There’s a million mail-order cocktail kits on the market these days. Liquor Lab is the latest to join the fray, and while it’s a very gimmicky affair, I can see how it might appeal to some drinkers.
First: Liquor Lab is a place (there are locations in Nashville and Louisville), and while I’ve never been to one, it looks a bit like a Color Me Mine for booze. You show up with your friends, and a mixologist teaches you how to make a couple of drinks. Fun stuff for a night out on the town with the boys or girls.
With Covid-19 still shuttering the physical locations, Liquor Lab went virtual. Now you can have this experience, at home, via a shipped collection of ingredients and video instruction. You can actually purchase the video instruction separately, for $10, or for $45 you can get the ingredients to make the cocktails, booze not included.
The Whiskey Experience Kit covers two classic drinks: the whiskey sour and the old fashioned. In the box you’ll find Liquor Lab’s special-brewed aromatic bitters, a big bottle of simple syrup, a smaller bottle of demerara syrup, crystalized lemon juice (just add water!), individually packaged cocktail cherries, and a plastic measuring device/jigger. Again, you bring your own whiskey. A bottle of bourbon or rye will do the trick.
From there, buyers are directed to scan a QR code that takes them to the video-based masterclass on how to mix the drinks. 5 minutes for the whiskey sour, 8 for the old fashioned. There are no printed instructions to make the drinks in the kit, and while Freddie Sarkis turned out to be a delightful fellow to watch for 13 minutes, I felt that the pacing was on the slow side. (For both drinks, mind you, he goes off script with additions like egg white and citrus peel that you’ll need to provide yourself.) Still, if I kept a guest waiting 8 minutes for a three-ingredient cocktail like the old fashioned, I think I’d be cast out of bartending duty. And while it’s fun to watch, having printed instructions would make this kit — which contains ingredients for at least 5 or 6 of each drink — a bit longer lived.
Given there’s no liquor included, $45 is asking a lot for the kit. Crystallized lemon isn’t a bad thing, as I’ve discovered in other kits like these, but it’s not really the same as fresh lemon juice. The measuring vessel, however, is what irked me the most. A cheap plastic affair, its gradations are extremely hard to read.
Liquor Lab has a good concept here, but it still needs refining to merit mainstream appeal. Hopefully the live classes will resume soon.
B / $45 / liquorlab.com