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How To Succeed In Cocktails Without Really Trying

Who says you have to limit your chi-chi cocktail indulgence to the occasional adventurous order at some fancy downtown lounge? 

Bittermilk’s hand-crafted cocktail mixers (in gorgeous bottles, to boot), make it easy for the everyday enthusiast to enjoy schmancy cocktails without having to do any work, thanks to husband and wife team Joe and MariElena Raya.

It’s easy as pie, just combine one of the following three small-batch cocktail mixers with the booze of your choice (recommendations below), shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Tom Collins Cocktail Syrup

We’ve always loved the Tom Collins, a fizzy mix of gin, fresh lemonade and seltzer, and then we tasted this indie variation. Joe and MariElena  combine bitter (hops), sweet (sugar) and acid (lemon juice) to build a balanced, sippable drink. As they say, "the labor is in the bottle," so we can just enjoy. We'll drink to that.

We love that we can mix up a tall, refreshing cocktail with about as much effort as it takes to crack the ice tray: Just mix equal parts Tom Collins Cocktail Syrup, gin or vodka and soda water over ice in a tall glass. Done!

Smoky Whiskey Sour Cocktail Syrup

We especially like this one because the smokiness pairs perfectly with a smooth bourbon, bringing out all of the charred barrel flavors, and it highlights a hint of sweetness with some honey.

We like to pair this syrup with Kinnickinnic Whiskey from Great Lakes Distillery. Just shake equal parts whiskey and cocktail syrup with lots of ice until very cold, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass or a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel, and if you're feeling extra fancy, Jack Rudy Cocktail Cherries. Cheers! 

Charred Grapefruit Tonic

This isn’t your usual tonic. It has lemon and lime juice, cinchona bark (the source of quinine for tonic), fresh grapefruit and – what really puts it over the top – charred grapefruit skins. It’s bitter yet refreshing, especially good when mixed with equal parts vodka and soda water. Or, for the softer folks, just soda water. 

Build (bartender speak for mixing it in your glass) equal parts vodka (we love Boyd & Blair's Potato Vodka) or white rum, Bittermilk Charred Grapefruit Tonic and soda water over ice in a tall glass. Stir with a straw. Garnish with a lime wedge. Pretend you’re in a cabana. Repeat.

Here’s an idea: For an easy holiday party, set out a few bottles of your favorite booze alongside Bittermilk’s cocktail mixers, and let the guests help themselves.

Wham, bam, merci ma’am.

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