New York Times features Lo-Fi Aperitifs Sweet Vermouth

Few things are more pleasurable than a great glass of whiskey, except for a great whiskey cocktail. Yet for most of us, it’s easy to get stuck in a mixer rut, bringing out the same ingredients time and again. While consistency is important when it comes to constructing your favorite cocktails, there is also an entire world of options to explore in addition to the spirit itself.

The dozen below represent some of the most exciting components I’ve experimented with this past year. All of them are easy to find in-person or online, and have the potential to elevate or shift the character of even your most tried-and-true whiskey concoctions.

Bittermilk cocktail mixers

The Old Fashioned is just about as straightforward a whiskey cocktail as you’ll find, and mixing up one of your own is a simple and relatively quick undertaking. Sometimes, however, the five minutes it takes to stir one up is just too long: You need that first sip now. For that, check out the cocktail mixers from Bittermilk. The Charleston, South Carolina-based company offers a wide range, and the No. 1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned mix is a standout. And while I’m not a fan of holiday-spiced beverages, their No. 7 Gingerbread Old Fashioned mix has become a guilty pleasure of mine recently, and, honestly, I don’t feel guilty about it at all.

Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill raw honey

It’s always smart to keep a batch of honey syrup on hand — you never know when you’ll have to shake up an emergency batch of Bees Kees cocktails! This raw honey is deliciously complex, with hints of flowers and oranges that elevate simple syrup to seriously impressive heights.

El Guapo bitters and syrups

Hailing from New Orleans, the bitters and syrups from El Guapo are reliably well-crafted and smart in composition. The sweet potato syrup is a fascinating and richer alternative to classic simple syrup, and the bitters are impressive across the board, whether you’re mixing up whiskey cocktails or ones based on gin, vodka, rum, and beyond.

Fast Penny Spirits Amaricano

Fans of bitter richness have always tended to flock to the great amari of Italy. This one — the name is a wink-wink portmanteau of amaro and Americano — is crafted more than 5,000 miles away, in Seattle, Washington. With components like Rainier cherries, cacao nibs, local truffles, and hops, it makes for an unforgettable Manhattan (I use Amaricano and Carpano Antica in mine) and a great digestif when sipped on its own.

Heimat Handcrafted liqueurs

Hailing from Mamaroneck, New York, Heimat has made a name for itself with its liqueurs that are crafted exclusively from New York-grown fruit when it’s ripe and in-season. Flavors like nectarine, blackberry, and black currant will not only lend lovely layers to any cocktails they’re added to, but also, possibly, make you feel healthier doing so, even on your second Bourbon Smash.

Lo-Fi Aperitifs sweet vermouth

The Napa, California standout produces a wide selection of amari and vermouths. This one, with its clove, vanilla, and cardamom character, is a natural fit for whiskey-based drinks, and brings a hint of the unexpected in place of the more usual vermouths.

New Liberty Distillery American Picon

Distilled in Philadelphia, this deeply bitter and wonderfully layered cocktail component doesn’t need to be used in volume to have a serious impact on a drink. Try combining a small amount with sweet vermouth in any whiskey cocktail that calls for it — you’ll find that it works especially well alongside the generosity of bourbon.

Ramazzotti amaro

One of the classics of the genre, Ramazzotti has been around since 1815. It’s excellent poured over ice, topped up with some soda water, and garnished with an orange peel like a grown-up root beer, but it also sings alongside rye and bourbon. The Manhattan Transfer is a classic and phenomenal example.

Runamok Vermont organic maple syrup smoked with pecan wood

This family-owned company (with a beautiful commitment to social welfare and environmental issues) started with a focus on maple syrup, but they’ve expanded to honey, bitters, mixers, and beyond. This excellent smoked maple syrup adds serious depth to a wide range of whiskey cocktails, and saves you the time of pulling out the smoker.

Simple Goodness Sisters

Belinda Kelly and Venise Cunningham started Simple Goodness Sisters in Washington State in 2018, and have been expanding their lineup of small-batch syrups every since. It’s very well-deserved success: The flavors are pure and honest, and the sweetness is well-calibrated. Their lemon herb syrup makes a whiskey sour sing, and the rhubarb vanilla bean is a fantastic foil for the spice of rye.

Tempus Fugit Spirits cocktail cherries

Fans of Tempus Fugit love their modern evocations of historically significant liqueurs, amari, and bitters. These kirsch-syrup-candied cherries are a terrific addition to their lineup: They lend a crunchy textural garnish to a cocktail, the syrup itself is fantastic, and they’re small enough to justify adding two…or three.

Twisted Alchemy Demerara syrup

Even a bit of this highly versatile syrup in a whiskey-based cocktail brings not just sweetness, but also a sense of underlying richness that shines a spotlight on the oakier, spicier notes of the spirit without overwhelming the other flavors.


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