Drinking and traveling tend to go hand in hand. The airport bar anecdotes and tropes are well worn territory, but often when you’re off wanderlusting, it’s the getting there where drinks are at their worst. Two companies have emerged in the past couple years, the original Carry on Cocktail Kit from W&P Design and the more recent Cocktail Kits 2 Go. Both make multiple cocktail options but we’re going to be showcasing their Old Fashioned option side by side this week for Old Fashioned Friday; to see which one will reign supreme.
Both Old Fashioned’s will be made with standard & classic Knob Creek 9 Year bourbon. When I go to a bar, this is my initial litmus test of skill for a bartender. I prefer my Old Fashioned’s whiskey forward and bitter rather than sweet, the 100 Proof [50% ABV] Knob Creek helps bring the bourbon flavours forward and we let the bitters and sugar or simple syrup do the rest. Let’s begin, shall we?
First up we’ve got W&P Design’s, Carry On Cocktail Kit. W&P makes a number of great products such as the Mason Shaker, Pineapple Cocktail Tumbler’s, and their latest release Boylan Heritage soda’s & tonics. Their kits have been around for a while now and also come in Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, & Bloody Mary.
- Price: $23.95 on Amazon.
- Makes: 2 Old Fashioned’s
- Included in Kit: Bitters, Sugar, Spoon, Linen Coaster, Recipe Card & Instructions
Like everything W&P Design does, their attention to detail shines through. A drawstring bag inside the tin to keep everything from rattling around, a linen coaster that’s just lovely [and possibly my favorite thing about the kit], and a very clean minimalist design aesthetic overall.
Their bitters are glycerin based which is to ensure you comply with FAA regulations about bringing alcohol on a flight; as a side note I reached out to FAA to clarify if bitters were considered alcohol or if their FDA classification as non-potable nullified that but haven’t heard back. That being said, considering W&P is based in New York, I would venture to say that their bitters are made by Fee Brothers [who are also glycerin based] and they taste remarkably similar to their Barrel Aged Old Fashioned bitters.
The sugar is very coarse, brown like demerara, and after a minute of stirring with the whiskey & bitters, still wasn’t fully dissolved. Maybe if their spoon had a flatter, dime shaped head it would be easier to crush and muddle it. Add the ice cube and stir for another fifteen seconds and your Old Fashioned is ready. The spice notes from the bitters really compliment the Knob Creek and despite the amount of sugar and how much of it still wasn’t dissolved, it doesn’t overpower the drink.
Overall this is the kind of Old Fashioned I would make myself at home, pick a bitters to compliment the whiskey you’re drinking, don’t make it too sweet, and keep things simple.
Next up we’ve got Cocktail Kits 2 Go, the Old Fashioned Kit. This relatively new company also makes a Daiquiri kit should you so be inclined. They made waves on the scene with their gorgeous letterpress-esque packaging and initially lower price point. Let’s see how they stack up.
- Price: $14.95 via Amazon.
- Makes: 2 Old Fashioned’s
- Included in Kit: Angostura bitters, sugar, spoon, & recipe card with instructions.
Where as the former kit shined on attention to detail, Cocktail Kits 2 Go’s Old Fashioned variant trades on simplicity. Classic Angostura bitters [in an adorable little bottle], white cubed sugar, and a lovely little wooden spoon, all set in foam packaging to keep it from rattling around. It’s slightly smaller overall than it’s competitor and all of this is likely to be why they can sell it for almost 33% less out of the gate.
After a minute of stirring the whiskey, bitters, with the sugar it wasn’t completely dissolved but nearly there. Add the ice, stir for about fifteen seconds and enjoy. This is the quintessential classic Old Fashioned, to a T. Bitter, not too sugar forward, herbal, and with plenty of whiskey heat & spice. If I’m not picking my own bitters off a shelf at the bar, this is exactly what I want to be served.
At the end of the day, both of these kits make an Old Fashioned. It’s whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water and both kits include everything you need to make yourself a couple of drinks on the go. When it comes to aesthetics, for me W&P’s Carry on Cocktail Kit takes the prize, that linen coaster, the overall packaging, it brings with it a sense of class and sophistication. When it comes to price and value, Cocktail Kits 2 Go takes the lead here [unless you can find W&P’s on sale], for an average of $7.50 + Whiskey per drink it beats its competitor’s $12.00+ whiskey per drink by a fair margin. When it comes to taste, the needle begins to wobble towards W&P again with their bitters. Despite being glycerine based and having slight chemical notes, they really blend nicely and give you an overall better quality Old Fashioned.
Is there a clear winner? Well that depends what you want out of your travel experience. If you’re a frequent flyer and short trips? I would stock up on a handful of Cocktail Kits 2 Go’s Old Fashioned offering. If travel is a more infrequent, special occasion for you, then maybe spring for W&P Design’s Carry on Cocktail kit to really take the in flight experience to another level. Either way, they’re both delicious and help take the edge off of your travels.
Have you tried either of them? Leave your thoughts in the comments.