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Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters

Bitter Review: Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters (87/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
February 25, 2019

Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz come from a hospitality background. Prior to forming Bittercube they bartended and managed at the Town Talk Diner (Nicholas) in Minneapolis and The Violet Hour (Ira) in Chicago. Nicholas and Ira began producing Bittercube Bitters in 2009. Their company (based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) started by making one gallon batches with real botanicals. Although the batch size is now 210 gallons the handmade process has stayed largely the same as they source botanicals as close to origin as possible to create densely flavored bitters. Bittercube Bitters became available commercially in July, 2010. Today the bitters are found in nearly 30 states and abroad in Canada, Italy and Australia.

According to the company website the Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters are:

Woodsy and aromatic, these rustic bitters have a pleasant aroma of cocoa and bitter almonds, with flavors of vanilla, fennel and star anise.

The back label of my bottle gives me a slightly different profile telling me to expect flavours of Wild Cherry Bark, Madagascar Vanilla, and Cocoa with an ingredients list of Alcohol, Water, Spices, Vanilla Bean and Sugar.

When I put a few drops on my tongue to test the flavour for myself, I did indeed find the bitters ‘woodsy’ with a firm impression of woody tannins and tree bark. Bitter vanilla (taste some real vanilla extract and you will know the flavour) and bitter cocoa could both be tasted as was a light licorice like flavour (fennel).

When I further checked the Bittercube website, I found some recommended recipes, mostly gin based servings lengthened with seltzer, and one shorter ‘gimlet-style’ gin serving.

Frankly, I think the boys at Bittercube are selling the product short. I mixed both rum based and whiskey based Old Fashioned Cocktails with the Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters, and was pleased with both (the Rum Old Fashioned was my favourite). I also used the bitters with both bourbon and rum (each mixed with cola) with good results. The bitters compliment not just a wider variety of servings than advertised, they are also versatile enough to compliment a wider assortment of spirits than just gin. My favourite experiment involved the use of mescal as a base spirit (you can find that recipe below).

Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters deserve a good score (87/100) both because I found the bold flavour versatile in mixed servings, and because the cocktails I constructed tasted so good. Below I have shared two serving suggestions, one a rather simple rum and cola highball enhanced with Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters demonstrating that you don’t have to be a bartender to enjoy the enhancement the bitters can provide, and also a more elegant serving for those who are not afraid to break out their cocktail shaker and glasses.

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Suggested Servings:

Rum and Cola with Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters

2 oz El Dorado 5 Year old Rum
3 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
Ice
2 oz Cola

Rub the rim of a standard rocks glass or highball glass with lime
Fill with the glass with ice
Add Rum and bitters, then fill with Coca Cola
Stir Lightly, then drop in a lime slice

Please Remember to enjoy your libations in a responsible manner!

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Trovador with Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Montelobos Mezcal Joven)
1/2 oz Bols Apricot Brandy
2/3 oz Lemon Juice
1/3 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
dash Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
Ice
Orange slice for Garnish (option)

Chill a cocktail glass
Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with Orange slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-50 A concoction which if it doesn’t kill you will make you very ill indeed!
50-59 Not deadly, but not really useful either.
60-69 Limited appeal but useful for some cocktail styles.
70-79 Useful and versatile
80-89 Excellent/bold flavour enhancement for a variety of cocktails
90-94 A must-have addition to your home bar
95+ Turns your cocktail into the Elixir of the Gods!

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal
90 – 95         Gold Medal
95.5+            Platinum Award

 

 

 

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