Liquid Poetry: Variations on a Theme

When you’re young, you figure out the world by executing actions and then observing the ensuing consequences. Close your eyes, and everything gets dark. Drop a rubber ball, and it bounces. Pull the cat’s tail, and…well, let’s not do that again. That didn’t turn out so well the first time. The same goes for cocktails. […]

Embitterment Summer Update: 2016

This month, we take a break from our “Liquid Poetry” series to give you an update on what we’ve been up to all summer long!

New MD and VA Retailers

For those of you in Maryland and Virginia, we’ve got some excellent new friends carrying Embittement Bitters. In the Commonwealth, head over the Middlesburg and check out Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery. Sample some excellent ciders on draft in their tasting room, and learn about the various liqueurs, brandies, and rums they distill as well. On Kent Island in Maryland, head over to Blackwater Distilling or White Tiger Distillery–two very different and very delicious experiences. Blackwater boasts a growing selection of MD spirits, including vodka, several varieties of rum, and even some flavored spirits and liqueurs. White Tiger, on the other hand, focuses on Laolao (Laotian Rice Whisky) and Coquito (a creamy, Puerto Rican delicacy).

When you visit our new partners, be sure to sample their products, pick some up for your home bar, and grab a bottle of our bitters before you hit the road! Check out our “Purchase” page for a complete list of Embitterment retailers.

Feature on the Speaking Easy Podcast

Speaking Easy Podcast

This August, Embitterment Co-Founder Eric Kozlik had the chance to sit down with Alex Luboff and Jordan Wicker of the Speaking Easy Podcast. In their hour-long session, they covered everything from bitters, to first cocktail stories, to cocktail culture, and almost everything in between. Be sure to check out the Embitterment Episode, and make this fun and informative podcast part of your weekly listening routine.

Tales of the Cocktail 2016

What happens in New Orleans every July?

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Liquid Poetry: Terroir

Whether you’re out enjoying a cocktail at a bar or mixing one up in your own home, it’s easy to forget the means in favor of the delicious end. That is, it’s easy to focus on the flavors in the glass and forget about the natural and human forces responsible for creating those flavors.

About Terroir

Go to any distillery, and they’ll be quick to educate you on the origin of their grain, the quality of their botanicals, and even the source of the water they use. Regardless of how much that might either bore or stimulate you, it’s important stuff! The flavors in the spirits we imbibe are influenced heavily by terroir, which is a French word that refers both to the land itself and to other natural processes like weather and climate.

Here are just some of the important aspects of terroir that impact the spiritous flavors in your glass:

Soil Type, Elevation, Water Quality, Water Availability, Water Table Depth, Air Temperature, Humidity, Wind, Air Quality, Sun Exposure, Proximity to Salt Water

Image of Terroir

From a scientific standpoint, terroir makes a lot of easy sense. All alcoholic beverages come into being as a result of chemical reactions, and chemicals are very particular things. Change something about the structure of the chemical, and you change the nature of the reaction; change the nature of the reaction, and you change the end flavor experience of the product.

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Liquid Poetry: Cocktail as Death Wish

A few weeks ago, I sat down with a poet friend of mine and we tried to figure out what exactly cocktails are. At one point, he turned to me and said, “in fact, cocktails are pretty bad for you…they’re sugar and poison.” And he’s right, which got me thinking.

Are those of us who revel in making and enjoying cocktails merely looking for ways to soften and speed along the process by which we arrive at death? You certainly wouldn’t like to think so, but when you start seeing your Martini as “sugar and poison,” a slightly dark feeling tends to creep over you. You feel almost like one of those sailors who ditched Odysseus on the Isle of the Lotus Eaters, except that happy lotus feeling has just worn off somehow and you think:

Huge Mistake

It’s important to admit that getting hooked on cocktails is at least a tiny bit self-destructive. Just ask your co-worker who comes in to work every morning with his green smoothie, still glowing from his hot-yoga-juice-cleanse-crossfit-spirit-run. He’ll tell you, and he’ll carefully mask his condescension with upbeat, generic concern and health food evangelism (oh boy!). More important than realizing that drinking to excess is bad for you, though, is finding a way to negotiate your relationship with alcohol so that it enhances your life, rather than shortening it.

Building a Ship of Death

In his poem, “Diet Mountain Dew,” Timothy Donnely’s speaker crafts a love letter to a beverage that is most definitely taking years off his life. Speaking to the eerie, lime-green liquid of his affection, he begins:

I have built my ship of death
and when a wind kicks up
I’ll cut it loose to do its thing
across the unnamed lake of you

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Liquid Poetry: The Problem with Recipes

Sometimes the most accurate definitions aren’t the ones we find in dictionaries, the most thrilling flavors not spoon-fed to us by recipe books. The great masterpieces that now hang on museum walls were not “paint by numbers” projects, which is why we know them as “Mona Lisa” and “American Gothic,” instead of “smiling lady” or “creepy farmer couple.”

