Drops of Flavor: Bittercube

August 23 2013 - 9:00 AM

Just a few years ago, if you went looking for cocktail bitters at your local liquor store you might have found classic Angostura and perhaps Peychaud’s. Today, though, bitters are viewed as one of the most essential cocktail ingredients and can be spotted everywhere in nearly any flavor imaginable. Even a middling shop may stock selections as diverse as walnut, cardamom, celery and barbecue.

Bittercube LineupOne of the brands at the forefront of this resurgence is Milwaukee’s Bittercube helmed by bartending partners Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz. The duo’s roots reach to Chicago (Koplowitz is a Violet Hour alum) and Minneapolis (Kosevich worked behind the stick at now defunct Town Talk Diner), but since 2009 their eyedroppers of liquid flavor have spread into markets in almost a dozen states and the District of Columbia.

Bittercube has a stable of six standard expressions, – aromatic Bolivar and Orange, rich Blackstrap, spicy Jamaican #1 and Jamaican #2, and sweet Cherry Bark Vanilla, – but periodically releases special editions such as Door County Hops, a fresh and lively tincture on shelves now.

Bittercube - Nick and Ira MixingIn addition, the pair consults on bar and restaurant menus and trains staff for new or established programs. One of the first locations they collaborated with was Minneapolis’s Eat Street Social, a run-away success that was awarded “Best Cocktail Program in Minnesota” by the city’s Star Tribune this past May. This year, the restaurant group expanded into a second location, Northeast Social, where Bittercube again directed the bar design, installing soda fountains for house-made fizzies and using sushi coolers to maintain perfect garnishes. This summer, they debuted cocktail programs at two more new spots, Blue Jacket in Milwaukee and Scratch in Norman, OK.

Kosevich and Koplowitz were gracious enough to chat with me by email as they scuttled around the Midwest from opening to opening. Check out the interview here.

North Shore Gimlet

In the meantime, and are you interested in giving Bittercube a taste? The six pack variety set is available on the website for $52 (shipping included), or individual bottles can be had for about $10 apiece at liquor stores around Chicago. Once you pick up those bitters, give them a whirl in one of these great cocktails.

North Shore Gimlet – a spin on the classic gin sour

Rosehip Daisy – a maragrita variation with savory rosehip liqueur

Enjoy the Silence – funky Armagnac and funky bitters

Images courtesy of