Premixed, ready to drink cocktails (RTDs) are all the rage in the cocktail world. There’s no shaking, stirring or bartending skills of any kind needed. Bottled, pre-batched drinks are as easy to enjoy as opening a beer. One of the most popular American cocktails to recently get an RTD update is the Old Fashioned. Try one of these four, and you’ll be able to sell that vintage mixing glass and bar spoon collection of yours on Ebay.
Most people don’t know it, but in Wisconsin bartenders (and drinkers) continue to drink their Old Fashioneds with brandy rather bourbon or rye. It’s a long, complicated story, but brandy, specifically Cognac, once reigned supreme in cocktails in Colonial America. At the Soulboxer cocktail company—which is based in Pewaukee, Wisconsin—Doug McKenzie and Jason Neu pay tribute to their state’s unique take on the Old Fashioned with this ready to drink bottled cocktail. Made with Californian brandy, Door County cherry juice, orange oil, bitters and cane sugar, their bottled Old Fashioned is all natural and delicious. While you can technically swig this bad boy straight out of the bottle (it is ready to drink), the cocktail really opens up and reveals its complexity when it is served over ice. The dilution allows the brighter citrus flavors to shine through and the juicy cherry flavor to come to the forefront, rather than being just a back note on the finish. You can even top this cocktail with straight seltzer for a incredibly refreshing, downright chuggable take on the Highball.
Soulboxer’s second RTD offering will be more familiar to most non-Badger State Old Fashioned drinkers. Using a bourbon base, this bottled cocktail adds a touch of Wisconsin cherry juice, orange oil, Angostura bitters and cane sugar to the mix. More layered and complex than the brand’s Brandy Old Fashioned, this take on the classic is a lot spicier and vanilla forward. Drink this Old Fashioned as an all-natural alternative to Fireball, or over a fat cube of ice in a rocks glass with a cherry, an orange twist or a combination of the two. It is also extremely delicious shaken with three-quarters of an ounce of fresh lemon juice for a quick and easy take on the Whiskey Sour.
*It is worth noting that both of the Soulboxer bottled Old Fashioneds are currently only distributed in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.
Produced in Columbus, Ohio, this bottled Old Fashioned is strong (35-percent ABV) but still quaffable. Made with Watershed’s own bourbon, Ohio cherry juice, two types of bitters (orange and aromatic), and a touch of sugar, this bottling packs an unexpected punch—and is better for it. Unlike the others, it actually tastes like a stiff, stirred cocktail. On the palate it is rich and velvety, with flavors of cinnamon, brown butter and waffles in spades. If the sharp booziness isn’t your thing, it is lessened if the cocktail is served with ice or a splash of seltzer, which also allows more of the flavors from the bitters and the cherry juice to come through.
*Watershed’s Old Fashioned is currently only distributed in Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia. It will be available in Michigan soon.
One of the most popular and widely available bottled Old Fashioneds, Slow & Low’s Rock and Rye is produced by the Cooper Spirits Company in Pennsylvania. Based on a recipe that was served “straight up” in saloons and pharmacies in the 1800s, this bottled Old Fashioned is a mixture of straight rye whiskey, raw Pennsylvania honey, orange oil (from Florida Navel oranges), rock candy and bitters. Bottled at a whopping 84 proof, this is definitely the strongest of the lot, even though it doesn’t taste like it. A bright, vivacious orange flavor disguises the high alcohol content. Almost too delicious, this bottled cocktail has an abundance of honeysuckle, brown sugar, baking spice and pepper on the palate. Best of all, Slow & Low is offered in a 750ml bottle or 100ml cans, which are as portable as they are adorable.