As a cocktail drinker, I often find myself reaching toward my liquor cabinet to make something simple before realizing I don't have the ingredients required for my intended nightcap. Having a bar stacked with bitters, vermouths, and liqueurs can be expensive and is usually acquired over years of one-off purchases. However, if you want a cocktail at home without all the fuss, the Cocktail Collection has your back once again this winter with its pre-mixed cocktails.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council, pre-mixed and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails grew from making up 8% of the liquor market in 2021, to 13% in 2022. That jump indicates an increased public interest in this type of beverage and that's where the Cocktail Collection comes in. Joining the existing lineup of Bulleit Manhattan and Bulleit Old Fashioned, are three brand-new ready-to-drink bottles of some of the world's most classic cocktails. I was lucky enough to get to sample the Kettle One Cosmopolitan, the Kettle One Espresso Martini, and Tanqueray Negroni to give my thoughts on each of the line's new 21+ products.
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What Does The Kettle One Cosmopolitan Taste Like?
Let's start with the first Ketel One offering: The classic, elegant Cosmopolitan. To be completely honest, this was one of the three cocktails I tried that I had the least experience with. Vodka is not my go-to liquor — or at least it has not been for many, many years — but there are some drinks, like the Espresso Martini or Moscow Mule, where I can get jive with it. On their own, though, I don't dislike cranberry juice or triple sec, the cocktail's two other ingredients.
The pre-mixed Ketel One Cosmo was pretty tasty, but it ended up being my least favorite of the three cocktails I tried. Although it's only three well-mixed ingredients, I could pick out each one in every sip. I guess you could say that it's not a very harmonious or blended cocktail in that sense, but it does check all the boxes for being a Cosmopolitan.
What Does The Kettle One Espresso Martini Taste Like?
The second Ketel One offering was the Espresso Martini, which is probably the most polarizing among the cocktails sampled. This hybrid of coffee and alcohol is made with Ketel One vodka and coffee liqueur. Despite not being much of a regular Martini drinker I, for one, am a fan of this cocktail and thought this was a decent version, although I have had better ones before. While I preferred this over the Cosmopolitan, the former goes down a lot easier as a casual drink.
The Ketel One pre-mixed Espresso Martini is a sweet and coffee-forward drink that, texturally, is a bit thicker than your average alcoholic beverage. The bittersweet interplay of the elements in coffee liqueur gives it an appealing and mature taste. Still, I can't help but admit that this is a cocktail that's enhanced by high-quality ingredients. I'll just say that Ketel One wouldn't be my first choice of vodkas if given a wider selection to choose from.
What Does The Tanqueray Negroni Taste Like?
If you celebrate Negroni week, this is a must-buy. The Tanqueray Negroni was my favorite of the Cocktail Collection drinks I tasted, admittedly perhaps due to personal preferences. The classic Italian cocktail has a different sort of bittersweetness to the Espresso Martini, due to its use of vermouth and a bitter Italian liqueur (typically Campari). In terms of tasting both correct and good, this pre-made version fully nailed it.
Unlike the other two cocktails I tried, which were served cold in a chilled glass, a Negroni is served over ice. I recommend sticking to this usual way of doing things if you try this pre-made Tanqueray Negroni, in order to keep the beverage in the right balance. This too might have helped the Negroni feel like the most easily drinkable of the three cocktails I tried. Regardless of why, it went down smoothly and is the bottle I'll be reaching for again in the shortest amount of time.
Where Can You Buy These Pre-Mixed Cocktails And How Much Do They Cost?
All three of these ready-to-drink cocktails are on store shelves nationwide already. Each of the beverages comes in two sizes, 375 milliliters and 750 milliliters. The suggested retail price, according to the Cocktail Collection, is $13.99 and $24.99 respectively. Availability will vary based on region, but searching online I found that liquor stores and delivery services near me carry the products, although the latter is going to be your surest bet for getting your hands on them. I also found that some nationwide chains like Target will be carrying them as well, although some seem to have limited availability.
Those suggested prices may not necessarily reflect what you actually pay. On Drizly, for example, the smaller bottle of the Espresso Martini goes for $12.99, while the larger 750 ml bottle is only $19.99 (this is before shipping and fees, of course). On the same site, you can find that the 375 ml bottle of the Tanqueray Negroni is selling for $11.99, while the larger one costs $22.99. As you can see, these prices will vary depending on where you go for your purchase.
All in all, impressions of the latest entries to the Cocktail Collection lineup were overwhelmingly positive. Were these ready-made cocktails the best example of each one that I've ever had? Of course not, but for the price and how much effort is being saved I think that these are well worth picking up. These are great cocktails for the holiday season and I imagine they'll be a hit this winter, if you want to make your party planning this holiday season go a little smoother, or you just want to show up to the function with something a little special and unexpected.
If I had to choose just one of the three, I would recommend the Tanqueray Negroni, which really hit all the right notes of the drink. I enjoyed the Ketel One vodka beverages as well and fully intend to serve them to impress guests next time I have company over.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.