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Better by the Batch: Bottled Cocktails Are Where It’s AT

on 20/01/14 at 2:54 pm

Booze News

imagesOften the best option in a busy bar, bottled cocktails are now bringing pro-quality mixology home.

AT THE NEW London cocktail emporium White Lyan, you won’t find lemons or limes on the bar, nor any ice stored behind it. Every mixed drink on the establishment’s ambitious list is made and bottled before opening and then stored at the optimal chill for consumption. “We spend a lot of time doing prep,” said managing partner Iain Griffiths. “We’ve got no normal back bar, just very big fridges.”

Bottled cocktails have been catching on steadily in recent years across the bartending universe, in tandem with a surge of mixed drinks aged in barrels. The trend is even finding its way to home bars via new retail lines created by bartenders and distillers.

This mixed-drink delivery method is not quite as novel as it might seem. “In the mid-19th century, bars would bottle up their cocktails and even offer them for sale,” said drinks historian David Wondrich. “If you were traveling you might go and get a bottle of cocktails, to have your morning dram while you were away.” Top-shelf bottled mixed drinks pretty much died off when Prohibition began, but a number of factors have brought them back in a big way.

For Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan, bottling is about “total control, about taking the time beforehand to make the best drink we can.” Mr. Chetiyawardana brings a lab geek’s approach to crafting cocktails, mixing spirits bought in bulk (the menu doesn’t list any brands) with offbeat ingredients. His “Bone-Dry” Martini features a tincture made from chicken bones that are roasted and dissolved in phosphoric acid; his Sazerac contains a touch of ambergris, the whale secretion used in perfume production. Those drinks and others get a final flourish before service—a spritz of soda, say, or maybe a rinse of the glass with an additional liqueur.