Editor’s Note: This ready to drink cocktail was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Back in October 2022, Forbes reported spirit-based ready-to-drink products will pull $11.6 billion in growth over the next five years, and that volume-wise, this category is expected to grow by 24% over the last five years. And a report from Grand View Research said the global ready to drink cocktails market size was valued at 7$82.8 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030.
I’m guessing this growth isn’t the primary reason Crafthouse Cocktails was founded or continues to put out new products, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to continue to be a part of the ready-made cocktail zeitgeist. And Crafthouse folks are quick to differentiate themselves from their canned cocktail rivals. As part of their story, back in 2013 Chicago bar owner and restaurateur Matt Lindner and Global Bartending Champion Charles Joly got together to bottle the same type of from-scratch cocktails Joly was accustomed to creating at the bar, using all-natural ingredients and high-quality small-batch craft spirits from quality producers.
All their cocktails contain no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Crafthouse has also racked up a ton of awards at the San Francisco Spirits Competition over the past ten years.
Crafthouse’s recent release, the Coffee Old Fashioned, is a Midwest endeavor, and celebrates the company’s decade-long existence. It’s made from seven barrels of Michigan’s Traverse City Whiskey Co.’s aging stock. According to Craft Spirits magazine, Traverse City used a blend of blend of straight bourbons with two high-rye mash bills ranging from two to five years old. It’s combined with bitters from Chicago’s Dark Matter Coffee, and spices and cacao from Chicago and Mexico-based Sleep Walk Chocolateria.
Crafthouse recommends the Coffee Old Fashioned be chilled or served over ice with an orange peel garnish. It’s 51.2 proof and retails for about $40.
We review Crafthouse Cocktails Coffee Old-Fashioned, a ready to drink cocktail blend of 2-5 year old whiskeys, bitters, spices and cacao. (image via Crafthouse Cocktails)
Tasting Notes:Crafthouse Cocktails Coffee Old Fashioned
Vital stats: A blend of 2–5-year-old whiskeys from Traverse City Whiskey Co., bitters from Chicago’s Dark Matter Coffee, and spices and cacao from Chicago and Mexico-based Sleep Walk Chocolateria; 51.2 proof; about $40.
Appearance: I can’t judge this like a regular whiskey in the glass because it’s a batched cocktail. But if you’re interested in what it looks like in my glass, it looks like Coke that’s had ice melted in it–sort of a flat brown. Or like an iced coffee without the ice (I tried this neat, but slightly chilled).
Nose: This definitely has the coffee smell. Heavy coffee. It smells less like an Old Fashioned and more like an espresso martini. I don’t mind that. I like the smell of coffee. But this is supposed to be an old fashioned, and I don’t smell whiskey in the slightest. It smells like a just-finished mug of coffee when you stick your snoot inside looking for the last few drops.
Palate: I really wanted to like this because of the apparent integrity and pedigree of the company and those who founded it. Also, it would make the first pre-made cocktail that I enjoyed.
But this tastes off, somehow, to me. As much as I wish it did taste like an Old Fashioned, it does not. To me, it tastes like coffee that someone snuck whiskey into and then you wandered away from your mug and allowed it to get cold. Maybe if you like a boozy iced coffee (try drinking this over ice at first like they recommend) this is totally your jam. But this just tastes sort of stale and old to me.
Nutrition experts like to say that frozen or canned veggies are just as good or even better than fresh. I feel like the same sort of preservation methods just don’t work well for cocktails for me. I want them fresh.
Final Thoughts: I respect what they’re doing, and the fact they’ve been around a decade means they’re doing something right, but pre-made dranks are just not for me. Plus I got coffee burps which was unpleasant.
A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor...