Shaken: cocktail kits by mail

Shaken is a UK startup that sells subscriptions to "the best cocktails you've ever made." Every month, they send you a handsome box with several bottles of rare and delicious booze, small-batch bitters, and a cocktail recipe explaining the history, chemistry and practice of some classic or novel cocktail.

You bring this stuff into your kitchen and play with it, mixing drinks according to the recipe or its variants, or your taste, according to your preference. They supply everything except ice, fruit, shakers and glassware, and each box has enough booze for four drinks.

The Shaken folks took over my old offices in London when I moved to LA this summer and I got to try some of their packages before I left. They turned me on to what is literally some of the best booze I've ever drunk (particularly the Plantation rums, which are finished in Cognac casks and taste like nothing you've ever tried before — there's one that finishes exactly like a smoky Islay, which is indescribably brilliant).

Shaken doesn't assume that you're a hardcore cocktail fan, and the recipes are simple to follow. But they strike a great balance for people who want to go beyond, with ideas for refining and improving the basic recipe.

The boxes are no-obligation and you can skip a box any time you feel like it.