Nothing is made-to-order at the White Lyan in London – all the cocktails are bottled, reports Jay Cheshes in The Wall Street Journal (1/18/14). "We’ve got no normal back bar, just very big fridges," says managing partner Iain Griffiths. The idea is far from new, although the idea of bottled cocktails went out with Prohibition and didn’t return until relatively recently. The current trend originated in London, ten years ago, at 69 Colebrook Row. Tony Conigliaro says he got the idea after being "given a 1920s vermouth."
"We made a Manhattan with it, and it was delicious," says Tony. "It got me thinking: You age wine and Port, why not age a cocktail, too?" He now pre-mixes Manhattans "—48 bottles every six months—" and says "they get better and better with age." At White Lyan, the bottled cocktails have another appeal: "We wanted to show you could have a good drink in your hand and still stand up and dance," says Iain. The concept is now returning to the US, as well. "To me it’s very smart business; all the work happens behind the scenes," says Naren Young of Empellon Taqueria in New York City.
Tony Conigliaro says he has no plans to sell his bottled batches at retail. "We’re in the business of bars," he says. However, others, including White Lyan, are already down that path, "creating a new retail segment that most liquor stores don’t quite know what to do with.” "From a marketing point of view, there is no category," says Ansley Coale of “California’s Craft Distillers, which debuted its Fluid Dynamics line in 2012." "There are no big players involved just yet – it takes three or four years for new things to catch on."