Ever since I first read about its popularity at the Guardian offices (among other places), my sturdy Chilly’s bottle has been all I needed. I liked the minimalist steel finish and the size, and though we were briefly separated (I left it in my office drawer during the first lockdown), we were eventually reunited, and all was well. But when lockdown restrictions began to lift in late March, two things happened. Firstly, tennis courts were one of the first things to open up — so my boyfriend and I, desperate for something to do, decided to sign up to use the tennis courts near my flat. Socialising outside our household was allowed again, but only outdoors — which meant long walks in lieu of grabbing a drink in a cosy pub.
By the end of April, I was aware my regular-size Chilly’s wasn’t cutting it for either of these activities. We’d get through our bottle of water 15 minutes into a tennis game. I also suspected my long afternoons walking with friends might be more fun with a snifter of batch-made Negronis or, as the weather slowly improved, a glug of Chardonnay. I recalled a friend who had a mammoth-size water bottle and inquired of the make; unfortunately, given her work in corporate hospitality, it was branded with the name of a client and we couldn’t deduce where it came from. Undeterred, I took to Amazon specifically to look for a 750 milliliter-size water bottle (750 milliliter meaning it would fit a bottle of wine with no problem). One caught my eye almost immediately — a matte-black flask by a Japanese brand called Kankei. Not only did the minimalist design remind me of a Chilly’s, but better still, it was just £16 — half the price of a Chilly’s bottle in the same size. I ordered it immediately.
It was still nippy outside when the Kankei flask arrived, so I road-tested it with water (the 750-milliliter capacity can fit an entire Brita jug’s worth). The water stays cool and crisp, even after several hours out of the fridge (or left in the bag with my tennis kit). I’d estimate the longest it sat around was about six or seven hours, and even then the water was perfectly cold. Next, I tried it on a trip to the seaside. In May, we’d gone to Broadstairs to escape the city (and to sample the much-buzzed fritto misto at Flotsam and Jetsam), and for the journey home, instead of lugging a few M&S canned cocktails in my bag, I decanted a bottle of Rioja I’d picked up from Affinity Brew on the way back to the station. Like the water, the wine stayed chilled, and we drank it on the way back to London. Even though we were drinking out of Pret takeaway cups, and our train hit a signal failure near Sittingbourne, we felt like we were watching the sunset from the terrace at Forza Wine. Soon, the Kankei came with me everywhere, from picnics in the park and backyard BBQs to lazy afternoon walks with friends. Aware that not every occasion calls for a heavy dose of alcohol, I even started bringing cold brew on morning walks (I also developed a recipe for decaffeinated espresso martinis for Sunday night strolls).
I’ve gone on to use it for storing cocktails, like old-fashioneds and Negronis; ahead of a sleeper train to Cornwall this summer, I’m planning on decanting a batch of Cosmos for the journey. And while it’s great for cold brew, I’d suggest filtering your brew twice before decanting — you can sometimes get a gritty coffee sediment from steeping in cold water. It might not be as status-y as other bottles on the market (unlike Naglene, there’s no Aime Leon Dore collab in the works), and it’s less colourful than the eclectic offerings by Chilly’s. But for a fraction of the price, it’s a dependable flask that can keep all manner of things cold.
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