Reporting Natalie Nyhus
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Bitters usually bring one thing to mind: an Old Fashioned cocktail.
“Bitters have been involved in cocktails since the 1800s. In 1806, the first cocktail — which is now called the Old Fashioned — was just spirits, bitters, sugar and water,” said Bittercube proprietor Nick Kosevich.
But it’s not just about cocktails anymore. Bitters are also used in sodas, food, even cotton candy.
Bitters, a highly concentrated alcohol, were once thought to cure sea sickness in sailors. A couple hundred years later and bitters are still floating around, now in drinks.
“You use an eye dropper of our bitters in a cocktail, and the flavors just explode. As soon as you dilute that bitterness, all the other flavors come to play,” explained bitters expert Kosevich.
Kosevich is one half of Bittercube, a Twin Cities duo breaking into the bitters world. He and his business partner Ira Koplowitz make their bitters from scratch in a Madison, Wis. lab.
“What we’ve done is made liquid spices,” said Kosevich. “It’s a process very drawn out. It takes six weeks. The process is called maceration. It’s kind of like infusing, but with over 140 ingredients.”
They’re made from barks, fruits, flowers, spices and herbs soaked in high-proof spirits.
And they aren’t just for cocktails anymore.
“You can take whatever you’re drinking at home and create a whole new flavor profile. I like to drink San Pellegrino with cherry bark bitters religiously,” revealed Kosevich. You can even bring them to your plate.
“I haven’t made a vinaigrette in 3 years without using the Jamaican #1 bitters. We have pastry chefs using them in their baking and frostings.”
With three years under their belt, Bittercube says their biggest customer surprisingly isn’t the bartender. It’s you: the home consumer. According to Kosevich, “More and more people are excited about cocktails, the history of cocktails. They’re an American tradition.”
Bittercube sells their bitters at several local liquor stores and also online.