During the pandemic, the to-go cocktail was a silver lining of an otherwise dark time in the city — and a lifeline for struggling bars and restaurants. For more than a year, New Yorkers could enjoy drinking mojitos and margaritas on their stoops and sidewalks à la New Orleans. Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo pulled the plug on to-go drinks in June — just as lots of us were looking forward to openly enjoying some boozy public outdoor hangs in the warm weather. Plenty of bars and restaurants have ample outdoor seating, so you can still have a drink curbside (and support your local spot), but sometimes you want to take a drink with you to the park or beach — and you don’t want the illicit vibes of a flask. To help you find a convenient and attractive way to continue to partake in your newfound habit of public consumption, we asked bartenders, drinks experts, and other cool people about their favorite ways to discreetly carry cocktails, wine, and beer around town. Their picks, below, include everything from a bracelet that’ll carry a few ounces of liquor to a beach bag that doubles as a wine dispenser.
For carrying mixed drinks inconspicuously, Alyssa Sartor, co-owner of the cocktail bar and restaurant August Laura in Carroll Gardens, likes this colorful tumbler, which can hold 16 ounces of liquid. “I recommend pre-diluting whichever cocktail you choose. That way the ice is not taking up much-needed cocktail space,” she says, adding that this tumbler will keep your drink cold for at least nine hours even without ice. She also likes it for hot toddies in the winter. “It will keep it nice and steamy for three hours,” she says. Matt Hechter and Chris Brandon, founders of Tepozan Tequila, are also fans of the Corkcicle tumbler (it comes in plenty of solid colors, too) because “it keeps your cocktail cold way longer than you’ll need to finish drinking it.”
Stainless-steel, vacuum-insulated bottles and tumblers from brands like S’well came up a lot among our experts because they keep drinks cold for hours and never leak. “For long outdoor outings, stainless-steel containers are sleek, scratch-resistant, and, in my opinion, the top material for carrying cocktails wherever you please,” says Ryan Close, CEO and founder of at-home cocktail-maker company Bartesian.
Michele, a bartender and founder of Coquinut nutcrackers, also likes stainless-steel tumblers. While she uses S’well and Ello, she says she’s especially fond of Contigo because of the lifetime warranty the brand offers on its products. “If anything breaks or anything happens to it, you just go on the website and they’ll replace it, no questions asked,” she says. Plus all parts of the tumbler (including the straw) seal shut to keep your drink cold and prevent spills. As Michele says, this is critical at the beach, where your tumbler may drop in the sand. “You don’t want a crunchy margarita.”
Dale DeGroff, author of The New Craft of the Cocktail, which is considered fundamental reading for bartenders, recommends the “basically indestructible” Hydro Flask and tells us he owns a “bunch” of these insulated, vacuum-sealed bottles. “They have double-wall stainless construction and keep cocktails cold or hot for hours,” he says. “The closures are leak free even in a luggage compartment on a plane — been there, done that.” Chris Patino, a drinks-industry expert and founder of the marketing agency Simple Serve, regularly fills up his 32-ounce wide-mouth Hydro Flask bottle with either mixed drinks or wine for outdoor concerts in the park. “It can fit an entire bottle of wine or approximately six-to-seven batched cocktails and keep them cold for up to 24 hours,” he says.
Mixologist Tiffanie Barriere (also known as the Drinking Coach) agrees that metal bottles are best for cocktails because they’re exceptional at maintaining a steady temperature. “Metal will keep your drink tasting the way you intended it to when you created it,” she says. “Plastic will allow flavor changes throughout the day or night due to temperature changes.” The Yeti bottle is her personal favorite. As she tells us, “I batched a cold cocktail with ice in it and went to a small house party because they were only going to have beer, and my cocktail stayed cold with ice for at least 3.5 hours.”
All the qualities that make this shaker superior to others on the market also make it a great vessel for toting around drinks, says Nicola Nice, founder and CEO of Pomp & Whimsy gin. “It was designed by bartenders, and it never sticks or leaks,” she says. “It will keep your cocktails cold with ice for hours, and it has a measurer built in.” It fits about 4-5 cocktails and Nice says she once left a full shaker in her car overnight and the next evening the drinks inside were still cold.
If you’re pouring wine for friends on the beach or in the park, Sartor suggests a bag with a built-in spout. The wine compartment is insulated, so it won’t get warm, and there’s still plenty of room for your other essentials. Katie Stryjewski, a cocktail blogger and the author of Cocktails, Mocktails, and Garnishes From the Garden, agrees that the PortoVino bag is a “fun” option for outdoor sipping.
As for what to pour your wine in, Nice recommends stemless wine glasses, especially for outdoor hangs. “I like to call it the Swiss army knife of glassware,” she says. “When you’re outdoors, you want something that won’t tip easily on grass or sand.” For the perfect to-go option, she likes this stainless-steel stemless glass from Yeti with a magnetic-locking lid to protect your drink from spills. (And if you’re pouring cocktails, she likes the “lowball” version.)
Stryjewski says she’s a “big believer that presentation and proper glassware are an important part of a good cocktail,” so instead of settling for an old-fashioned without a rocks glass, she generally sticks with beer or wine for drinking on the go. For those instances, she sticks with a coffee tumbler like this double-wall-insulated one from MiiR that’s beloved by baristas for coffee. “As long as it seals well, it will prevent spillage and keep things cold, and it’s easy and discreet to drink out of it in public,” she says. You can fit a can of beer in the 12-ounce tumbler or a pint in the 16-ounce size.
While it technically is a flask, this fillable bracelet is a much better disguise than the standard style. Sartor likes it for sipping spirits neat. “It doesn’t hold much and won’t keep anything cold for long but it is perfect for a couple ounces of your favorite whiskey, tequila, or mezcal,” she says. “It also doubles as a super cute accessory, and no one would be the wiser.”
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