Review: Sunday’s Finest Gold Fashioned Bottled Cocktail

Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by Sunday’s Finest. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

Sometimes, your desires are filet mignon and your effort level is bargain hot dog. Sometimes, gathering up whiskey, sugar and bitters is too much work (OK, and an orange. It’s the orange that does it). Sometimes, you’ll pay for the privilege of doing as little as possible.

By this point, we’ve all seen dozens of iterations on the ready-to-drink cocktail. If you know anything about the market, you know producers are trying to spend pennies on the actual liquid, as the margins (especially for canned cocktails) are vanishingly slim. 

What would happen, though, if a producer put that methodology aside and tried to source the very best ingredients for a pourable cocktail? That is the goal of Sunday’s Finest. 

At the helm is Robert Haynes. Haynes has had a varied career skipping back and forth between bar work and production. His first notable post was as bar back at Chicago’s quasi-speakeasy The Violet Hour, a leader of the pre-Prohibition cocktail explosion. Five years from that opening found him creating BËSK wormwood liqueur with Letherbee Distillers. He then opened Analogue, in 2013, which had a storied but tumultuous three-year run.

In 2017 Haynes was back to production with Apologue Liqueurs, making savory and unusual versions of liqueurs and again working to educate the drinking public about under-utilized flavors (persimmon, saffron, aronia). It’s with all this experience that he comes, along with practically everyone else, to the RTD market.

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The 2022 Gold Fashioned starts with a split base of three whiskeys: a nine-year Kentucky bourbon and a six-year Indiana straight whiskey, with, upping the ante on the 2021 release, a 15-year Kentucky bourbon. That mix is sweetened with fair-trade Demerara sugar and layered over with Sunday’s Finest’s own bitters, a combination of gentian, saffron, vanilla, cacao and bitter orange peel, all from good homes. 

After you dispense your cocktail, there is a tiny bit of work to do – spritzing (from a distance of three inches precisely!) with the included orange zest mist: a blend of valencia, navel and blood orange essences in an alcohol base. 

It’s all packaged in a handsome matte blue paper-board box, complete with gold foil lettering and a clever way of locking the bottle in with the zest-mist.

The instructions say to pour over ice, but I found stirring the cocktail and straining to serve up a better way to enjoy it, as leaving it to linger with ice upset the delicate balance of this beverage.

Sunday's Finest Gold Fashioned review

Sunday’s Finest Gold Fashioned (image via Cindy Capparelli/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Sunday’s Finest Gold Fashioned

Vital Stats: A blend of 15-year and nine-year Kentucky straight bourbon, six-year Indiana straight whiskey, sugar and saffron bitters. It clocks in at 84.4 proof. Find a 750mL bottle in select markets for $150.

Appearance: This cocktail is a medium deep orange amber.

Nose: The nose is candied orange crossed with lemon cleaner – in a pleasant way. I couldn’t smell the bitters or whiskey at all over the magic mist.

Palate: On the spectrum of old fashioneds, (well, in my experience, but I’ve put a lot of work into taking a representative sample) it’s sweeter than average: caramelly, with lightly oaky vanilla carried by a central-casting whiskey flavor. I pick up the balancing of the bitters but not saffron. Overall it’s quite smooth.

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Final Thoughts: Sunday’s Finest Gold Fashioned is completely adequate, better than many old fashioneds, but also not revolutionary. The citrus cleaner aroma, though not disagreeable, was dissonant to the whole experience. Would I pony up the cash for my own bar? No, but I find making an old fashioned to my liking pretty simple and I have the ingredients around most of the time. This would be a great gift for that challenging recipient who has everything and not the inclination to pick up a bar spoon.

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Cindy Capparelli

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...