The Basics History & Trends

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been for These Bottles


Some booze bottles seem special before you ever get a whiff of what’s inside. Maybe it’s a soft curve in the design or a compelling color scheme, but something about these vessels attracts the eye, and therefore has a better chance of attracting the dollar.

As more and more spirits enter an increasingly crowded market, brands are doubling down on their bottle game. After all, a bottle must plead its case upon first sight, in order to get their coveted spot on back bars, in bar carts, and on liquor store shelves.

For instance, Kentucky Peerless, a barrel-proof rye whiskey, found its bottle in Georgia at Verescence, an American glass manufacturer that launched in 1896 and is known for working with cosmetics brands and perfumes. Peerless is its first foray into the world of alcohol. For Cordell Lawrence, the distillery’s director of global marketing and strategy, Verescence’s background in luxury goods more often found in a department store rather than a bar made them the perfect choice.

Kentucky Peerless’ whiskey bottle has a pedestal and round, metal cap. The company went so far as to have an official trademark dress certificate made for the shape and design of the bottle so that it can never be a stock selection.

And it didn’t even take them that long to come up with the design. “Amazingly, our first design was practically the finished product,” says Lawrence. “Other than a few minor adjustments, affecting the fill level, we didn’t make changes to what we were presented.”

There’s an unanticipated sustainability element, too, to choosing a pretty bottle that no one wants to throw away. “The feedback has been that countless bars and restaurants have chosen to use our empty bottles as water bottles,” Lawrence says, “which is a high compliment to our design.”

Not all brands land on the perfect vessel with the first swing of the bat. Tequila Partida, which comes in a teardrop-shaped bottle, went through more than 600 ideas over four months when it was preparing to launch in 2003. Its goal, according to founder, chairman and CEO Gary Shansby, was to serve up a tequila that could appeal across genders and be graceful while in use.

“I wanted the Tequila Partida bottle to be of contemporary Mexican design, friendly and an easy hold and pour by bartenders as well as consumers,” says Shansby. Each bottle also has a tag with a recognizable Aztec bird symbol, which is wearable as a bracelet, again promoting that element of reuse.

Other bottles, like Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, tell an entire cultural story. To fully embody its name, which means “Italian” in Latin, the bergamot liqueur is modeled after a Roman column, and its distinctive turquoise color brings to mind the waters off the Amalfi Coast. The stopper even features a depiction of Bacchus, the god of wine, harvesting bergamot oranges in the style of Leonardo Da Vinci with a black-and-white rim that suggests Michelangelo’s Santa Maria Novella Basilica in Florence. Not content to leave it there, the creator, Giuseppe Gallo, made sure that the bottle’s base is shaped like a halved bergamot.

The list of exquisite well-made bottles goes on, and as we’re deep in the holiday season, it helps that more and more there are gifts to give that are as beautiful on the outside as the liquor is tasty within.