Shaken Cocktails*

Sunday, 6 December 2015

As you probably know by now, I'm not much of a cocktail drinker; usually I find them overly sickly and simply not to my taste. So when I was approached by Shaken Cocktails to review a pack from their subscription service, I had a mild panic. It seemed like the ideal thing to review in time for Christmas, but I felt severely out of my depth. My solution, much like how I brought my dad in on the post with Badger Beer, was to ask my fellow Hampshire blogger friends at The Cabinet Rooms to help. I met up with them in The Green Man in Winchester, who kindly lent us their function room, and went about our imbibery.

To let you know about what Shaken offers, Shaken's Explorers' Club costs £24 per month (which is seriously worth it when you look at the ingredients found in each box), and for that they send you a box every month, expertly created by the Shaken team. This subscription can be cancelled any time or even simply skipped for a month or two (probably around Lent, I'm sure).

Don't get me wrong, the Shaken Cocktails box explains absolutely everything you need to know, so even if you're not an expert mixologist, you will be able to make them like the best. Where the guys from The Cabinet Rooms really helped me was in the knowledge department (the good company was an added bonus). Without them I would have been Googling things left, right and centre, and it would have taken me ten times longer. Their mutual distaste in cheap, syrupy and sugary cocktails also helped reassure me that the quality provided by Shaken Cocktails is truly the top shelf stuff.

Each Shaken box comes with the ingredients to make five drinks (four large cocktails and some spirit for tasting), two recipes and basically everything but the ice and the fruit. Two boxes were sent to me to test out, of course we tried out all four cocktails. These cocktails were the Boulevardier and Manhattan (using Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon), along with Sunrise and Equinox (made with premium Icelandic vodka, Reyka). Each cocktail took you on it's own little journey of curiosity and quality with every sip, discovering new unexpected and interesting flavours each time.

The ethos of Cabinet Rooms is one of appreciation of premium drinks while discovering new things so hopefully these kits should tick all of those boxes. Here's what the guys from The Cabinet Rooms had to say about Shaken Cocktails:

"With so many questionable DIY cocktail products out there on supermarket shelves we weren't quite sure what to expect when Robert asked us to join him in shaking up some cocktails. Were we to be faced with synthetic sour mix or neon mojto "juice"? 

Thankfully not. In fact, we were most impressed by the quality of the ingredients laid out before us. The components of the cocktails had clearly been selected with the creation of a premium drink in mind. We were particularly thrilled to find one of our favourite vodkas, Reyka, included in the mix (more about our affinity to Reyka on our blog because we knew this wasn't going to be some cheap and tacky kit to play with. There were other great products in there too, such as Bitter Truth bitters, which come in generous enough volumes to allow for further experimentation - the idea of which we loved. We were particularly excited by the generous sample of Lillet Blanc, which we urged Robert to use to impress his friends with a Vesper martini next time he was feeling a James Bond vibe. 

It was good fun tasting the spirits as a group and following the recipes together. Our favourite was definitely the Reyka Sunrise (insert Icelandic name here!), which we're likely to order next time we're out in a bar."

Completely agreeing with everything the guys said, I was incredibly impressed by Shaken. My palette is heavily steered toward savoury, with a hint of appreciation for a sweet inflection. The Equinox was ideal for me in this sense, a warming and exciting mixture of Reyka Vodka, Peppercorn Tincture and citrus from the lemon twist and Lillet Blanc. Not only would it serve as a fantastic pallet cleanser for any situation (after 12pm of course), but I found I could simply keep drinking it and would love to see if it ends up in any bars locally - I would order it without hesitation!

Overall, I would say that the recommendations come pretty high for Shaken Cocktails. Not only did they go down brilliantly with two guys who are even setting up Winchester's very own Cocktail Week, taking place 1-7 February 2016 (Buy your ticket at, but all the cocktails were loved and appreciated by a guy who usually won't even drink a cocktail if it's given to him for free (what a student I am...).

A Shaken Cocktail subscription could be the perfect Christmas present for someone who has a taste for the finer things. The added bonus is that it's so unusual that it exudes thoughtfulness. Either that or subscribe for yourself... that's equally as good, if not better!

Cheers guys,

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