Cocktail boxes or gift packs are always a winner when it comes to gifts for the cocktail lover in your life, but as simple as they are for us to pick up, the assembly is a much more detailed process. It may only take a few minutes to make the drink they produce, but the box (from concept through to development) has taken months.
To get an idea of what this involves, we spoke to Anna Gorovoy, co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at cocktail kit subscription service, Shaker & Spoon who collaborated with the whiskey brands Aberfeldy, Teeling and Angel’s Envy.
This year, the four brands joined forces to develop a Hot Toddy Box, which features three recipes crafted by expert mixologists from across the United States.
Now, as any whiskey aficionado knows, these three brands exemplify the distinctive tasting notes from their respective regions of Scotland, Ireland and Kentucky.
Think of it like a journey around the globe through whisk(e)y but don’t worry, Shaker & Spoon has ensured that no matter what your whiskey choice, your skill level or preparation choice (hot to cold), there would be something in the kit for everyone.
“Working with world-class bartenders, Shaker & Spoon has always aimed to create unique, original, yet easy-to-follow recipes that highlight the spirit category of the month with a variety of styles of cocktail-making,” said Gorovoy.
“We ensure that easy to follow how-to videos are available, which we believe go a long way to setting first-time cocktailers up for success. Likewise, the recipes and techniques are also engaging for those who have more experience under their belts.”
Gorovoy explained that whisk(e)y is always one of the brands most popular offerings, so they like to focus on that category as the holidays approach, and the idea of a “choose your own adventure” box with toddy variations felt like a winner
“The iconic flavours of the toddy—whether served hot or cold—are perfect for the season,” explained Gorovoy. “Additionally, the toddy is a perfect cocktail to highlight the unique characteristics of each whisk(e)y, allowing for an exciting flavour journey that highlights whisk(e)y from these three different regions.”
With the aim of bringing the same types of techniques and ingredients as can be found behind the bar of raft establishments into the home, the choice of bartenders is vitally important. For this box, the brand chose bartenders Annie Pierce, Chris Frierson and Nick Hogan to create variations that everyone can enjoy.
“Each bartender has independently crafted their own take on the toddy,” Gorovoy continued. “They selected ingredients that would interact with the various whisk(e)y marques in different ways, ultimately creating three very unique cocktails.
“The fact that these cocktails are designed to be served either hot or cold, and with any of the three whisk(e)y categories, makes them extremely versatile. Depending on personal preference, the variations actually allow each at-home-bartender the ability to create six different potential cocktails from any one recipe.”
Nicholas Hogan is a bartender, a cofounder of Mover & Shaker Co (a bartending-apparel brand focused on life in the hospitality industry), and an Angel’s Envy Whiskey Guardian in Jacksonville, FL (his hometown), created the radiantly red Rough Diamond cocktail.
Relying on delicate rosehip and bold blackberries and currants, the drink has a soothing sensation of floral and fruity flavour that further explores the outdoors with orange bitters and a hint of Douglas fir.
As the first woman to win Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition in 2018 and a co-owner of the Columbus, OH, cocktail haven Law Bird Bar, Annie Pierce was looking to evoke a Gaelic river charmer with her drink, The Winter Water Sprite.
A tempting mix of rich, natural brown sugar–sweetness of dates and figs, with a magical finishing touch of anise-like fennel for good measure, the drink can be interpreted as an old fashioned or chosen to be warmed up as the chamomile-infused whisk(e)y takes flight on clouds of aromatic steam.
Raised in kitchens by his executive chef father, Christopher Frierson has allowed his background to shape his approach behind the bar. In search of the perfect cocktail, his loom standing career has taken him from the Deep South to the West Coast and all points in between. But his heart, it seems, lies in Dublin After Dark
Frierson’s Dublin After Dark hot toddy soothes with a warm mix of whisk(e)y, ginger-turmeric syrup, and fresh lemon, but then miraculously ramps up to enliven an evening when shaken with ice for a perky sour. With similarities to the modern classic, the Penicillin, this cocktail hits many of the same bracing beats.
Shaker & Spoon started working on this box in the early summer and had bartenders working up recipes before the fall. Gorovoy explained that it usually takes 1–2 months to conceptualise an idea and get the bartenders onboard, then1–2 months of recipe development for the bartenders.
That is then followed with another 1–2 months where the recipes are finalised internally and the sourcing of the components and ingredients are done. After that, the next step requires the manufacture of house-made ingredients (in this case syrups and an extract) and assembling and shipping out the boxes.
“All in all we have a number of teams that work on each box,” explained Gorovoy. “We have an internal team who sets the monthly themes, chooses the bartenders, and coordinates with them to develop their recipes. Those recipes are then tested internally by an additional team to ensure they meet quality standards.
Everything is then handed to the sourcing team, who work on getting the components and raw ingredients needed to execute the recipe and, finally, a production team to scale up the bartenders’ recipes.
Lastly, once that’s all finalised, there’s the task of writing copy and proper instructions for each recipe,’ Gorovoy continued. “We also need to create photographic assets, shooting and editing how-to videos, and engaging Shaker & Spoon’s enthusiastic community around the spirits and monthly theme.”
Although it may take you only minutes to make and drink a cocktail from a box such as Shaker & Spoon’s Hot Toddy box, it’s amazing how much actually goes into its concept and production. But as Gorovoy points out, it’s all done in the hope that people will get a better understanding of the versatility of (in this case) whisk(e)y.
“We want consumers to take a journey across the globe, sampling different whisk(e)y from three very different regions to see the impact that different water, ageing and distillation processes can have on a spirit. And then, of course, how to take that whisk(e)y and use it in a variety of drinks that will delight the palette”.
Conveniently, if you want to make any of the variations again, Shaker & Spoon have a Make More Store where nearly all of the individual ingredients can be purchased
Shaker & Spoon’s December box will be available for order Dec. 6-31st via shakerandspoon.com