By Francine Cohen
One night, in the darkened basement of the Ace Hotel NYC, an industry pal reached into his pocket and said, “I have something for you.” Quickly our curiosity was satisfied, and dismissed was any fear we had that a “present” delivered in the carnival atmosphere of the 42Below competition might be risqué, when he handed us a dark brown apothecary bottle with dropper top. On the label…Sriracha Bitters.
Couldn’t wait to get to the bar and put them in a drink; the savory spiciness of the sriracha was so enticing that an immediate taste test on the back of our hands (and the hands of intrigued bartenders standing nearby) was necessary. Eyebrows up, eyes wide open was the universal reaction; these bitters packed a heated punch.
Though one respected bartender pointed out he’d prefer to break down the components and use real sriracha sauce in his drinks to get both the flavor and the heat he desired we all concurred that in bars where the “do it from scratch” ethos wasn’t the philosophy that Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters Sriracha Bitters added an exciting punch to ordinary (and not so ordinary) cocktails.
Perfect for both those craft bars, like White Star in Manhattan and Eau de Vie in Sydney, and more mass market neighborhood joints where a little pop goes a long way, Brooklyn Bitters Sriracha Bitters (and the rest in the line) are big winners.
Brand co-founder, Jason Rowan, shares the origin of this new line of bitters. He says, “Last spring when Mark Buettler was heading up the bar program at Dressler I’d stop in frequently and we’d consult on recipes and ideas. When he expressed an interest in experimenting with bitters I pretty much insisted he follow through–all his cocktail experimentations had been aces and I wanted to see what he’d do with bitters. The Sriracha bitters were the most improbable and awesome idea, but the more single flavor, seasonal ones like Rhubarb, Strawberry and Meyer Lemon wound up working really well, too. A big part of the concept was to be able to add the flavor of something fresh like peach into, say, a Manhattan, without altering the chemical makeup of the cocktail significantly.
The name came about after I’d travelled to Sydney and hung out at Eau de Vie (www.eaudevie.com.au), where they took a couple sample bottles I had and went to town with creating new, odd, and delightful drinks with them. They bar team was pretty insistent about wanting more. Upon returning we rallied and came up with a name that alluded to their trans-hemispherical birth, and recruited our designer pal Greg Needham to come up with some labels. We shipped those off to Australia and they’ve wound up being featured on Eau de Vie’s menu, which is incredibly gratifying. And after we handed some out to bartender friends we started getting requests for more. We set up proper production at The Bedford in Williamsburg, where the bitters are heavily featured on their menu. The new team at White Star is making good use of them, too. “
For more information about the entire line of Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters (Apple, Black Mission Fig, Blueberry, Meyer Lemon, Peach, Rhubarb, Strawberry) go to www.brooklynbitters.com. To buy them online go to www.formaggioessex.com