Booze | August 31, 2021 8:22 am

The Future of At-Home Cocktails Arrives in a Box

How COVID-19 and boxed wine helped inspire a new wave of “bag-in-box” drinks

A person (off-camera) squeezing a lime over a margarita from Crafthouse Cocktails. The brand is one of several that's launched a "boxed cocktail" line, which makes it easier (and cheaper) to serve cocktails in a large-format setting
Crafthouse is one of several new boxed cocktails
Crafthouse Cocktails

Last year’s rise in to-go cocktails meant we were frequently imbibing large-format drinks out of everything from plastic pouches to swing-top bottles.

But as far as convenience goes, nothing could top a box. As in bag-in-box, an increasingly popular format for distilleries to present their artisanal cocktails in a way that’s easy to transport and serve. 

And yes, the (unfairly) disdained concept of boxed wine was an inspiration, as St. Agrestis Spirits co-founder Louis Catizone tells us. “I was on a trip to Minneapolis visiting our distributor and got to talking about the desire for larger-format offerings,” he tells InsideHook. “As we were talking, I’m literally staring at a stack of boxed wine, and that’s when the idea hit — why not put our bottled Negroni in a boxed format?” 

St. Agrestis launched the cocktails during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they turned out to be a hit. “It’s value and convenience,” says Catizone. “You’ll get a consistent drink every time. It’s like a Negroni fountain in your fridge.” 

And starting with a Negroni was also a deliberate choice. “It’s booze mixed with booze mixed with booze,” as Catizone notes. “It’s very shelf stable.”

Anheuser-Busch is paying attention to this new trend — the drinks giant recently announced a line of Boxology Cocktails.  But until we get our hands on those (right now, they’re a trial release in Arizona and Georgia), we present some bag-in-box cocktails that are ideal for this upcoming holiday weekend, when you may be faced with large gatherings and/or on a lazy getaway where you don’t want to handle home bartender duties.

St. Agrestis Negroni in a box
St. Agrestis Negroni
St. Agrestis Spirits

St. Agrestis Spirits

The pioneer in boxed drinks, this Brooklyn-made, Italian-inspired herbal spirits brand offers up 1.75L bag-in-box takes on the Negroni, Black Manhattan and Boulvardier, though the last two were limited-edition releases that sold out this past winter. At $60, you’re getting bar-worthy drinks at around $3 per glass that’ll stay fresh for up to three months. (For individual servings, you can get most of their stuff in glass 50ml and 100ml bottles, too, along with some canned cocktails as well.)

BarBox Gin Lemonade in a box
BarBox Gin Lemonade
BarBox

BarBox

Produced by Kozuba & Sons, a Florida-based distillery that won the New York International Spirits Competition 2021 “RTD Distillery of the Year” award, BarBox crafts several all-natural cocktails (Negroni, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, etc.) in eco-friendly boxes that hold 14 4-oz pours. Note: At up to 26% ABV, these are the most potent of the boxed drinks, so sip wisely.

MurLarkey Bootlegged Lemonade cocktail in a box
MurLarkey Bootlegged Lemonade
MurLarkey Distilled Spirits

MurLarkey Distilled Spirits

This Virginia distillery uses local ingredients to fashion a wide range of boozy products, with an emphasis on infused whiskeys (including banana, coffee and “Salsa Borracha”). Recently they released a “Bootlegged Lemondate” boxed cocktail featuring their own lemon-infused whiskey as a base. At $19, it’s basically a buck per cocktail. 

The Spicy Margarita bag-in-box cocktail from Crafthouse Cocktails
The Spicy Margarita box from Crafthouse Cocktails
Crafthouse Cocktails

Crafthouse Cocktails

Chicago bartender Charles Joly (formerly of The Aviary) helped launch Crafthouse back in 2013 — at the time, they were pretty much the gold standard and one of the few companies actually making bottled cocktails. And now you can get some of their flavors, including the Moscow Mule, Pineapple Daiquiri, Smoky and Spicy Margarita, in the bag-in-box format.