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What we’re drinking: Six new bottled cocktails from Via Carota Craft Cocktails (VCCC)
Where they’re from: Via Carota is a well-loved Italian restaurant in NYC’s West Village, helmed by James Beard award-winning chefs Jody Williams and Rita Sodi
Why we’re drinking these: While I’ve been a little exhausted by the sheer volume (and general mediocrity) of ready-to-drink cocktails, I was curious to see if a different approach — from a venue more known for its gastronomic qualities — would improve upon my usual “eh, that’ll do” response to canned/bottled drinks.
Just launched, the VCCC portfolio consists of three ready-to-pour recipe families (Negroni, Bourbon-based, Martini) with two cocktails each. And there are significant plans to expand the line in the coming months.
Your Negroni Does Not Need Equal PartsThe uniformity of the classic recipe (same amounts of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) may not produce an ideal drink
Given that Via Carota has more of a name in the food world than the drinks world, I was curious about how that impacted the cocktails’ creation. “Food is our first love, so it certainly plays into anything we do,” Williams and Sodi told me in an email interview. “We enjoy entertaining at home as much as we do in our restaurants, and so we approached these recipes from that standpoint. The cocktails were designed to stand on their own by they can also pair deliciously with salatini — Italian snacks.”
As with many bottled cocktails, there were some necessary workarounds. For instance, the Negroni utilizes a red aparativo from Brooklyn’s Forthave Spirits, along with bespoke vermouth.
Let’s dig in.
How they taste: Oddly, given my love of whiskey, it’s the martini bottles that shine here. The vodka martini is perfectly balanced and far less punchy (read: boozy) than something I’d make at home or get at a bar — it’s the rare case where the bottled version shows more restraint and flavor. And the espresso martini is an after-dinner stunner, with the coffee notes really shining through.
The Negronis trade some of the bitterness for a more rounded approach — and a slightly different flavor profile. The white Negroni utilizes Forthave’s White Aperitivo and a vermouth blend rather than the standard Lillet and Suze; as someone who is not necessarily the world’s biggest Negroni champion, I welcomed all changes. Again, balanced and approachable, though if you’re a stickler for tradition (and Campiri in your classic Negroni), this might not be your gin drink of choice.
The whiskey cocktails are the booziest of the bunch (27.5% and 33.5% ABV for the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, respectively). Both drinks utilize four-year-old rye as their base, cutting down on the overpowering sweetness I find in a lot of bottled whiskey drinks that use bourbon. Overall, these are solid representations of classic dinner drinks, with the Manhattan being more distinctive here (no surprise that an Italian place would know its vermouth).
Note: While the serving suggestions suggest pouring over ice and adding a garnish, you can freeze the martinis and Manhattan bottles if you want to replicate the drinks as they are traditionally served (as in neat). Speaking of bottles…
Fun fact: You might want to buy these drinks for the bottles alone. These beautifully textured 375ml vessels — designed by Stranger & Stranger with a logo by Louise Fili — seem purposely designed to be reused as vases or kitchen containers that you’d proudly display on your counter.
Where to buy: The Via Carota Craft Cocktails range (Classic Negroni, White Negroni, Old Fashioned, Signature Manhattan, Espresso Martini and Signature Martini) is available for $40/bottle at drinkviacarota.com.
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