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If you’re spending the evening at my house, chances are I’m offering you a glass of white or bubbles as the beverage of choice. When I do some self-analysis, I find that my preference for vino is probably due to the fact that my parents always drank wine growing up. So, it makes sense that when I started drinking (at 21, right mom?) I took to their alcohol of choice, too. But, when I go out to meet friends or for dinner, the truth is, I really do love a cocktail. It’s just that, as much as I hope and pray I’ll one day wake up transformed into a professional bartender, I don’t really have the chops to whip up a drink of any kind (Margaritas aside) myself. And, when chatting with others in my life, I realized most of us have given up after too many failed cocktail-making attempts.
All of that’s to say that when I found out Acid League — the magic fermentation-forward flavor geniuses who craft some of my most relied upon pantry essentials — was putting out a cocktail kit well, I can’t say I was skeptical (I’m convinced the brand can do no wrong), but I was nervous. What if I didn’t live up to Acid League’s greatness? What if, even when using their delicious-sounding drink components, I was still left with a glass of no-thank-you in my hand? But, I figured, if anything was going to get me on the bartending train, it would undoubtedly be Acid League. After all, everything they put out automatically levels up my cooking (and now, drinking!).
The kit is available to pre-order right now (it ships out Nov. 7), but I was lucky enough to take it for a spin a little early (thanks, Acid League!). It comes in a sturdy gift box that, once opened, looks like a picture-perfect display. Inside the box, there are seven bottles, one jar, a box of two one-of-a-kind, Italian-designed resin coasters, and a box of four handmade and colorful glass stirrers. Each of the components is essentially a piece of art in its own right — a beautiful mix of flavor, texture, and color.
The flavors include Medjool Date Shrub Syrup, Citrus Saffron Cocktail Syrup, Punch Tonic Cocktail Syrup, Oolong Bourbon Cocktail Bitters, Elderberry Vermouth Cocktail Bitters, Peppa Spray Aromatic Cocktail Mist, Dirty Martini Cocktail Brine, and Popping Plum Cocktail Sugar Rim. You can add each of these unique concoctions to your favorite cocktail to give it a fun twist, mix and match to make a totally original beverage of your invention, or craft the most dynamic mocktail you’re ever tasted.
Are you a martini diehard? Boom, the herbal, basil-y, umami cocktail brine is the zesty marriage your gin and vermouth have been waiting for. Or, perhaps you’ve returned to the tried-and-true Old Fashioned during these chilly fall months — we got you covered! Release a dropper-full of the oolong bitters in place of traditional Angostura for a nutty, round, warming note that’ll intensify the oaky flavors of the drink. Gin and tonic lovers can rejoice, as well: There’s a tonic syrup here for you (just add to gin with a dash of sparkling H20 for a berry forward amalgamation). Whiskey sour fans can toss in the Medjool date syrup for a warmer, winter-forward iteration. If a Negroni — but make it sbagliato with Prosecco in it, right? — is what’s calling you, well, a dash of Acid League’s elderberry vermouth bitters is what you need.
Since I got the kit, I’ve tried a few classic cocktails, but I’ve mostly been just playing around with the ingredients. While I love them all, my favorite is the sugar rim. Like pop rocks, this fun mixture bursts in your mouth. It gets its extraordinary flavor from a mixture of brined plums, green mango, and pomegranate for a totally one-of-a-kind sipping experience. I rim almost all my glasses with the stuff (real bartenders, hold your tongues) and it adds a fizzy pop of sweet punch to whatever it is I’m drinking; even if that’s simply lemonade with citrus saffron syrup to sweeten and a spritz of Peppa Spray for a spicy finish (see what I mean about the mocktail possibilities?).
So, here’s the deal, you really should get one of these remarkable kits for yourself — my bar cart has never looked better, my guests have never been more impressed, and my tastebuds have never been happier — but, I really think this Acid League set would make the gift of the year. Whether your partner is a drink-making-aficionado, you’ve got a nephew who’s just made it to the legal drinking age, or you’ve got a sibling who always takes on the bartending role at family gatherings (and could use a little help), the Ultimate Cocktail Kit is, well, the ultimate gift.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to continue counting down to 5 p.m. so I can whip up another tasty creation.