’s what people say. Umm hmm.”

Like the Defender 110, the Vintage Kitchen Press harkens back to a simpler time when products where built to last. It comes in just one color, which we’ll call Arctic White until they correct us. Like the 110, it has lots of aluminum parts which are designed to do a job and do it very, very well. Sturdy and functional are the orders of the day. Unlike clamshell presses (a favorite of ours), the Vintage Press is designed to be operated with a single hand. Whereas the clamshells require brute force, the heft of the Press promises to provide a good portion of the muscle. It claims to be AK47-easy to clean. It claims to be both fundamentally practical and attractive, in a cool retro way. Does it deliver?

Hands down, our favorite juicer is our electric centrifugal model, which boasts the power to provide you with a refreshing glass of diamond nectar should you be inclined to ask it. Given our limited counter space and the time it takes to clean, the centrifuge doesn’t see daily use. It’s also not right for every job. We have a collection of designer reamer-style juicers from companies like Alessi, but these are pulled out only in a pinch — serving primarily as decoration (they are cute). No, the workhorses around our kitchen are the enamel-coated clamshell presses, which come in multiple sizes, can be had for under $10, and — best of all — extract lovely oils from citrus peel along with the juice.

Like the clamshell style, the Vintage Kitchen Press — hence the name — presses the juice out of the fruit, and, true to promise, offers easy one-handed juicing. The heft and balance of the Press also makes juicing a slightly easier to use — something to consider if strength is an issue.   Unlike a clamshell juicer, the Vintage Kitchen model boast a bigger “basket” — meaning you can juice more at once — and a built-in reservoir with an easy-pour spout.   It’s also damned easy to clean — nothing seems to stick to the FDA-approved powder coating.

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Over the course of the past few months, the Vintage Kitchen Press has become a 12 Bottle Bar staple. If ever we need to juice more than half a lemon, it’s our go-to tool. With its rugged “juice anything” construction and nothing-more-than-what-it-takes-to-do-the-job styling, the Press is the NAS Defender 110 of juicers. That’s high praise — or is it? As wonderful as the Vintage Kitchen Press is, it comes with one glaring flaw that prevents us from recommending it — the price. Those clamshell citrus presses? You can buy ten or more of them for one Vintage Press. At roughly US $85 — plus another $20 for shipping — the Press, like the Land Rover, suffers from being just too expensive.   We love it, it’s great, everything they said is true — we’d just never buy it at its current price.

When Vintage Kitchen sent us the Press, they informed us that it was designed after a very popular, discontinued style of press — the Wear-Ever (they didn’t offer this, but it’s easy to suss out). With just a few clicks of the mouse, dozens of vintage Wear-Ever presses can be found on sites like Etsy, eBay, and Goodwill.com. Best of all, these go for as little as a clamshell press (but mostly around $20). Given that the original presses were cast aluminum, the odds of finding one in very good condition are very much in your favor.

If the price of the Vintage Press happened to be $40, we’d be handling them out to friends. As it is, the Vintage Kitchen Press seems unfortunately relegated to wedding registries and Christmas wish lists — although, it’s going to have to muscle aside the Defender on mine.

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