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I often get asked where to buy certain spirits and cocktail-related items. So, in addition to my usual thoughts on cocktail bars and classes in town, I’m adding a third category to the blog for spirits shops. And the first post on shopping goes to a well-deserving little spot that’s newly (and conveniently!) opened in my hood: Sipeasy.
Sipeasy is based on a concept that goes beyond just the standard cavist. Owner, Paul-Eric, stocks the usual suspects: wine, bubbly and booze. You’ll also find a wide range of high-quality nibbles and bar equipment. But Sipeasy takes the art of apero shopping one step further with the Sipbox: a boxed set of ingredients to create a particular cocktail at home.
So, what makes this different from just buying all the necessary ingredients separately? The Sipbox is based on three elements that make it stand out:
Whether it’s the citrus, syrups or spirits, Paul-Eric is selecting the good stuff. He’s been working closely with a producer who develops a range of liqueurs and syrups then bottled under the Sipeasy name. Not content with the standard triple secs on the market, he also convinced the distillery to revive their original triple sec recipe (from the 20’s), which is also bottled and sold under the Sipeasy name. Sipeasy offers a good selection of spirits from the standards to some which are more difficult to find in Paris.
Sipboxes include smaller-sized bottles scaled to the number of drinks in each set. For example, if you wanted to make a martini at home, you’d have to buy an entire full sized bottle of both gin and vermouth, even though the vermouth will only make up a small portion of the drink. If you’re, say, me, this poses no problem as you will eventually make it through both. But, the numbers of times I’ve seen a dusty bottle of some obscure spirit sitting in the corner of someone’s kitchen, I realize that not everyone wants or needs a fully stocked bar at home. The sets come in three sizes and include the proper amount of ingredients to create 4 to 8 cocktails.
Sipbox prices vary depending on the drink, but the range stays between 2.50 to 4 Euros per drink.
I had the pleasure of sampling the Caipirumski Sipbox last weekend and can report back that he’s effectively united these three elements into a successful concept. My box contained:
-20cl of Très vieux Rhum Agricole réserve Spéciale HSE Saint-Etienne
-10 cl of sugar cane syrup
-two very nice limes
Following the recipe exactly, I mixed up the drinks and was happy with the result. Having had some spectacularly bad rhum agricoles in the past, I tend to shy away from it. So I was particularly pleased with the choice of this one with the aged aspect enhancing the flavor and giving the cocktail overall a more interesting aspect.
While Paul-Eric does develop some drinks, he’s very forthcoming about the fact that he is not a professional bartender and relies on inspiration from well-respected cocktail books such as Larousse, Imbibe or Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. And I believe the fact that he doesn’t come from a bar background works in his favor for this type of venture. He approaches his project as a consumer would, resulting in a very customer-conscious level of service.
The Sipbox is a fun and easy way for the cocktail curious to try their hand at home mixing without having to rely on premade mixers and bagged or boxed ready-mades. Thus, the customer is better able to appreciate the individual ingredients and can more easily experiment with various drinks on a small scale without stocking up on ingredients that might go unused.
For me personally, the Sipbox is less of a necessity because I generally either already have or am happy to buy the needed ingredients for any given cocktail. However, what I will use the Sipboxes for is as a fun alternative to bringing a bottle of wine to someone’s home. And for those of you like me who don’t shy away from full-size, the Sipeasy shop of course offers everything in standard bottles as well. So stop in next time you’re in the market for something interesting or some spirits advice from the perpetually pleasant Paul-Eric. Or check out his blog that features drinks recipes, cocktail news and information on the store.
Congratulations to Sipeasy for a successful start. And, I just happen to know that tonight is the inaugural party, which seems a particularly fitting day to put up my inaugural post on cocktail shopping.