A ‘Fresh’ Approach to Bottled Cocktails

Ross Gardiner
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There are always going to be scores of entrepreneurs trying to create solutions for problems that don’t necessarily exist as fiercely as they’d like them to. The $100 e-credit card that links to all (that’s right, all of your two credit cards) was recently lambasted by Gawker for its blatant lack of relevance to the average consumer. It clearly showed the disparity that exists between what Tech Valley often thinks people should have and what people actually want to have. 

Bottled cocktails fall awkwardly into both categories. On the one hand they provide an effortless, efficient solution to making cocktails for people who want to drink a fancy cocktail without having to do much. Yet on the other hand they are an affront to creativity and craft, removing the drinker further still from the fluids that pulse through his liver, imparting absolutely no knowledge of composition in the process.

But in contrast to the old dump and chug from Jose and Skinnygirl, small companies like Crafthouse Cocktail, High West and Stirrings are developing a line of batched cocktails that allow people to enjoy a decent drink in their own home without having to invest $40 in a bottle of Cointreau that will take thirty years to consume.

The idea has been around for a while but the approach is certainly, for lack of a better word, fresh. Rather than hitting the clapped out ’80s cocktails heavy on coconut, pineapple and blue, the new wave are going down the classic cocktail route, making things like Palomas, Mules and Manhattans. They recognize the new cocktail audience’s aversion towards E numbers and artificial coloring agents and have sought to create products that replicate the taste of the classic cocktails precisely yet also naturally go out-of-date.

‘We wanted to take what we do at the bar and replicate it as closely as we could in the bottle,” said Charles Joly, chief mixologist for Crafthouse cocktail and rock star bartender of The Aviary. And while his approach to the creation of batched cocktails is admirable, learning how to put your own drinks together and build a complex flavor from the sum of fresh ingredients is a joy. And it certainly can’t be found in a pre-made bottle.

I’m biased, obviously. I have to justify my own existence with defiance if nothing else. But I’m certainly not alone in disliking the idea of a daiquiri being poured out of a bottle that originated in a factory, traveled on a pallet and sat on the shelf of a supermarket for a long, unconcerned minute. But then I also understand that buying a mixing tin, a spoon, a strainer, one bottle of liquor, one bottle of liqueur and a couple of juices is a lot to ask if someone just wants a quick margarita. It makes the Jose Cuervo and mixer bumper set appear very difficult to ignore.

But with companies like Crafthouse and Stirrings ensuring that everything in their products is completely natural and extremely well-composed, it’s certainly good for the alcohol industry to have an alternative. And while being involved in a drink’s creation or watching it composed by an expert in front of you is invaluable to your appreciation and education, it is hard to dismiss the prospect of a more accessible, affordable alternative to paying $15 dollars for a drink. 

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