GSN Review: RAFT Botanicals Cocktail Syrups & Bitters

As the use of craft cocktail ingredients increases in popularity, there’s a movement underway to make them more approachable. One person leading that charge is Genevieve Brazelton, Founder of Portland, Oregon’s RAFT syrups and bitters.

Genevieve heads one of the few female-led cocktail ingredient companies and she’s on a mission to remove the intimidation factor from using artisan bitters and syrups. She hopes to utilize RAFT as a way to empower everyone “from professional bartenders to general consumers alike“ to create delicious cocktails with the best possible ingredients.

Genevieve’s love for an Old Fashioned inspired the brand’s creation in 2012 when she and her husband, Dan Brazelton, started The Bitter Housewife bitters. They later expanded their line with the RAFT brand of diverse syrups, bitters and cocktail kits, which together operate under the overarching artisan brand Improper Goods. Since the brand’s inception, the Brazeltons have believed creating cocktails should be fun “not precious or intimidating.”

  • RAFT and its sister brand, The Bitter Housewife craft syrups and bitters in small batches using all natural, sustainable and fair trade sourced ingredients, including 100% organic cane sugar.
  • Genevieve educates through unique flavors, cocktail kits, simple recipes and tips, knowing a great cocktail is a balance between strong, sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.
  • Genevieve encourages people to add them to non-alcoholic drinks, as well as using them in homemade dressings, marinades and even dessert recipes.

GSN was sent a sampling of some of their more unique products for review:

Hibiscus Lavender Syrup: A deep purple syrup that has an herbal and floral character with just a hint of spice. The lavender is a bit reticent, but the hibiscus flavor is nicely forward on the palate. This is a great syrup for white spirit cocktails that call for silver rum, blanco tequila and gin. Light and summery. GSN Rating: A-

Smoked Tea Vanilla Syrup: Dark brown syrup with an immediate smokey nose. The flavor comes from Lapsang Souchong tea and it is unique amongst all of the syrups I’ve tried over the years. The flavor is not overpowering, and the smoke is balanced with a touch of vanilla giving it a sweet and round character. Perfect for brown spirit cocktails that use American whiskey or gold or spiced rums as their base, this will also add an interesting edge to tiki drinks. GSN Rating A+

Cardamom Bitters: This is like tasting a mild Indian curry. Even though these are “bitters” these are milder and less intrusive in a cocktail than the usual aromatic bitters called for in most cocktails. At the same time, they elevate any cocktail that might call for the ubiquitous bitters by adding a spice blend not found elsewhere. There is a slight mintiness and citrus tang along with the spiced herb character.  Try these in place of Angostura, and also give them a try in a pisco sour. For agave based spirits, these will also fit the bill quite nicely. GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Improper Goods

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