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Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails Hit Shelves

By Paul Leddy in Food on Jul 26, 2013 7:20PM

07_26_13_crafthouse.jpg We are at the middle of the outdoor concert season at places like Millennium Park and Ravinia. While we certainly can join in with our fellow concertgoers drinking wine and beer with our picnic fare, it has always been our secret wish to bring out the cocktail shaker at a venue and start shaking up cocktails for our friends. Sipping Southsides under the stars of Ravinia while listening to Steely Dan...perfect. Drinking Moscow Mules while attending a Grant Park Music Festival concert...glorious.

The problem with shaking those cocktails is the dirty looks from your neighbors and the vicious shushing from the "Quiet Please" ushers as the chika-chika sound emanates from your cocktail shaker. A perfect solution to being able to enjoy cocktails while attending concerts, barbecues and parties around town without the worry and the fuss is hitting Chicago shelves today.

Crafthouse Cocktails is a new product line of bottled cocktails that utilizes fresh, high-quality ingredients in its construction. Cocktails that are being released today are Southside (small batch gin made in Michigan, mint, pure sugar cane and lime) and the Moscow Mule (small batch Vodka from upstate New York, ginger beer, pure cane sugar and lime). Their version of the Paloma (Tequila, grapefruit soda, agave nectar and lime) will be released at a later date.

What sets this product apart from any other bottled cocktail on the market are the people behind it. The line was created by Matt Lindner, partner in Three Headed Productions which includes properties like Drawing Room and bartender Charles Joly. Joly is having one heck of a year in 2013. After taking over the beverage program at The Aviary a year ago, he and his team won the James Beard award for "Outstanding Bar Program" and he just won "Best American Bartender" at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. The pair took two years to develop and test recipes. They also took time to work with a bottler in Montreal that understood the quality that they wanted to achieve.

With the super fresh ingredients, the biggest concern was the stabilization of the citrus in the drinks. Ask any bartender in the city, the shelf-life for any freshly squeezed citrus juice can last just over a day. Joly admits that was a concern, but through pasteurization, having alcohol serve as a preservative, and exposing the product to as little oxygen as possible during the production process. It helps keep the finish product stable for a year.

The 750ml bottle serves approximately 6-4oz cocktails (perfect over ice, by the way) and will be available at Goddess & the Grocer, Olivia’s Market and Binny's Beverage Depot. At Binny's, the Moscow Mule will be available at all 29 locations, while the Southside will be at about 20 locations. Binnys will be running a special through Tuesday, July 30th where the bottles will be sold at $2.00 less than their usual $19.99 retail price (with a Binny's Card).