Liberty Market's Bottled Cocktails Taste Craft but Serve Up Quick

If you're sick and tired of those craft cocktail wait times, cart your impatient bum over to Liberty Market, where the cocktails are premixed in bottles and ready for you with just the pop of a top. While this downtown Gilbert institution is known for serving up great food, wine, beer and espresso, bartender Travis Tolmachoff recently undertook the task of adding cocktails to the repertoire, although the restaurant's service style and current layout didn't allow for the typical bartender experience. With five current varieties in a range of spirits, these classic and re-imagined cocktails are sure to please your liquor palate.

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Much the way John's Premium Tonic Syrups were born in Astor House due to a lack of space and necessary equipment, innovation at Liberty Market came from restriction. The bottled cocktails came onto the scene last year as Tolmachoff's solution to a pre-existing system that didn't allow for the typical bar and bartender setup. Liberty also doesn't have a tap system, so draft cocktails were out of the question.

If you've been to Liberty Market, you've likely waited in the long line leading to the counter where you order. This is a good time to glance at the five varieties of bottled cocktails, including Negroni, Margarita, and Golden Pear. Once you order, you're given a number and seated. If you ordered a Golden Pear while at the counter, all that the barista at the coffee counter has to do now is crack open your bottled cocktail and hand you a cup of ice with a lime. Tolmachoff says that this allows for them to provide quality and speed in their craft drink mixes.

"For the restaurant, we are able to provide quality drinks in a consistent, timely manner, and for the customer, they are able to get a well-crafted cocktail -- maybe even a five-, six-, seven-ingredient cocktail -- in just a minute or two," he says.

For each cocktail, regardless of whether it's consists of just spirits and syrups or includes fresh juices, Tolmachoff starts with a big batch, which he says ensures consistency in both flavor and spirit content. He also says the beer-like cap gives the cocktails a long shelf life, with spirit cocktails keep indefinitely and those with fresh juices lasting over a month in the fridge. Although you can't currently buy the bottled cocktails for your home bar due to liquor license restrictions on retail, Tolmachoff is looking into making that a possibility for the future. For now, here's what you can try in bottles at Liberty Market:

Margarita: Sauza silver tequila, Gran Gala orange liqueur, lime juice. Negroni: Beefeater gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and we carbonate the drink with CO2. Golden Pear: Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon, lemon and a housemade spiced pear syrup with clove, cardamom and cinnamon. Monsoon: Gosling's dark rum and housemade ginger beer, carbonated. Pom Cosmo: Tito's vodka, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, lime, simple syrup and Gran Gala liqueur.

These five variations will change quarterly, with a focus on providing a range of spirit options based on classic cocktail recipes. This month, Tolmachoff will mix it up, switching out the Monsoon for a Trader Vic-style Mai Tai and the Negroni (which you absolutely have to try before it's gone) with a gin and tonic that uses a tonic syrup made by Tolmachoff. Although Tolmachoff is the first one to admit he's mostly self-taught, gaining bits and pieces from friends in the business, his passion, creativity and experimentation -- along with his collection of a dozen vintage cocktail books -- makes these cocktails great.

"I love cocktails," he says. "They're the creation of a bartender the same way an entrée is the creation of a chef."

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch