Behind the bar at Empire State South in Atlanta, there's a little fridge stocked with soda-looking glass bottles. What you'd assume are Cherry Cokes are actually a bourbon-based Negroni variation. The "Boulevard Hey," a take on the Boulevardier—Campari, dry vermouth, and bourbon—is one of three cocktails ($12-14) that ESS hand-bottles from large batches.
After ordering one, the eight-ounce bottle was de-capped and handed to me in a matter of seconds. Just like that; no mixing or muddling required. My bar buddy who ordered a cocktail "from scratch" had another ten minutes to wait for his drink to arrive. Carbonated and crisp, and just bitter enough, the bottled Boulevardier tasted like a "serious cocktail" but the experience of drinking it from a frosty bottle felt like this was its laidback soda fountain cousin.
We've been seeing hand-bottled cocktails around: at Clyde Common in Portland and at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic a few weekends ago. Have you noticed them? Tried any? Like the bottle experience, or prefer a cocktail made to order?