Australia has a long-established obsession with pre-mixed booze. It's perhaps best expressed in our strange love affair with canned cola spiked with stuff that's pretending to be rum or bourbon. We're such connoisseurs of pre-mixers that you can now find Irish whiskey enhanced with 'natural kola extract' in a can, or Pina Colada cocktails in handy two litre casks.
In our cocktail bars, though, it's thankfully a more sophisticated story. Pre-batching or bottling cocktails has become a common practice in recent years, having migrated to our shores from London's 69 Colebrooke Row and Ryan Chetiyawardana's White Lyan; the latter spawned the influential Mr Lyan bottled cocktail range.
During Sydney Bar Week last year, the Inaugural Bottled Cocktail Invitational was even kicked-off, where a number of Australian bars, including Eau De Vie, Brisbane's Maker, and Melbourne's The Everleigh submitted bottled concoctions that were judged at Sydney's Dead Ringer – also a proponent of batching and bottling cocktails.
The perfect serve
So, what are the benefits of bottling and batching cocktails? Consistency, convenience, less wastage and faster service, to name a few.
But another side benefit has also trickled out of this development, as some bars and drinks companies now offer up quality, perfectly mixed bottled drinks for folks to enjoy at home.
And even though a part of me thinks we should stop being so goddamn lazy and learn how to make cocktails on our own, another part of me pines for one of these on a hot afternoon or at the end of a rough day when the last thing you feel like doing is sourcing quality ingredients and mixing a drink.
If you want to give them a try, here's a few quality bottled cocktails to be on the lookout for:
The Aussie Tipple Company
Launched last week, The Aussie Tipple Company has released a stellar line-up of bottled cocktails designed by Australian bartenders. But even more importantly, all of the cocktails use spirits from some of our best small Aussie spirits producers, with all other ingredients sourced locally. The current range includes a White Rye Espresso Martini, with booze made by the inimitable Peter Bignell at his Belgrove Distillery; a Rum Old Fashioned with rum supplied by the Black Gate Distillery in Mendooran; and two gin cocktails – a Dry Martini and a Negroni – where the base gin hails from the Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst. It's a great way to support our small, local producers and each cocktail is available in either 100ml single serves or one litre share bottles.
The Everleigh Bottling Co.
The Everleigh is one of Australia's most distinguished cocktail bars. Based in inner Melbourne, their approach to mixing drinks is meticulous, to the point where they've even created the Navy Strength Ice Co. to supply their bars with perfect ice. In 2015, The Everleigh Bottling Co. launched four bottled classics – a Manhattan, Martini, Negroni and an Old Fashioned – and these are now available to purchase at sister venue Heartbreaker in the CBD or at select retailers.
New World Projects – Cask Strength Boulevardier
The New World Whisky Distillery, producers of the Starward Malt Whisky brand, has become renowned for its innovative experiments over the years. But this Cask Strength Boulevardier, made with Campari, sweet vermouth and malt whisky from their solera vat, is the most recent release in their bottled cocktail range. It's a seriously tasty number that can be enjoyed year-round.
Hochstadters Slow & Low Rock and Rye
For something a bit different, you could try this riff an old-school Rock & Rye –effectively an Old Fashioned in a bottle. It was often sold in 19th century pharmacies as a tonic and also found its way into many American bars. But in this case, The Cooper Spirits Co. have taken straight rye whiskey, sweetened it with raw honey and a pinch of rock candy, added some bitters and then infused it with orange peels. Not really to my taste, but it's a bold an interesting option if you've got a sweet tooth.
High West The Barreled Manhattan / Boulevardier
These two bottled whiskey cocktails first hit Australian shores a few years back and were positively received when they did. They differ from others mentioned here in that the High West crew have also barrel-aged the drinks in quality American oak casks to add further depth and mellow the spicier notes. An even though they can be hard to find, they're well worth seeking out.
Check out the gallery above to see the premix cocktails you'll be loving in 2017. And don't forget to let us know what you think of the premix movement in the comments section below.
A professional barman in one of Australia's most revered whisky establishments, Luke McCarthy has also travelled the world to learn more about the spirits he serves. The result is two parts drinks culture and one part global trends, served with a dash of critical assessment. His book, 'The Australian Spirits Guide', was recently published by Hardie Grant Books.
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