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August 22, 2010

Employees Only Lime Cordial and Grenadine
By Francine Cohen

Image by Jill DeGroff

Once again we find ourselves in the unusual position of being more than happy to write about a commercially produced product, this time it’s the Employees Only brand of non-alcoholic cordials (Lime Cordial and Grenadine) which were lovingly created by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric, partners in Employees Only (www.employeesonlynyc.com).

Of course we’re always partial to products handcrafted by the industry for the industry and, as usual, there’s a back story to our favorable impression of these new products – we had the pleasure of first sampling the prototypes last fall while hanging out with Jason Kosmas at the bar during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Preview(www.manhattancocktailclassic.com). Jason proceeded to share a taste of these all natural mixers that he (and we) was certain would be a hit, both with the mixology crowd and those bartenders who don’t have time/expertise/space to make their own grenadine and are looking for something far better than the existing lime cordials.

A few sips in and we put our names at the top of their waiting list, eagerly anticipating the Lime Cordial and Grenadine’s actual production and distribution. Thanks to the intricacies of mass production the flavor profile shifted a wee bit from what we first tasted but they are still delicious and, more importantly, they’re available now and easy to get your hands on.

What is it about these cordials we liked so much? It’s the intensity of flavor and the philosophy behind their entry into the marketplace that won us over. The piercing tartness of the lime screamed “fresh” to us at our little tasting, though we’ve noticed the recipe has changed a bit since the cordials went into formal bottling stage and now there’s the addition of a round mellowness to the flavor. The grenadine remains the same intense pomegranate flavor. Almost syrupy, this is something that should be used sparingly per drink but in a lot of them on the menu because it’s got great flavor. Heck, we’d build a whole section of a cocktail menu around drinks that contain grenadine, and sweet is not generally how our palate leans. But don’t get us wrong, this is not overbearingly sweet grenadine– the Employees Only product sits perfectly on the fence between sweet and dry.

Zaric explains how they came to be cordial producers, “Jason and I were always of the opinion that a bartender, just like a chef, has to create his ingredients from scratch if he is not satisfied with what is commercially available to him. When we opened Employees Only six years ago, this philosophy was our modus operandi. We started with lavender infused gin, Herbs de Provence infused dry vermouth, chai infused sweet vermouth, absinthe bitters and homemade purees and syrups. The next step was the Grenadine. The choices that were commercially available were terrible, to say the least, often artificially colored and full of high fructose corn syrup. We decided to reduce fresh pomegranate juice, add sugar to it and fortify it with Cardenal Mendoza Spanish brandy. We had an instant success. We loved the richness and depth of flavor and needless to say the cocktails in which it was used were granted an extra dimension because of that. Encouraged by this we decided that the next thing to be improved on is the lime cordial. Traditionally used in classics like the Gimlet or Rickey, the lime cordial has suffered a terrible fate. The commercially available options were less than satisfying, and, although some bartenders were advocating the use of fresh lime juice and simple syrup instead, Jason and I thought that that combination was not adequately replacing the real lime cordial. So we came up with a great recipe, combining lime juice concentrate with agave nectar and kaffir lime leaf for spice and accentuating flavors. The result was such a hit that we instantly started using it in Gimlets and other classic and contemporary cocktails. Once we realized that the products are good and have proven themselves, we decided to go to market with them. The formula for the Grenadine was adjusted into a non-alcoholic version and we added some spices to spark it and round it up.”

These cordials might spark up a new debate of the “tastes great, less filling” kind that defined Miller Lite’s ad campaign, but for the EO Lime Cordial and Grenadine the two sides of the coin are “tastes great, easy to use”; and both have their merit. Zaric comments, “The idea is to use this cordials as you would any other grenadine or lime cordial with the difference that our products were developed by bartenders for bartenders, both home and on premise. By the nature of their flavor composition the EO cordials offer significantly more creative freedom for bartenders while being really simple to use at home as well.”

Tastes great, easy to use, and good for you? Well, Zaric concludes, “And yes…our products are all natural, no artificial ingredients are used, no preservatives, no bullshit…”

There’s no BS about how simple this Gimlet recipe is:
Gimlet
1 part Employees Only Lime Cordial
2 ½ parts London Dry Gin
Shake with ice
Serve

****The EO Lime Cordial and Grenadine are currently available to on-premise accounts through Pipeline (www.pipelinebrands.com). Contact John Henry at: johnhenry@pipelinebrands.com (917) 842-9615. Pricing is as follows: Grenadine (12 oz.) $8.00; Grenadine (25 oz.) $15.99; Lime Cordial (12 oz.) $6.00; Lime Cordial (25 oz.) $11.99

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