GSN Review: Tippleman’s Mixers & Syrups

Island-Orxata-front_1024x1024The Good Spirits News staff reviewed the original Bittermilk cocktail mixer portfolio back in 2014.  You can read about it here.  Then they added a few more flavors which you can read about here.  Now, Joe & Mari-Elena Raya, the husband and wife team from Bittermilk recently released a selection of hand crafted syrups geared toward the working bartender.  As Joe says, “I feel like if you can take the labor out of someone’s job, it leaves them more time to innovate and experiment with flavors.  We’re not trying to make a bar into a SodaStream, we’re just trying to consolidate the bar: You can’t run out of something in the middle of service.” They’ve released six different flavors, all of which can be used in a myriad of cocktails.  Personal favorites include the Oleo Saccharum and Orxata the former of which is crucial to many punches and the latter which is a Spanish relative to Orgeat.
  • Burnt Sugar
    • Organic cane sugar kettle-cooked to a rich black color and bold bittersweet flavor.  Try this in an Old-Fashioned or to give some mystique to a Tiki style libation.
  • Smoked Maple
    • Organic B Maple syrup slowly cold smoked with smoldering bourbon soaked Willett barrel staves.  Maple is a natural for Bourbons, Ryes and anejo rums.
  • Lemon Oleo Saccharum
    • Hand peeled citrus that has been saturated in organic cane sugar to express natural lemon oils and flavors.  Try this in Fish House Punch, or in an upscale Lemon Drop.
  • Falernum
    • Robust syrup made with juiced ginger, fresh lime peel, and freshly ground tropical spices.  A must for a Zombie or a Corn ‘n Oil cocktail.
  • Island Orxata
    • Orgeat-style syrup made with cracked corn, toasted sesame, and natural essences of allergen-free bitter almond and jasmine.  Fantastic in Milk Punch and the classic Mai Tai, this version also works great in a Scorpion Bowl.
  • Ginger Honey
    • Juiced ginger blended with organic wildflower honey to make a rich syrup.  Try a touch of this in a Dark and Stormy or a Bee’s Knees cocktail.

For more information go to Tipplemans

GSN Review: Cocktail Kingdom Bitters

imagesIf you still live under a rock somewhere, then you probably haven’t heard of Cocktail Kingdom. Purveyors of ultra high quality barware, replicas of rare cocktail manuals, bitters and syrups; they have now launched their own line of cocktail bitters.  The falernum bitters were crafted in conjunction with Blair “Trader Tiki” Reynolds, while the wormwood bitter recipe was spearheaded by SeanMike Whipkey from the Scofflaw’s Den website.

177995-cocktail-kingdom-falernum-B1Barrel Aged Falernum Bitters – Falernum is one of those flavors that rarely makes an appearance outside of tiki and faux tropical drinks.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s inappropriate in let’s say, a rum old-fashioned, vodka martini, or even a margarita.  The thing about traditional falernum is that it combines flavors that are sour, nutty and spicy in a highly sweetened base.  The Cocktail Kingdom bitters take away the sugar and leave you with nothing but the basics.  The initial taste is of bitter and sour lime, along with just the slightest hint of almond.  But, the real killer here is the clove.  It just nails it, and adds the perfect touch of intrigue.  These bitters fill a gap in the field.  GSN Rating: A+

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177994-cocktail-kingdon-wormwood-B1Wormwood Bitters – At first, the thought of ingesting wormwood seems counter-intuitive.  Yet, there is a historical precedent for these.  When absinthe was illegal, a few drops of wormwood bitters added to an anise flavored liqueur would approximate the flavor of absinthe.  Wormwood is known to be one of the bitterest plants on the earth, so it makes sense that it would tone down the relative sweetness of a liqueur.  These bitters are intensely bitter in conjunction with an amazing load of peppery spice.  Try these in a Sazerac (along with Peychaud’s) and see what happens.  These will also add an interesting twist to lighter style whiskies from Ireland and Canada in cocktails.    GSN Rating: B+

For more information about Cocktail Kingdom go here.

GSN Review: The Bitter Truth Spirits & Liqueurs

PrintThe guys at The Bitter Truth are two of the busiest people in the spirits industry.  In just seven years, they have increased their product line to include not only several classic bitters styles, but also spirits, liqueurs and flower waters.  Every bottle feels just right, looks sharp and holds some amazing flavors.  GSN recently received a “care package” which contained samples of their latest offerings.  I in turn, offer my reviews to you dear reader.

gin-the-bitter-truth-pink-ginSpiced Navy Pink Gin (80 proof)
Visual: Delicate rose quartz.
Nose: Light juniper floral scent with subtle overtones of classic aromatic bitters.
Taste: Quite delicate and almost feminine in character.  The juniper is gentle and the bitters add a deeper and darker herbality which plays well with the gin base.  There is a slightly sweet and creamy mouthfeel not unlike Plymouth gin.
Finish: A lively and elegant finish which leaves you wanting more.
Overall: A lovely gin for classic martinis and G&T’s.  Very, very well done.
GSN Rating: A

ElderflowerElderflower Liqueur (44 proof)
Visual: Very light pale yellow.
Nose: Sweet, almost grape-like character.
Taste: Very sweet and fruity.  The elderflower dominates the spirit and sugar base.  The mouthfeel is light and not too thick and syrupy.
Finish: Lasting sweetness with slight spicy notes that add intrigue.
Overall: A great and versatile liqueur that will add wonderful fruity notes to any cocktail.  The essence of summer in a bottle.
GSN Rating: A

FalernumGolden Falernum (36 proof)
Visual: Warm sunny gold.
Nose: Intriguingly fruity like tropical punch with brief high notes of baking spices.
Taste: Quite sweet with a limeade overtone.  The spice plays a role in the background, but grows in strength as time goes on.  The ginger is particularly warming and yet doesn’t add too much heat.  I don’t pick up much in the way of almond.
Finish:  Medium long with a lasting presence of having just eaten key lime pie.
Overall: Definitely a more subtle and refined version of the few alcoholic falernums I’ve had.  Worthy of craft tiki cocktails.
GSN Rating: B+

imagesElixier Digestive Liqueur (60 proof)
Visual: Very dark chocolate-brown.
Nose: Herbal and vegetal, but not unpleasant.
Taste: Slightly bitter, but not to extremes.  There’s a nice balance of sweetness to offset any potential bitter intensity.
Finish: Fairly long with a flavor reminiscent of root beer barrel or horehound candies.
Overall: Very much in keeping with traditional digestives, and one that is infinitely more pleasant to taste than many other German herbal liquors.  No need to chill, unless you so desire.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: The Bitter Truth

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