In an age of speed, efficiency, and optimization, few take the time to prepare food and drinks from scratch. We try to squeeze every ounce of time from our days and wonder why we don’t have enough time as we peruse our social media channels. I think the two greatest factors that keep people from exploring the world of cocktails are lack of time (patience) and the intimidation factor. Terms like “mixologist” can draw a line in the sand and are often used in an elitist manner. Don’t get me wrong – cocktail making is an art and a craft that requires knowledge and practice.
However, I believe products like Bittermilk Cocktail Mixers can help bridge this divide. There is enough of a hands on element that the budding enthusiast feels like a welcome and an active participant, as well as enough of an artisan element that the enthusiast is able to appreciate the end result.
Bittermilk was founded by a husband and wife team with experience in the food and bar industry. Joe and MariElena Raya currently have six different mixers in their lineup, but I kept it standard and went with the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned. Not only is the old fashioned my favorite cocktail, but this specific mixer is aged in used Willet bourbon barrels, which I found fascinating.
Before mixing into a cocktail I tried these alone so I would know what to expect. First, let’s look at the ingredients – burnt organic cane sugar, demerara sugar water, organic orange peel, organic cane sugar, spices, organic gentian root, cinchona bark, and tartaric acid. The mix is very syrupy and concentrated so I did my pre-mix taste test straight and then with some water mixed in to a very small portion. The burnt cane sugar is the ingredient that stands out the most. There is also an element that is borderline savory that is reminiscent of molasses with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. (Not necessarily a bad thing.) The citrus from the orange peel is present, but not as strongly as I would prefer.
To make an old fashioned all you have to do is add (1:4 ratio) the syrup to your favorite rye or bourbon in a rocks glass with ice. Stir generously and garnish with an orange peel.
I made two drinks, one with bourbon and the other with rye. I found that the burnt sugar flavor didn’t suit my palate, and there was somewhat of a medicinal quality to the drinks. That said, this dissipated as more ice melted, so I stirred the second one more in order to dilute the drink properly. The syrupy sweetness was hard to overcome while still providing flavor and not over-diluting the old fashioned. Don’t let this deter you from trying them for yourself though. I think the folks at Bittermilk have a great thing going and I will try one of their other products soon. Make a note in the comments section if there is a particular one you want me to review. I’ve also listed more info about their products below, so be sure to check them out!
Bittermilk Cocktail Mixers
You can check the availability of their products here with the link below. I found them here in Tulsa at the Fresh Market at 81st and Yale (not listed)
Pricing: 8.5 ounces for $9.99 (No. 1 recipe)
No.1 – Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned (8.5 ounces)
No.2 – Tom Collins with Elderflower & Hops (17 ounces)
No.3 – Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour (17 ounces)
No.4 – New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge (8.5 ounces)
No.5 – Charred Grapefruit Tonic with Bulls Bay Sea Salt (17 ounces)
No.6 – Oaxacan Old Fashioned (8.5 ounces)