Creepy Farmer Couple (Actually Entitled "American Gothic")

Creepy Farmer Couple (Actually Entitled “American Gothic”)

When something is special, we give it a name, and that is especially (sometimes dizzyingly) true in the world of cocktails. Not only are cocktail names mnemonic devices that allow both new and experienced bartenders to develop a single-phrase shorthand for a list of ingredients and combinatory techniques that comprise a drink, but they also become a repository for all the wonderful (or not) sensory experiences that we associate with a given cocktail. Read more


Liquid Poetry: A Taste of the Season

“I want it to taste like I’m drinking a cup of dirt,” my friend Sarah once told me, referring to her coffee preferences.

Most people wouldn’t phrase it this way, but Sarah has raised chickens. She has worked on a clam dredge in the Atlantic. She is a poet. I think Sarah knows exactly what she wants her coffee to taste like, and I think I know why. It has something to do with nourishment (which is going to be a recurring theme here in the Liquid Poetry series), something to do with internalizing and participating in nature’s rhythms so that we feel in sync with the world.

“Black Tea,” A Poem by Jane Miller

All of this reminds me of the remarkable poem, “Black Tea” by Jane Miller, in which we meet a speaker who is immersed in two very experiences at the same time: remembering a past lover and drinking a cup of tea.

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Directive: A Starting Out Point

We live in spaces where there is too much information all the time—information designed to get us to buy things, every statement a marketing pitch. The goal of what I am about to begin is to provide a retreat from all that noise propped up by dollar signs. At Embitterment, Ethan, Russell, and I have the good fortune to make a product that is fun to sell, so we don’t feel the need to spend every waking moment pushing our bitters. We think that there needs to be time for fun and for contemplation of what is good and beautiful in the world, so we’ve set aside space on our blog to do just that.

From here out, when you see one of our Liquid Poetry posts, take it as a signal to slow down, tune out, and read something that luxuriates in the beautiful space where flavor and art mingle. You can expect a healthy dose of poetry, a bit of humor, and some fresh spins on things we may tend to overlook or take for granted. In this first post, I look at a strange little poem by Robert Frost and explain how it acts as a sort of “tuning fork” for all the posts that will follow.

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Happy 2016 from Embitterment!

It’s 2016 now, and we’ve been a bit quiet lately. But, after hearing all the excellent stories and feedback from folks who gave and received our bitters as gifts this holiday season, we decided to make some resolutions.

Surprised to see such bitter people buying into the whole “New Years Resolution” gimmick? Understandable. But you know what? Having met up with such a fantastic group of customers, colleagues, and partners in crime over the past year and a half may have just softened us up a little.

Here are our top 3 resolutions for 2016 as the Mid-Atlantic’s bitterest and most handsome premium-quality craft bitters company:

Resolution 1: More Everything

As bitters producers, we recognize that sometimes less really is more—a few small dashes of bitters, a single squeeze of fresh lemon zest—but the whole “less” thing can only go so far. This year, we’re dedicated to giving you more of everything that got you excited over the past year and a half. More recipes. More special events. More collaborations. More blogs. More cocktail porn. And yes, more bitters.

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Drinkonomics: The Aviation

Hey there all you bitters fans, we’ve got a killer cocktail recipe for you, but first we want to extend a giant THANK YOU to all of those who made it out to THE BEACH at the National Building Museum and helped us win a friendly competition against our Union Kitchen compadres, Element [Shrub] and Wild Roots Apothecary! There were some great cocktails flowing, but we’re glad that our Hibiscus Caipirinha featuring Lyon Distilling Co. White Rum won the hearts of the crowd with its vibrant hue and top-notch sip-ability.

Come Chill with Embitterment

Speaking of awesome cocktail events, we’ll be hanging out with our friends at Salt & Sundry on Friday, August 7th from 5:00-7:00pm at their Union Market location to talk about some bitters and sample an awesome cocktail with the good people of D.C.

What cocktail?

Glad you asked. It’s our take on the classic Aviation Cocktail, featuring Embitterment Lavender Bitters!

The Lavender Aviation: A True Crowd Pleaser

Today we’re featuring a classic recipe with a floral kick, courtesy of Embitterment Lavender Bitters. This incredible cocktail consists of:

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Virginia is for Bitters

Hey all, catoctin-creek-distillery

In case you’re not following us on social media (which you should be…) Embitterment is pleased to announce that our Aromatic and Orange Bitters are now on sale in the tasting room at the Catoctin Creek distillery in Purcellville, Virginia!

We’re extremely excited to be carried by D.C.’s foremost local rye producer, and for a number of reasons.  First, Catoctin Creek is known for their sustainability efforts and their 100% organic, Kosher products.  Second, they have a (well-deserved) reputation for producing exquisitely-crafted pre-prohibition-style rye whisky, as well as excellent brandy and gin.  We here at Embitterment have been enjoying their products for a long time, and we’re proud to stand alongside Catoctin Creek as the District’s go-to for the makings of an excellent cocktail.

What does this mean?  Well, if you live in Virginia, it means that Embitterment Bitters are now available in your state!  So what are you waiting for?  Get yourself down to Purcellville, take a distillery tour, enjoy a tasting, and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Roundstone Rye and some bitters on your way out.  It also means that you can look forward to some awesome cocktail recipes from us featuring Catoctin Creek products…and maybe even a collaboration or two down the road.  Who knows?

Stay thirsty, stay bitter.

-The Embitterment Team