While premade cocktails may seem like a relatively recent fad, these novelty drinks surprisingly date back to the 1890s in Hartford, Connecticut. The ready-to-drink (RTD) category has seen success and irrelevance over the past century but appears to have turned a new page in recent years.
Catering to those who don’t fit the mixologist mold, RTDs are a fun and easy way to enjoy cocktails without the hassle of crafting your own. Convenience stores across China typically carry RTDs from Jack Daniels and Cola to various Rio drinks – making up the lower end of RTDs in the Middle Kingdom.
The high-end of the bottled cocktail market is what we’re after, which is where Laiba comes into play.
We had the opportunity to try the Shanghai-based artisanal bottled cocktail brand, which sure didn’t disappoint. A little backstory about the brand, the drinks are crafted by Michael Chen, an award-winning mixologist who is considered one of the best in Asia. The concept behind Laiba is to bottle cocktails just as if they were served in the world’s best bars – a lofty goal, we might add.
At first glance, the bottles are well packaged and designed, making for a great gift option. To prepare the cocktails, all you have to do is shake the bottle and pour it over ice. If you want to go the extra mile, add garnish for that ‘wow’ factor. (To be honest, we didn’t, and the drink was still tasty.)
We ended up taking Laiba with us on holiday, as they’re easy to pack in a suitcase and perfect to have as a pregame option along with beer or hard liquor. We also spent some time sipping them at home when guests would come over.
Laiba has a range of cocktail products, including Bloody Mary, Earl’s Old Fashioned, Cold Brew Martini and Twisted Negroni, among others. According to their official website, cocktails are RMB50 per bottle (90-125 milliliters). There are also a few variety packs that drop the price a tad.
We came away impressed by the tasty tipples. The Bloody Mary packed a delicious umami punch of tomato, paired with just the right amount of heat. For those uninitiated to savory cocktails, one taster said it was reminiscent of “hot sauce with alcohol.” As for the Laiba Sour, it has very natural flavors like an actual cocktail should – arrivederci, artificial flavors. Simply delicious. On a side note, make sure to have a second glass nearby, as it’s awkward drinking straight from the bottle.
We view Laiba cocktails as a solid gift option for friends or the occasional splurge for a small house gathering. But if you take your cocktail-making skills seriously, we wouldn’t expect you to be a repeat customer.
Laiba has been growing at a quick pace, expanding in China and other overseas markets. A Laiba representative told us the cocktails can be found in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Hainan, Suzhou, Shenyang, Asia Pacific and the UK. (You can also order their products directly online in China.)
To learn more about Laiba, visit laibabeverages.com.
[All image via That’s]