My cocktailian home away from home is New Orleans. So much about the city has to do with cocktail history that it just makes sense that a new company specializing in bitters and syrups has established itself there. El Guapo started out as a supplier for a local bar in the Vieux Carré, saw the potential to reach a wider audience and grew from there. Interestingly, the owner Scot Mattox (an ex-Marine) named the company after his military nickname which literally means “handsome”. He also donates 10% of their revenue to the Semper Fi Fund and the Wounded Warrior Project. Definitely two worthwhile causes, and another reason to support the company.
Chicory-Pecan Bitters – First of all, the scent of these bitters is extremely appetizing. It encapsulates New Orleans in every way. Loose, flavorful and vivacious. The flavor is much milder than I expected, resembling a cup of coffee at Cafe Du Monde. It definitely pushes a coffee/chicory blend with a warm richness to it. The main issue I have is that there is NO alcohol in these bitters. This may seem like a small thing, but virtually all bitters are in a neutral alcohol base which allows the flavors to be intensified. I’m not sure that these will lend much more than a hint of the intended flavor when they become diluted in a cocktail. That being said, you can certainly add some grain spirit to these at home and come to a compromise. These definitely have potential as some of the best smelling and tasting coffee based bitters I’ve tried. GSN Rating: B-
British Colonial Style Tonic Syrup – An opaque reddish-brown. Quite tart with a lot of citrus that seems to outshine the typical bitterness of the quinine. You won’t need to add a squeeze of lime to your drink with this syrup. The flavor is well-balanced and quite bright. It works very well with a standard London Dry style gin. More juniper driven gins will also benefit from this style of tonic syrup, whereas gins with less character will have to take a back seat. I like this a lot, very easy to drink. I suggest using a ratio of 0.75 oz. syrup/2 oz. gin/4 oz. carbonated water. GSN Rating: B+
For more information go to: El Guapo Bitters