Ready-to-drink and pre-bottled cocktails have exploded in popularity over the past few years, with the pandemic providing a boost to this already burgeoning market during the period when bars and restaurants were closed. This trend continues on, with some high-end establishments launching their own products, the latest of which comes from NYC fine dining fixture Eleven Madison Park.
Eleven Madison Home is the direct-to-consumer arm of the Michelin-starred restaurant, offering items like PB&J, granola, and different kinds of broth. Now the Beverage Collection joins the lineup, a creation of Eleven Madison Park’s beverage director Sebastian Tollius along with input from the restaurant’s chefs. There are six mixers available, each of which combines various herbs and spices with a main fruit component that can be paired with pretty much any spirit you choose—pear, pomegranate, mandarin, green poblano, red currant, and pumpkin seed. There are also two house-made bitters available to purchase that can be used in the same way you might add Angostura or Peychaud’s Bitters to a cocktail—Citrus & Sarsaparilla (meant for lighter drinks), and Chestnut & Hickory (meant for darker, spirit-forward cocktails).
Finally, the Eleven Madison Home Beverage Collection gives a nod to the in-house produced vermouth that’s served at the end of every meal at the restaurant with the inclusion of an NA version of this aperitif. Tollius created this vermouth using a Niagara grape juice base and infusing it with botanicals like wormwood, angelica root, and gentian for a full 24 hours. The suggested serve is a neat pour, but it would work well with seltzer and citrus as well.
This news comes on the heels of another beloved NYC restaurant, Via Carota, launching its own lineup of pre-bottled cocktails. These are not mixers and bitters however, as is the case with the Eleven Madison Park lineup, but ready-to-drink cocktails that come in a range of styles including Martini, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Negroni, and Espresso Martini. We had a chance to sample them, and they definitely stand out in this ever more crowded field that is often mediocre at best. Bars and bartenders have been getting in on the action as well. Sother Teague, owner of New York City’s bitters emporium Amor Y Amargo created his own Driftwood Bitters to sell to consumers. And in Sydney, Australia, Maybe Sammy (which made the 2020 World’s 50 Best Bars list) has bottled drinks like a jasmine Negroni, chamomile Martini, and eucalyptus Gimlet available to bring home to enjoy.
The lesson the restaurants have seem to have taken from the pandemic is that they need to think of themselves of a brand that’s larger than just serving food to people at a single location. To survive future economic shocks, restaurants need to diversify their offerings, and pre-made cocktails are a way to generate more revenue off the good name they’ve built for themselves in the food world.
So don’t be surprised if you see more high-caliber restaurants offering their own RTD options in the coming months (hey, even Chili’s has its Gallon Mar-Go-Rita that you can take home with you). In the meantime, you can find all of the Eleven Madison Home Beverage Collection for sale at the website.