Margaritas in a bottle, cosmos in a can, or daiquiris in a pouch, we’ve seen it all. Usually they’re full of sugar, lack flavor and taste nothing like the cocktails we love. Ready-to-drink options are nothing compared to the drinks that we order at our favorite bars but Charles Joly might be getting closer to the real thing.
The famed bartender teamed up with friend and nightlife veteran, Matt Lindner, and created Crafthouse Cocktails. For years the pair fielded requests from patrons about drink recipes and how to recreate the cocktails they ordered in bars. Joly knew there was a need for a premium ready-to-drink option and so he set out to make one, and ended up with three. Crafthouse Cocktails debuted in Chicago at the end of July with two flavors: Moscow Mule and Southside. A Paloma option will follow next month. The cocktails are served in 750 ml bottles, much bigger than your typical ready-to-drink options.
So what else makes these different from the sticky, sickeningly sweet ones that are out there now? Recently named American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail, Joly made sure that every ingredient going into the Crafthouse bottles was something he would use at his own bar. No fake syrups, no cheap alcohol. The Moscow Mule, for example, features vodka from a small distillery in upstate New York with real lime juice and homemade ginger beer. Sounds like something you would get behind a bar, not in a bottle.
Crafthouse will stay in Chicago for now. Joly and Lindner hope to expand nationally once popularity increases. The $20 bottles have about six cocktails in them and have a snap top closure to keep ingredients fresh. Compared to a six-pack of premixed cocktails (about $7.99) they’re on the pricey side but when you’re paying $12 for a Paloma at a bar, they’re worth it.
If you’re looking for something easy to serve at your next party but still want the quality of a classic cocktail, we suggest Crafthouse. We haven’t tried them yet but these might be the ready-to-drink cocktails that make their way onto our shelves.