No segment of the alcohol market seems immune to the rising popularity of the limited-release high-end beverage explosion that is currently unfolding across the drinkscape. Rare bourbon drops sell out in hours with price tags north of $200, champagne sales are booming, and single bottles of beer hit prices that used to buy a case or two of brews. The demand for unique drinks is showing no signs of slowing down. At least, that’s what the makers of one of the more unusual offerings to appear yet are hoping.
The Gold Fashioned 2022 from Chicago spirits brand Sunday’s Finest Cocktails raises the possibilities of what consumers can expect from a premixed cocktail they can pour at home. The 750 ml bottle is filled with liquid made with premium bourbon, rye whiskey, and an array of ingredients from every inhabitable continent. It promises its owner the “perfect Old Fashioned.” I am sure that if they could have figured out how to package ice cubes from Antarctica with it, I am sure they would have. But perfection does have a cost, and in this case, that would be $150.
“We feel that folks want a more elevated hospitality experience at home. They would like to sip on something they could enjoy if they went to their favorite steakhouse or bar even when they don’t have the time to go out, says Robby Haynes, the co-founder of Sunday’s Finest Cocktails. By mixing the finest ingredients we can lay our hands on, we offer them the ability to kick back and have a great cocktail at home with minimal effort. We are excited to get these out in the market and only wish there were more this year.”
As one of the early voices in the reborn cocktail movement, Haynes brings legitimacy to the Gold Fashioned. He was the head bartender at Chicago’s The Violet Room, a James Beard Award-winning cocktail bar, then co-founded another acclaimed cocktail bar, Analouge. He then dove into the spirits business by opening Apologue Liqueurs in 2018. Its exotic liqueurs were targeted at the thriving cocktail and mixologist scene that had taken hold in cities across the country.
The pandemic made their business go quiet overnight as restaurants and bars suddenly scaled back or closed. After partnering with a local hospitality company to create a canned margarita, they realized that they could disrupt the emerging ready-to-drink segment by applying a luxury ethos to it. He and his two co-founders, Jordan Tepper and Damiane Nickles, got to work leaning on the relationships he had developed over the years with local farmers and international importers.
“We thought that an Old Fashioned was the perfect cocktail to test our theory out on. It’s a classic beverage that really is one of the cornerstones of the modern cocktail movement, says Haynes. It showcases a bartender’s touch. The difference between a good and a great one can boil down to one ingredient or the correct mixture. Plus, I have easily made over 10,000 in my career, so I knew what I was doing.”
Their first batch of 5,000 bottles was released in October 2021, and it sold out within a few months. That convinced the Sunday’s Finest team to bring it back once again.
This year only 3,000 bottles have been produced, but the blend has been elevated by the edition of 15-year Kentucky straight bourbon to last year’s mix of 9-year Kentucky straight bourbon and 6-year Indiana Rye. Their house-made bitters has handpicked saffron from Afghanistan, Tahitian vanilla beans, single-estate Ecuadorian cacao nibs, wild-harvested French gentian root, and Seville orange peel, all blended over several days to achieve the “best” flavor. Rounding out the drink is a natural raw Fair-Trade Demerara (think simple Syrup) from Malawi.
Packaged in a blue bespoke Art-Decco-styled box with bi-folding doors covered in gold lettering, it almost demands top billing on any home bar. To complete the experience, they even included a small atomizer filled with a blend of Valencia, navel, and blood oranges to be misted over each cocktail. It’s a showstopper, and that’s the plan. By following their recommendations to pour 2oz per drink, a bottle should hold 12 drinks, so that’s $12.50 per drink, which is pricy but not terrible.
“If you go out to an excellent cocktail bar in most towns, a great Old Fashioned with run you between $17-20, and you will pay for it because you are out for the night, says Haynes. We want our drink to convey the message that you’re treating yourself at home and that you should enjoy this. You earned it.”
You can order the Gold Fashioned from the Sunday’s Finest Website here.