Editor’s Note: This kit was provided to us as a review sample by Liquor Lab. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
It’s no secret. I enjoy a good cocktail. They are fun to make, fun to drink, and even more fun to dissect. For people who have less working knowledge in this realm, there’s the Liquor Lab Cocktail Experience Kit.
The whiskey kit includes most everything you need to make 12 old fashioneds and 12 whiskey sours (more on that later), except the whiskey. My kit was accompanied by a bar tools kit as well.
So one recent Thursday I invited my most stouthearted friend to join me for some drinks. I gamely scanned the QR code to access our mini cocktail lab videos and we watched as Chicago bartender Freddie Sarkis explained in great detail how to make an old fashioned.
I repeated the steps from memory as there was no recipe card to go by (the box says one should be inside, but there wasn’t in mine). His ratio was the same one I use, so it was delicious. However, he recommended serving over more small ice, and I tried it. I emergency strained our drinks after the first minute so they wouldn’t get over diluted. Close call.
I went through the same steps with the whiskey sour, whose most fascinating ingredient was crystallized lemon juice. Freddie urged me to add egg white to my sours, which begs the question “If you’re going to give me crystallized lemon juice, why not powdered egg whites?” Maybe to keep the kit vegan? Anyhow, I totally disagreed with his recipe for the sour. But for journalistic integrity, I made it his way. And I really liked it. Drinking AND personal growth.
First some observations: the Filthy brand amarena cherries were really delicious. However, the kit was for 12 drinks, then the video used two cherries per cocktail, and there were 12 cherries; somewhat inconsistent. The bitters were weak but I liked the flavor.
I wasn’t thrilled with the number of preservatives in both syrups. Nobody wants moldy simple, I understand, but there are dozens of syrup makers out there who use at most citric or tartaric acid – actual food substances. The crystallized juice is a great solution and lightyears better than the pasteurized shelf-stable stuff. I laughed at the tiny shaker included with the tools, but it worked surprisingly well.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience. I could see buying this for someone just getting into cocktailing at home. Both drinks are basic and a good place from which to start riffing and figuring out your own favorite way. The videos are well-produced and thorough. At $55 retail, the price is steep for what you get, considering you still need to add a bottle of whiskey. So it goes with gift items.
Although, if you’re responsible for entertaining a multi-national corporation and money is no object, you can even get the kits and the class infused with your branding and messaging (called ‘Touchpoint Gifts’).
In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...