Tap the Bottle

The new wave of bottled cocktails

The next time you sidle up to a bar, don't be surprised if you're asked whether you'd like your cocktail by the glass or if you'd rather see the bottle menu.

Some bars go the bottled route for speed. Others are making them solely for the fun of it, with bartenders dipping into their bags of tricks to shake up what's inside the glass.

Sipping Empellón's bottled Paloma | Bottle caps, straws and tags

It's a wash: Washing the bottle can give an extra jolt of flavor. At Celeste in Chicago, bar manager Fred Sarkis coats each bottle with lime before filling it with the Chelsea Cocktail. The drink, made with celery bitters and gin, is a nod to the Chelsea Football Club, whose fans (naturally) throw celery at their opponents.

The new bubbly: The Chelsea Cocktail is force carbonated too–a nice little gimmick that gives the drinks an old-fashioned soda-pop sense of fun. (Now with booze!) At NYC's Wallflower, Xavier Herit adds a hint of fizz in-bottle to the Adam & Eve, a Calvados- and sherry-based cocktail that gets its tart kick from a cranberry and apple shrub and Verjus.

Large-format fun: Why should single servings have all the fun? When James Syhabout overhauled the menu at Oakland's Hawker Fare to encompass more shared plates, he decided to make the drinking experience communal, too. The restaurant now serves its rum and brandy punch in 750 ml bottles, letting the flavors meld for a day or two before serving. You can order the punch by the glass, too. But why bother?