Bottle #51: B&B

One of the reasons I cared about what happened to Grandma’s collection is because I helped create it. As I remember it, picking new minis for Grandma was part of every family vacation, and the kids were invited to help. And one of the rules was that we had to find something she didn’t already have.

Now, it’s not like there was a list. So there are bound to be some duplicates in these boxes, and I’ve come across my first one. Bottle #51 is Benedictine and Brandy, aka B&B. And so is Bottle #17. I had so little to say about B&B when that bottle came around that I told the story of Benedictine instead, and I don’t have anything more to say about B&B now. So what to do with this duplicate bottle?

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It’s not an exact duplicate. Bottle #17 is smaller, and from sometime before 1977. This new bottle is from between 1978 and 1995. It’s after 1978, because Benedictine switched to 80 proof from 86 then. It’s before 1995 based on how the label changed in advertisements. So it will be interesting to taste them side by side. But until then, not much else to say.

But that wouldn’t make much of an episode, so I’m going to use it as an excuse to talk about something else. As I noted in my episode for Bottle #17, bartenders were already mixing Benedictine and Brandy as a cocktail before the actual company made their jobs easier by pre-bottling it in the 1930s. So you could think of B&B as just a bottled cocktail.

If you pay attention to modern drinking trends, you will know that bottled and canned cocktails are having a moment. In the industry, they’re known as RTDs – ready-to-drink! The last few years have seen more and more RTDs hitting liquor store shelves. But this is by no means a new phenomenon, And B&B wasn’t even one of the first.

The company who claimed to invent the bottled cocktail is a name that will be familiar to My Tiny Bottles followers – Heublein. As I talked about for Bottle #26, Boggs Cranberry Liqueur, Heublein’s origin story is that they got their start in the late 1800s after mixing up a boatload of Martinis and Manhattans for an event that was cancelled. When the product was still tasty several days later, they started selling pre-bottled cocktails.

There is some evidence that bottled cocktails were already a thing, but Heublein was definitely at the forefront, and their canned and bottled “Club Cocktails” were huge sellers before Prohibition. Bottled cocktails sales were a big part of where Heublein got the money to buy an at-the-time unknown vodka brand, Smirnoff, which I just talked about in Bottle #50. Sales boomed again after World War II, reaching a peak of 1.5 million cases sold in the mid-1950s. In the years that followed the Club Cocktails faced increased competition from other producers like Duet and PartyTyme, as well as Heublein’s own line of “full strength cocktails” like the 11:1 Vodka Martini. “Just pour over ice” and serve!

By the late 1970s Heublein completely lost the thread, releasing a line of “hard” milks called “Malcolm Herefords Cows” in flavors like strawberry, banana, mocha, and mint chocolate. But by that time the whole concept of cocktails was on the decline, with beer, wine spritzers and flavored malt beverages taking bottled cocktails place in the market until just a few years ago.

In his great article about RTD history on the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis makes the case that “Each time the pre-made cocktail has gotten popular, the cocktail boom that preceded it soon collapsed. The bottled cocktails of the 1890s and 1900s gave way to Prohibition. The bottled and canned drinks of the 1960s and 1970s led to the Tequila Sunrise and Slippery Nipple.” That would imply that a new dark ages of cocktails might be just over the horizon. I sure hope not!

For way more fascinating info on canned and bottled cocktail history, check out that article from Wayne, as well as this great one from Smithsonian Magazine, and a fun one from Distiller Magazine that also includes info on what was happening outside the US.

Watch me taste this bottle with Chris Hannah.

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Bottle #51: B&B

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One of the reasons I cared about what happened to Grandma’s collection is because I helped create it. As I remember it, picking new minis for Grandma was part of every family vacation, and the kids were invited to help. And one of the rules was that we had to find something she didn’t already have.

Now, it’s not like there was a list. So there are bound to be some duplicates in these boxes, and I’ve come across my first one. Bottle #51 is Benedictine and Brandy, aka B&B. And so is Bottle #17. I had so little to say about B&B when that bottle came around that I told the story of Benedictine instead, and I don’t have anything more to say about B&B now. So what to do with this duplicate bottle?

It’s not an exact duplicate. Bottle #17 is smaller, and from sometime before 1977. This new bottle is from between 1978 and 1995. It’s after 1978, because Benedictine switched to 80 proof from 86 then. It’s before 1995 based on how the label changed in advertisements. So it will be interesting to taste them side by side. But until then, not much else to say.

But that wouldn’t make much of an episode, so I’m going to use it as an excuse to talk about something else. As I noted in my episode for Bottle #17, bartenders were already mixing Benedictine and Brandy as a cocktail before the actual company made their jobs easier by pre-bottling it in the 1930s. So you could think of B&B as just a bottled cocktail.

If you pay attention to modern drinking trends, you will know that bottled and canned cocktails are having a moment. In the industry, they’re known as RTDs – ready-to-drink! The last few years have seen more and more RTDs hitting liquor store shelves. But this is by no means a new phenomenon, And B&B wasn’t even one of the first.

The company who claimed to invent the bottled cocktail is a name that will be familiar to My Tiny Bottles followers – Heublein. As I talked about for Bottle #26, Boggs Cranberry Liqueur, Heublein’s origin story is that they got their start in the late 1800s after mixing up a boatload of Martinis and Manhattans for an event that was cancelled. When the product was still tasty several days later, they started selling pre-bottled cocktails.

There is some evidence that bottled cocktails were already a thing, but Heublein was definitely at the forefront, and their canned and bottled “Club Cocktails” were huge sellers before Prohibition. Bottled cocktails sales were a big part of where Heublein got the money to buy an at-the-time unknown vodka brand, Smirnoff, which I just talked about in Bottle #50. Sales boomed again after World War II, reaching a peak of 1.5 million cases sold in the mid-1950s. In the years that followed the Club Cocktails faced increased competition from other producers like Duet and PartyTyme, as well as Heublein’s own line of “full strength cocktails” like the 11:1 Vodka Martini. “Just pour over ice” and serve!

By the late 1970s Heublein completely lost the thread, releasing a line of “hard” milks called “Malcolm Herefords Cows” in flavors like strawberry, banana, mocha, and mint chocolate. But by that time the whole concept of cocktails was on the decline, with beer, wine spritzers and flavored malt beverages taking bottled cocktails place in the market until just a few years ago.

In his great article about RTD history on the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis makes the case that “Each time the pre-made cocktail has gotten popular, the cocktail boom that preceded it soon collapsed. The bottled cocktails of the 1890s and 1900s gave way to Prohibition. The bottled and canned drinks of the 1960s and 1970s led to the Tequila Sunrise and Slippery Nipple.” That would imply that a new dark ages of cocktails might be just over the horizon. I sure hope not!

For way more fascinating info on canned and bottled cocktail history, check out that article from Wayne, as well as this great one from Smithsonian Magazine, and a fun one from Distiller Magazine that also includes info on what was happening outside the US.

Watch me taste this bottle with Chris Hannah.

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