Better booze, better drinks, less money
If you’ve ever had bottle service in a club, you know that it’s more about sitting at a VIP table than about getting good cocktails. The club charges you at least a 1,000% markup on a rather ordinary bottle of booze and a bunch of average mixers like Coke and orange juice. In a club, you can expect to pay around $350 for a bottle of vodka that would cost you $40 in a liquor store.
But the idea of bottle service is a great one, and it doesn’t have to apply only to clubs. Create your own bottle service at home for your next party or get-together. It’ll be a lot cheaper, and you won’t have to scream to hear each other. Get 10 friends to pitch in $10 each, and you’ll have more than enough money to buy some excellent hooch and better-than-average mixers to last you all evening.
There are more and more distilleries, many of them in the United States, that produce high-quality spirits at reasonable prices. We’ve picked three great bottles — a vodka, a rye whiskey, and a rum — as well as mixers and and easy mixing methods for each. Experiment with different combinations of ingredients to create unique drinks, or go with time-tested combinations. You may accidentally invent your new favorite cocktail.
*Total costs may vary based on where you live and where you shop for ingredients.
Combo #1: Vodka
Death's Door Vodka is very clean and pure, with a light vanilla and pistachio finish.
Champagne or sparkling wine
St. Germain elderflower liqueur
According to our in-house bartending expert, Alexandra Geppert, the formula for making a great mixed drink is as follows: mixer + base spirit + accent flavor in a 5-3-1 proportion. In this case, use St. Germain or lemon juice as your accent drink ingredients. St. Germain is sweeter and more flavorful, whereas the lemon will give you a simpler, sour mixed drink. To keep the cocktail balanced, add something sweet (like St. Germain or simple syrup) every time you add a sour ingredient like lemon juice.
Pour some vodka in a glass with ice, add a little of the St. Germain or lemon, and then top with a juice, Champagne, club soda or any combination. Simple combinations like vodka and grapefruit also make delicious drinks.
$85 (without Champagne)
$105 (with Champagne)
Combo #2: Whiskey
Bulleit Rye Whiskey has sweet, warm, and spicy cinnamon flavors.
Peaches (or other seasonal fruits and berries)
Sugar or simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
It's Whiskey Smash night! The Whiskey Smash is basically whiskey, muddled fruit and mint with a touch of sweet and sour to balance out the flavors. First muddle (mash) up the fruit, simple syrup and lemon juice. Then add the mint, and gently muddle — as a delicate herb, mint needs a gentler touch than the fruit. Add ice, and shake. Strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig or piece of fruit. Drink, and enjoy. Try topping your drink with club soda for a bit of fizz.
Mix and match the fruits. Make your drink as sour or sweet as you want, and experiment with fruits like apricots, raspberries or even apples. You'll want to set out several different mixing glasses, muddlers or wooden spoons for mashing, and have lots of ice on hand.
Combo #3: Rum
Denizen Rum is full-bodied with earthy aromas of tropical fruit.
Lemon and lime wedges
Fruit slices (pineapple, orange, etc)
Think tiki. Rum is the perfect partner to tropical, fruity flavors like mango, citrus and passionfruit. The method here is simple: put some rum in a glass with ice, and top with one or many fruit juices. Squeeze in some lime or lemon juice. Make sure to stir well. Garnish with fruit slices, and — if you're feeling extra festive — a plastic sword or mini-umbrella. You can also throw in some club soda for fizz or to cut the sweetness.
$50 (not including mini-umbrellas or plastic swords)