The joy of being a cocktail hobbyist or enthusiast is partly about the creative ways one can mix, refine, and omit ingredients at will. There are also pre-made cocktail mixers and add-ins that are largely hit and miss but Bittermilk was a pleasant surprise in this regard.
To be frank, most cocktail mixes you find in your local supermarkets are pure garbage and you’d be better off making your own syrups and flavors more often than not. Early in my foray into cocktails, I used a number of these “just add liquor” mixes and have wasted countless dollars looking for one that matches what I eventually taught myself how to create.
In my local liquor store, periodically a new brand will get their time on the shelves and for whatever reason, I decided to give Bittermilk a try. The packaging was simple and eye-catching enough and a sampler box of three of their mixes, a bourbon old fashioned, New Orleans bourbon barrel-aged old fashioned rouge, and an Oaxacan old fashioned caught my eye.
I wasn’t quite ready to spend $50 bucks on something I didn’t know would taste like sewer water, so I opted for the single-serve bourbon-barrelled old fashioned mix and cracked open a bottle of Eagle Rare 10 Year to see if I yet again wasted money on the mere hopes someone gets the ratio right.
Bittermilk deserves a standing ovation for their bourbon barrel-aged old fashioned mix. It produced a solid, deep color and mixed expertly with the bourbon. The bite of the bourbon was effectively mellowed by Florida golden cane sugar, burnt cane sugar, orange peel, gentian root, cinchona bark, and the proprietary blend of spices.
Going back for seconds, I next used Rittenhouse Rye for the drink, producing a naturally spicier, sharper drink but no less delicious. The cocktail mix calls for two ounces of spirit and an orange peel garnish, and that peel is essential for the aromatics alone.
I’ve yet to check out Bittermilk’s other products, but my inbox is open should they feel charitable and would like me to review their other offerings. I’m curious about the Oaxacan old fashioned as it calls for mezcal, a spirit I’m still not sure I enjoy, much like my battles with scotch that I’ve shared here. The New Orleans style almost sounds like a reimagined Sazerac, so that too has my interest.
And please understand this final point. Try to learn how to make your own drinks from scratch and don’t rely primarily on mixers. Just use them on the occasion you’re making a bunch of drinks at a party or gathering, and always drink to your tastes.
Kudos to Bittermilk. Check them out here if you’d like to learn more.
As always, sip safely.
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Photo: D.L. Chandler