Crafthouse Cocktails was featured in Crain’s

The following story appeared in Crain’s:


Two local nightlife veterans are launching a line of commercial bottled cocktails next week.

Crafthouse Cocktails is the brainchild of Aviary beverage director Charles Joly, who won a James Beard Award in May and is a finalist for American bartender of the year at Tales of the Cocktails’ Spirited Awards in New Orleans on July 20, and Matt Lindner, a partner in Three Headed Productions, which owns bars including the Drawing Room and the Back Room.

The duo will introduce the line July 23 with two offerings, Moscow Mule and Southside. A third, called Paloma, will follow in about 45 days, according to Mr. Joly. They teamed with Wirtz Beverage to handle the distribution and will see its first run — about 1,000 six-packs of Moscow Mule and 450 six-packs of Southside — land at 15 to 20 Chicago-area Binny’s Beverage Depot stores priced at $19.99 a bottle. The Goddess & Grocer and Olivia’s Market will also carry the line.

The drinks, which were bottled in Montreal, underwent much scrutiny and final taste approval by Mr. Joly. The Moscow Mule comprises small-batch vodka, pure cane sugar, ginger beer made with organic ginger and lime juice. The Southside contains premium gin, pure mint extract blended from two French sources, cane sugar and lime. The Paloma will showcase premium tequila sourced from Mexico mixed with grapefruit juice, agave nectar and lime.

Mr. Joly and Mr. Lindner came up with the idea two years ago when the pair worked together at Drawing Room, where Mr. Joly was head mixologist for more than five years. Guests would often ask him to write down recipes for drinks he made. He had no problem sharing, but “drinks never come out quite right at home like when you had it in the bar,” Mr. Joly said. “We wanted to create something that was as close to what I create in a bar where people can pop the bottle and drink it.”

Crafthouse Cocktails, which are pasteurized, will have a shelf life of about a year. The 750-milliliter glass bottles, which contain about six servings, have a snap-top closure to help keep the cocktails fresh and carbonated in the refrigerator once opened.

“If you have a talented bartender in front of you, there’s nothing that will replace that 100 percent,” he said. “But I think it’s as close as you can be. You can’t take me with you to all of your barbecues!”

— Ari Bendersky

Follow On Dining on Twitter at @CrainsLife.


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