My bartending at home doesn’t extend too far beyond pouring 7Up and Seagram’s Seven into the glass at the same time. But I might be more eager to experiment if the bottles actually did the mixing for me--and guaranteed a perfect drink every time. That’s the concept behind Enkaja, a clever packaging proposal that puts spirits, sodas, juices, and more in modular canisters that can be snapped together to create a range of cocktails. Think of it as mix-and-match mixology.
The concept, developed by the Dublin-based designers at Tatabi Studio, separates 24 common cocktail components into three categories: "bases," "spirits," and "touches." The first consists of typical mixers like Coke, cranberry juice, and lemonade. Spirits include all the usual suspects. And touches range from Cointreau and bitters to chocolate and lime. Each component is stored in a short cylindrical container with a plug on the top; when stacked, the foil seal on top of the plug breaks and the liquids mix together. Combine a spirit with a base and add a touch on top--using the included guidebook as a reference, or just following your own curious palette--and you’ve got yourself an idiot-proof cocktail.
Yes, you will be a better party guest in the long run if you just learn to mix a few classics the regular way and, admittedly, Enkaja ignores the sweet satisfaction that comes from concocting a good drink all on your own. But if Lego has taught us anything, it’s that snapping things together is irresistibly fun, and I have to imagine that snapping things together while drunk (things that get you drunk, no less!) is satisfying in its own right. In fact, it’s that simple joy of stacking that gave rise to Enkaja in the first place. "When we were kids," the Tatabi team explained to me, "there were these interchangeable pens that every kid wanted to have for drawing. In one pen you had different options and was really handy." While waxing nostalgic about that most-coveted school supply, it occurred to the team that the same idea might work for the spirit market.
In addition to being a novel take on mixing, the designers think the system could encourage unadventurous imbibers like myself to branch out a bit more. "Our idea is to give the people the possibility to explore," they said. The decision to use chemical symbols on the packaging was a way to visually reinforce that idea of experimentation.
Of course, for Enkaja to work, you’d have to find a single company that was able produce every ingredient included in the system--or find a number of drink makers willing to forgo their own brands and bottles for Enkaja’s proprietary containers. Neither seems especially likely. But that’s okay with me--I just recently discovered Scotch.