The folks at Milwaukee’s Bittercube have had a busy year.
We talked with founders Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz about developments for the now 10-year-old brand on the FoodCrush podcast in January. During the episode, we also discussed the impending Wisconsin release of four new liqueurs under Bittercube's new Heirloom brand.
"As the cocktail movement has continued to grow and evolve and transform, there have been an increasing number of imported liqueurs that have gained popularity in the States," notes Koplowitz. "But the need for really high quality domestically produced liqueurs was really what inspired us to create the Heirloom line.
"Essentially, we took the same approach we use to create bitters and incorporated it into the process, and we’re really looking forward to using this to extend the conversation about the domestic production of liqueurs."
The new liqueurs recently became available for distribution throughout Wisconsin, and Bittercube will be celebrating with a very special launch party at Lost Whale, 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., on Friday, May 3.
But before you get your first taste, here's what you need to know.
The liqueur recipes, which were developed by Bittercube in collaboration with Heirloom co-founder and longtime Bittercube employee, Brandon Reyes, are created using whole botanicals in combination with centuries old liqueur recipes to create four distinctive innovative products.
- Pineapple Amaro: this bitter digestif incorporates the flavors of tropical pineapple and warm baked goods with a nose of caramel, vanilla and cherry cola. Its fruity bitter character is lovely served as an after dinner quaff or in combination with spirits.
- Genepy: this intensely herbal liqueur incorporates 28 barks, flowers, roots, seeds, leaves and herbs into one balanced liqueur that aims to bridge the gap between more robust and subtle variations of the genre. Delicious served neat or as a cocktail mixer.
- Creme de flora: This amber liqueur combines the sweet, citrusy notes of elderflower with earthier layers of marigold, chamomile and orris root. It makes a lovely floral aperitif or nuanced addition to classic cocktails like the Aviation or Sidecar.
- Alchermes: Versions of this Italian liqueur have been staples in the cupboards of Italian bakers for centuries thanks to its warm, spicy character. Heirloom Alchermes capitalizes on the staple by incorporating comforting notes of cinnamon and clove with soft, round notes of rosewater and vanilla. Lovely served as a spritz or addition to a sour or fizz.
The liqueurs, which are produced to Bittercube’s specifications at Lawless Distilling in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were released in Minneapolis in fall, followed by California, Nevada and Arizona. As of mid-April, all four varieties are also being distributed in both Wisconsin and Indiana.
"The response has been great so far," notes Koplowitz. "It’s taken off pretty well in California and Minneapolis, and we’ve heard really positive things already in the short time it’s been available in Wisconsin."
In fact, Koplowitz says, it’s been gratifying to see the speed with which people have gravitated toward the product.
"As Bittercube, we’ve launched our reputation selling this very esoteric, often difficult-to-explain product that’s essentially sold by the drop," he says. "So it’s really refreshing to see the response to a product that people know and understand right from the start."
Get your first taste
Celebrate the launch of Heirloom Liqueurs with a first taste of the new spirits line during the brand’s launch party at Lost Whale, 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., on Friday, May 3 from 6 p.m. to midnight.
During the event, guests will be treated one complimentary Heirloom Cocktail. Additional cocktails will be available for $8 each. Sampling flights of the liqueurs will also be available for $5 each.
"We’re excited as all get out to host this release," notes Tripper Duval, co-owner of Lost Whale. "The Bittercube guys are super close friends of ours and the products themselves are unbelievable. We’ve had the good fortune to be able to work with the liqueurs over the past month or so, and they’re just really awesome. We can’t wait for people to try them."
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.