Best of Philly

2021 Post-Pandemic Trend

Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Lansdale’s Boardroom Spirits founder Marat Mamedov says he noticed the rise of malt-based seltzers, knew canned cocktails would be the next big trend, and started canning a Moscow Mule. Made with the distillery’s Brazilian-ginger-root-infused vodka, the effervescent drink is not too sweet and totally refreshing — a tough balance to strike in a can.

“When you have a clean canvas to work with, which the vodka offers, you can let the other flavors shine through in a bigger manner without off-putting notes,” says Mamedov.

ALCO, one arm of Kensington-based New Liberty Distillery, canned classics like vodka soda and gin and tonic with the brand’s own spirits plus fresh ingredients — ­t­onic from ­century-old soft-drink company Natrona Bottling Company and real lemon and lime juices.

Others in Philly didn’t go so far as to can their concoctions, but they found creative ways to get them into eager drinkers’ hands this past year (well, while to-go cocktails were still legal), including Paul MacDonald at Friday Saturday Sunday and Eddie Adams, head bartender at Bar Hygge. Drawing on the ingenuity that makes them stand-out drink-makers even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, both bartenders figured out how to keep the cocktails coming.

Adams made a steady stream of seasonal punch, which he offered in single-serving pouches or large-format glass bottles. Those came with a bottle of club soda plus a special mix of raw sugar, salt, lavender and coriander so you could rim your glass at home — a fancy touch in not-so-fancy times.

At FSS, MacDonald didn’t limit himself to any specific cocktail but instead bottled (or poured into a single-serving plastic cup) pretty much everything on the menu, except, he says, for the swizzles, which rely on packed-down pellet ice, and the egg-white drinks, which depend on that freshly shaken texture. “Fulfilling off-menu or bartender’s-pick requests has always been a big part of our cocktail program, so I did my best to keep that up when possible,” MacDonald says.

A grateful, slightly tipsy city salutes these libation innovations (and hopes the politicians in Harrisburg get their heads out of the cooler long enough to sign a permanent to-go-cocktail bill).