While cocktails may currently be getting a lot of press in Paris, they still haven’t entirely integrated into the city’s culinary culture yet (beyond their relatively small niche.) Of Paris’ many, many bars, only a handful are creating truly inspired cocktails. In recent years, cocktail kits or delivery services have popped up then quickly petered out. But it looks like cocktails may slowly but more successfully integrating into the scene of late. The emergence of good restaurants that also offer solid cocktail programs (Hero, Danico/Daroco, Bonhomie, etc.) are helping to move mixed drinks from the “trend zone” to something more serious, globally understood and appreciated. And, hopefully that means it’s now a more propitious time for drinks delivery services than in years past. We’ve already seen the growth of Nighthawks, with their on-call ready-made cocktails, and now there’s another new way to get good drinks brought to your door: New York Cocktail Box.
New York Cocktail Box is a monthly subscription service that delivers everything necessary to make 4+ cocktails at home including all ingredients, instructions, jigger, and napkins or coasters. To complete the experience, they also provide a pamphlet with the cocktail’s backstory, food pairing suggestions, recommended playlist, a QR code linking to an instructional video and other relevant information. It all comes in a very nicely packaged box, the theme of which changes every month.
So, what’s the NYC connection? NYCB is the brainchild of Antoine Garel and Aurelie Maillard, who spent 18 months in New York bars repping calvados. After returning to France, they wanted to share a bit of the Big Apple with their compatriots. Thus, the recipes used in each month’s box come from some of the city’s best known bars, old and new, from the likes of the Waldorf Astoria to the Dead Rabbit.
This seemed like an interesting enough approach, so I signed up for one month to test things out. When my first month’s delivery didn’t arrive, I contacted them, they researched the problem and immediately remedied it. Blame falls completely on the postal delivery service, and extra points go to New York Cocktail Box for a speedy and professional resolution of a problem created by a third party.
My first box included all the ingredients for a French 75: a 1/2 bottle of Lanson champagne, a small bottle of Diplome gin, a mini Monin simple syrup and a lemon. In addition to the drink ingredients and aforementioned bits and bobs, it also included 2 red heart balloons, since it was the February delivery. (ah, sweet….) The following month’s cocktail was the less familiar Coronation cocktail, presented by NYC bartender Franck Caifa of the Waldorf Astoria – they also included 4 napkins from this world-famous hotel. Incidentally, the Coronation makes a lovely aperitif with the combination of the apricot liqueur + calvados giving a sweet and sour apple flavor that makes your mouth water.
In terms of products, quality is respectable. Considering what’s come in my 2 boxes so far and their information online, they are working with some smaller, great names like Maison Ferrand as well as the old reliable big boys like Martini or Campari. When I first signed up it was just going to be a month trial to review it. However, I ended up enjoying the little surprise more than I expected. I often fall into the same old routine (like stirring up the usual martini), so it’s nice to be pushed to try something different from time to time. Plus, it’s just fun to spoil yourself in a little, affordable ways sometimes. Rather than cancelling, I ended up signing up for the 6-month subscription.
Prices are affordable; even with shipping, cocktails will cost less than what you’d pay in a bar. And, sure, buying full size bottles and making cocktails from your own stock is the least expensive. But, the nice thing about the delivery is there are just some things you don’t have space or desire to stock in full format. With the box, you get a little sample of everything and can decide based on that what you might want to invest in on a regular basis.
The three month or “cancel anytime” subscription is 29.95/month and the 6-month subscription is 25.95/month (do note, though, when you choose this money saving option, you pay all six months up front.) Add a fiver onto that to pick up your box at a Point Relay or around 10 Euros extra for home delivery. I originally chose the pick-up option, but decided to opt for home delivery with my 6-month subscription – if I’m going to spoil myself, I’m going not doing it half way. Additionally, you can order one-offs of back-issues of the box in their online shop for a little more than the monthly subscription cost.
On a side note, I also think it would be fun and interesting for NYCB (or someone else!) to create a subscription service for seasonal cocktails (using seasonal fruits or syrups) Kinda like those famers’ boxes for fruit and veg…except more fun!
In short, this is a fun way to treat yourself or give a cool gift to a cocktail loving friend. So, keep drinking and discovering cocktails, Paris because I want the delivery services to stick around!