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Sometimes, the best ideas arise out of boredom.
When downtown underground cocktail bar Foundation had to shut down due to the pandemic in March, bar staffers took the first three months of quarantine as an opportunity to renovate and deep clean the bar. Then, with little else to do, they started playing around with drinks and brainstorming ways they could get something out there for their dedicated customers. Cocktail mixes—the results of some experimentation—were the natural answer, as exceptional cocktails are what Foundation has been known for during the 10 years the bar has been open in its location on Fayetteville Street.
Foundation launched its cocktail mixes in late July, with a line of classic Old Fashioned mixes as well as a series dubbed “Home Alone,” which encompasses more experimental and seasonal mixes made with shelf-stable syrups.
Foundation bartenders Garrett Waddell and Kyle Hankin say they were already using seasonal North Carolina fruits and other produce to create flavorful, shelf-stable syrups for cocktails; making mixes was the simple and logical next step. Because of the preservation techniques and processes used to extract flavor from the fruit, the mixes also have a longer shelf life, thus broadening their flavors and rendering them preservative-free.
The Home Alone mixes include Wet Bandits, made with fresh watermelon, cucumber and lime; Keep the Change, a fruity mix of blueberry, lemon and aromatic baking spice; and Eating Junk Food and Watching Rubbish, which contains strawberry, lemon, hibiscus and Peychaud’s bitters.
“All of the flavor profiles were predicated on previous cocktails,” says Waddell. “They’re a culmination of a lot of different things we’ve been working on for a while now, that we just happened to time right when we needed to do to-go stuff.”
The names of Foundation’s mixes are inspired by some of the bar staffers’ favorite old movies. Since we’re all stuck at home, Waddell says, “Home Alone” was a natural fit, and, as any “Home Alone” fan will quickly recognize, the names of the cocktail mixes come from memorable quotes or scenes from the classic film. So as not to spend too much on graphic design or branding, the Foundation team made all of the packaging and labels in-house. “A lot of our labels are kind of crooked,” Hankin jokes. “You can definitely tell we did them ourselves.”
Each of the Old Fashioned mixes are sold in a delicate 4-ounce bottle, which makes about 20 drinks, while the Home Alone mixes come in 8-ounce bottles and can make either four or eight cocktails, depending on how rich or sweet you prefer them to be.
Foundation co-owner Vincent Whitehurst says the Home Alone mixes work pretty universally with any neutral spirit, whether you prefer vodka, rum, gin, tequila or even bourbon. Besides cocktails, Hankin says the mixes would also be good in non-alcoholic sodas, smoothies or ice cream. As well as being a great way to support one of Raleigh’s best local bars, the mixes are handy for all of us who lack the tools and skills to make complex cocktails at home.
“People love them,” says co-owner Will Alphin of the mixes. “I don’t think we’ve had any negative feedback.”
Like the wet bandits themselves, you’ll surely be thirsty for more.
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