Are Bar and Restaurant Drink Kits Worth It? We'd Say So

Sure you have to mix it together, but you're doing more than just buying ingredients.

By Timothy Malcolm April 15, 2020

What I got from my Cantina Barba drink kit: ingredients for an Old Fashioned.

Back in mid-March, Gov. Greg Abbott waived certain regulations that previously disallowed restaurants to sell alcohol for to-go consumption.

According to the waiver, restaurants with a mixed beverage permit could only sell the alcohol if it was sold with a purchase of food, and if the alcohol was kept in manufacturer's packing. That means, usually, ingredients are packaged and given to the customer, who would then combine the ingredients for the finished product. So, those of us buying still need to put on our amateur mixologist aprons and execute the libation.

As a human who drinks alcohol and rather enjoys the practice in moderation, I wanted to try this. So I called up one of my favorite bars/restaurants in the city, Cantina Barba, and ordered a drink kit from beverage professional Kristine Nguyen. (To fulfill the order, I also snagged a bag of cheeseburgers and fries, which you can read about here.)

After spending $30 on the burgers and another $45 on the kit (in this case ingredients to make an Old Fashioned), Nguyen sent me home with the food and kit all in one big bag. Here's what came in the kit:

  • One 375 ml bottle of whiskey (options included Knob Creek, Maker's Mark, Basil Hayden's)
  • One 118 ml bottle of Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Two capped plastic condiment containers filled with infused simple syrup
  • A single orange (for peeling rind)
  • A handwritten recipe for an Old Fashioned

It was easy to follow and make (hey, it's just four ingredients). That evening I made four drinks and still had nearly a half-bottle of the Knob Creek left, plus a nearly full bottle of bitters ... and an orange (just without the rind).

So for $45, I get ingredients that I'd have to buy at a spirits store—and for the same price—but here it's from a bar that I enjoy and hope stays open through this pandemic. I'd say it's worth it. So, next time you're in the market for some spirits, think about getting a drink kit, put some dinner on top of it, and have yourself a fun night.

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