Top Dropper

Finally, Midwest-made bitters for your bar

The mixologists behind Bittercube have stepped up their bitters game–and your drinks are primed to reap the benefits.

The artisan bitters–created by Milwaukee-based bartenders Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz (a Violet Hour veteran)–are the first of Midwestern provenance to join the ever-growing ranks of dropper-topped bottles that decorate the city's cocktail bars.

The creators eschew adding oils and extracts; instead, the six varieties ($8 each) are flavored by fresh fruits and whole spices. Orange bitters get their pungent zest from Valencia and Navel orange peels. Jamaican bitters mix island spices–clove, allspice, black pepper and ginger–with grapefruit and hibiscus, and come in a spice-forward version (No. 1) and a lighter, citrusy version (No. 2) that livens highballs like a gin and tonic or vodka seltzer.

The masterminds are partial to the cherry bark-vanilla, made with Madagascar vanilla beans and wood macerated in aged whiskey for six weeks. The resulting elixir has a cocoa-like flavor ideal for adding a dash of complexity to a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.

Find them at Lush Wine and Spirits, In Fine Spirits, Warehouse Liquors and Binny's, and in drinks at Chizakaya and The Charleston, whose cocktail lists recently received a Bittercube-led overhaul.

Use them with abandon in your home mixing–but be aware that the highly concentrated mixtures are far more potent than Angostura.