With top-notch mixologists turning their hands to pre-bottled cocktails, we’re now able to enjoy expertly created drinks in the comfort of our own home. Ideal for when you want to spend more time with your guests, and less time measuring, shaking and stirring, these pre-prepared cocktails only require a clean glass. We were impressed with the added herbs and botanicals found in many of these, which created a far more interesting end result then you’d expect from a simple pour. All cocktails benefitted from being served ice cold, whether that was by pouring over ice or given a quick shake before drinking. Many also had versatility – add prosecco or tonic to some and you’ll get a lighter, longer drink, making it go further.
So whether you’re entertaining or just relaxing after a long week – these pre-bottled cocktails give you all the flavour of a top-notch cocktail without having to leave the house.
The team at Crummbs had the hard job of putting these tipples to the test…
1. Mr Lyan's Diamond Rickey, 21.8%: £24.95 for 50cl, The Whisky Exchange
Created by Ryan Chetiyawardana (named as Best International Bartender at the Tales of the Cocktails Awards in 2015), there’s nothing we’d rather drink on a hot summer’s day than this. A blend of Mr Lyan’s very own gin, a lime and almond liqueur and grapefruit distillate, the Diamond Rickey is best enjoyed ice cold. It tastes like the absolute best gin and tonic you’ve ever tasted, without the faff off measuring shots or adding any herbs or garnishes. Ideal as a fresh aperitif, you can also add tonic water or prosecco, but we preferred it neat over lots of ice.
2. World of Zing Bordeaux Barrel Aged Negroni, 28%: £24.95 for 50cl, World of Zing
A winner of the Gold Medal at the Spirits Business Masters, this is a spectacular take on the classic negroni. Handcrafted using Tanqueray Gin, Sacred Rosehip Bitter Liqueur, Martini Rosso Vermouth and Zing Negroni Bitters, it’s then left to age in a Bordeaux wine cask to develop its sophisticated taste. The result is a bitter-sweet, aromatic cocktail with depth. Simply pour a 75ml serve over ice and garnish with a wedge of orange or grapefruit if you like. It can also be topped up with soda or prosecco for a lighter version. You should get about seven serves from this 50cl bottle.
3. Cotswolds Espresso Martini, 29%: £30.35 for 70cl, The Whisky Exchange
You may expect your espresso martini to be a rich chocolate brown colour but the Cotswolds Distillery version is completely clear. It starts by making a cold-brew using locally roasted beans from the Monsoon Estates Coffee Company. This is then distilled along with a touch of orange peel, coriander seeds and a top secret spice blend. This results in a smooth cocktail that espresso martini fans will love. Keep the bottle in the fridge (or even freezer) to ensure an ice-cold pour.
4. Aske Stephenson Cigar and Coffee Manhattan, 32%: £33.95 for 50cl, The Whisky Exchange
The ultimate after dinner drink, Aske Stephenson has created this twist on a classic Manhattan. Containing rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, tobacco-infused cognac and coffee bitters, it’s then sealed with a coffee scented wax top. Keep things authentic and serve chilled in a martini glass.
5. Mac & Wild Black Watch 50cl, 23.7%: £31.17 for 50cl, Master of Malt
Scottish game restaurant Mac & Wild has launched a range of pre-bottled cocktails to showcase Scottish herbs, botanicals and of course, whisky. The Black Watch is made using spicy Talisker 10 Year Old Whisky from the Isle of Skye, as well as coffee liqueur, amaro (an Italian herbal liqueur), Edinburgh’s own artisan roast Janszoon coffee beans and cold brew. The result is a rich, after-dinner tipple that is sure to perk you up.
6. M&S Long Limoncello Collins 50cl, 20%: £12 for 50cl, Marks and Spencer
A cheeky twist on a traditional Tom Collins, this summery cocktail still has a gin base but instead of using lemon juice, M&S adds Italian limoncello. The cognac and thyme add a depth of flavour to this refreshing cocktail, which makes for the perfect picnic aperitif. For an extra cold serve, give it a quick shake with ice.
7. The Martinez Cocktail from The Handmade Cocktail Company, 36.1%: £25.95 for 70cl, Master of Malt
The Martinez cocktail – a blend of gin, sweet vermouth, bitters and maraschino liqueur – is what lead to the dry martini. However, it is of course a great cocktail in its own right. The Handmade Cocktail Company uses “vintage” recipes that you simply pour over ice, stir (don’t shake!) and strain into your glass of choice with a twist of lemon. Each bottle is dated with the cocktail’s year of “birth”.
8. Drink Factory Classico Negroni 700ml, 18.9%: £45 for 70cl, Harvey Nichols
Previously only available by the glass at Soho’s Bar Termini, you can now replicate Tony Conigliaro’s legendary negroni at home with this pre-made mix. Created with a traditional blend of London dry gin, Italian vermouth and Italian bitters, it’s then cooked sous-vide at a very low temperature over several hours to create a drink that is almost identical to a bottle-aged cocktail. The end result is a superbly smooth and balanced cocktail. The beautiful, hand-drawn label will brighten up any drinks cabinet.
The Verdict: Pre-bottled cocktails
As you would expect from such a celebrated bartender, Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Diamond Rickey cocktail is head and shoulders above the rest. A stand out aperitif and refreshing choice for summer, we wouldn’t be at all disappointed if we were served this in a bar. This brilliant bottle has layer upon layer of flavour without any of the unnecessary sweetness. For an after-dinner treat, the Cotswolds Espresso Martini is a great aperitif to offer guests.
For more food and drink reviews, chef interviews and recipes, see crummbs.co.uk
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