Crafthouse Cocktails

Serious cocktails--in a bottle!--from Crafthouse

For years, the best bartenders have preached that there's no substitution for fresh ingredients.

Then sophisticated cocktails went into the barrel. Now, at long last, they're in the bottle.

This is the type of product we usually greet with a raised eyebrow. But Crafthouse Cocktails come from a most reputable source: Charles Joly, an industry vet and current beverage director of The Aviary.

Joly is aware of the stigma: "The 'cocktail' aisle is full of artificial colors, fake flavors and cloying messes," he says. "We feel as if we've reset the bar and created a new tier [of product]."

Based on the first two releases, a ginger-forward Moscow Mule and a refreshing Southside, we agree.

The Moscow Mule–vodka mixed with ginger beer, cane sugar and lime–opens with a satisfying pop and retains its carbonation after several days in the fridge. A classic Southside (gin, mint, sugarcane and lime) isn't carbonated, but we enjoyed cutting the Crafthouse blend with soda and calling it a Southside Fizz.

Both mixtures are strong and sweet, and should be served over ice to dilute and soften the flavors. We took Joly's advice and added fresh garnishes–a sprig of mint, a wheel of lime–for an easy finishing step.

Debuting soon: a bottled Paloma featuring blanco tequila and grapefruit soda that Joly has concocted for the occasion.

This is one case of semi-homemade we can get behind.