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FOOD + DRINK

Getting Crafty with Shaker & Spoon

Everything but the alcohol in this thoughtfully assembled monthly box of cocktail ingredients

by Nara Shin
on 26 October 2016

A boozy subscription box without the booze? Before you run away, hear Shaker & Spoon founders, book designer Anna Gorovoy and animator Mike Milyavsky, out. By removing the most readily available and physically heaviest ingredient—liquor—their package can cram more specialty ingredients (meaning more cocktails), offer lower shipping and overall box price (since you're not buying marked up alcohol), and you get the final say in the brand of spirit (top-shelf or inexpensive, favorite or experimental). "The best thing about not including it is that we can really fill the box up with a lot of other significantly harder-to-find ingredients," Milyavsky tells CH. "It may seem counter-intuitive, but when you think about it, the bottle of alcohol is really the least important part!"

Each box contains ingredients to make four cocktails—each from three very different recipes—including house-made syrups and even perishables. The previous month's mezcal kit, for example, included a blood orange, four limes, chili lime salt, celery syrup, acid phosphate, ancho-jalapeño agave nectar, Scrappy's Firewater tincture, Critter Bitters pure cricket tincture (which was Kickstarted last year) and Mr Davis' chocolate syrup. As soon as you open the jam-packed box, it's hard not to call some friends immediately and tell them to come over. It's also a fantastic voyage from drinking smoky, oftentimes overpowering mezcal straight up to trying it in new and inventive ways—paired with interesting ingredients.

Milyavsky points out that rather than simply tracking down hard-to-find bitters, they're committed to tracking down the "hard-to-find bartenders" who are passionate about experimenting and making drinks—and also get nominated for Tales of the Cocktail awards. "It's really our job to find them and get them to do some magic for us."

"Our starting concept was that we were going to teach people how to make great drinks," continues Milyavsky. "So we have two ways in which we do that: firstly, we include three original recipes in each box that all share the same base spirit, but have wildly different flavor profiles. We want to show our subscribers how much range every spirit has, we don't believe that you can truly not like gin or not like bourbon—only that you can not like drinks you've had with that spirit before." Milyavsky adds, "Secondly, we include enough ingredients for you to either perfect or experiment with each recipe. Some people have a sweet tooth, some like heat, some like bitter or sour. Make the drinks the way they're supposed to be made first, but, if you find something too much in either direction, luckily you get four attempts to make it right for you."

Subscribe by November 1 to get next month's perfectly timed and cozy "Thank Goodness for Bourbon Box"—the no-commitment option is $50, but a year's subscription brings each box to $40. We recommend hopping on board with the three-month plan, however, because after Bourbon, it's "Gincember!" There's a Flaming Rosemary Gimlet recipe in there that's going to be the life of your holiday party.

Images courtesy of Shaker & Spoon

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