Bittercube Expands Its Line
Milwaukee firm caters to home cocktail market
When bartenders Ira Koplowitz and Nicholas Kosevich began concocting bitters together in 2009, they had no idea they were entering such a growth industry. Four years later, their Milwaukee-based company Bittercube is manufacturing concentrated cocktail flavorings on a scale they never could have imaged, thanks to interest not only from the bar and restaurant industry, but also the expanding home cocktail market.
“Not only in Milwaukee, but all across the country there’s been such a huge resurgence of craft food and drink, so people are excited about what they’re eating, and they’re trying to source the most unique products they can,” Koplowitz says. “We’ve had to adapt to keep up with the demand. When we first started Bittercube, we were making 15 gallons of bitters at a time, which is larger than what we had been doing on the home scale, but hardly anything compared to what we make now. So we’ve continued to grow, which is interesting logistically when you’re using all-natural ingredients. From the start, our concept has been to use only natural ingredients, with no extracts of oils, so when we use vanilla we’re working with real vanilla beans, prepping them ourselves by hand. That can be daunting when you grow from having to use 75 vanilla beans to 3,000.”
When Koplowitz and Kosevich launched the company, they vowed to create occasional seasonal or limited-edition bitters to complement their normal line of six bitters and they haven’t let their expanded distribution stop them from following through. Later this month they’ll release a small run of Door County hop bitters, made from fresh-off-the-vine hops and traditional beer flavorings like feverfew and yarrow herb, finished with honey. They plan to follow it up this fall with a limited-edition batch of barrel-aged cherry bitters.
Koplowitz says that bitters are surprisingly versatile; some people use them not only for cocktails but also as a baking ingredient. For those looking for a drink that really highlights the bitters, he recommends a very basic twist on the classic Old Fashioned, which he makes using muscovado syrup (a simple syrup made with a 2:1 mix of brown muscavado sugar and normal granulated sugar) and a trio of Bittercube bitters. There’s no need to muddle any fruit for this one. “It’s just a beautiful cocktail that showcases simple flavors,” he says.
Bittercube’s Of The Older Fashioned
2 ounces Old Weller Antique Bourbon
.25 ounce Muscovado syrup
1 Eyedropper Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
½ Eyedropper Bittercube Orange Bitters
½ Eyedropper Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
Stir with ice until chilled, then strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a fat grapefruit peel.