Bitters + Bottles Subscription Box Review – May 2015
Bitters + Bottles is a monthly subscription box that helps you build your home bar and learn how to use it.
Every month, they send full-sized spirits, mixers, and recipes to help you create classic cocktails at home. Each box builds on previous shipments, adding new bottles to your bar and new recipes to your collection.
Unlike many ongoing subscriptions, Bitters + Bottles consists of 12 shipments. So, after a year of subscribing, you’ll have a fully stocked bar and an arsenal of classic cocktail recipes.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription: Bitters + Bottles
The Cost: $95 per month (shipping is free).
The Products: 3-6 bottled ingredients plus the recipes to create classic cocktails at home.
Ships to: The following US states: CA, CO, DC, ID, IL, MO, NJ, NM, NY, and WA.
Looking for other boozy boxes? Check out the Drink Subscription Box Directory!
Bitters + Bottles includes a personalized kraft envelope- a nice touch, I think! Inside, I received a welcome letter, recipes, and information about bartools, garnishes, and glassware.
For the first shipment, Bitters + Bottles gives the option of adding on a $55 starter set of bar tools. The only bar tool I have is a wine opener, so adding this to my order was a no brainer.
The starter set comes with a modern hawthorne strainer, modern 4×1 jigger, modern bar spoon, modern shaker, and a pint glass.
Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey (750 ml)- $22.50
According to the Bitters + Bottles shop, “this bright amber Bourbon has a butterscotch aroma and oaky, relatively dry flavors that elongate into a nice caramel finish.” Buffalo Trace is a new brand to me, but my brother recently took a vacation to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and it turns out that Buffalo Trace was one of his favorite distilleries! According to some online research, it looks like Buffalo Trace is an excellent bourbon for a great price.
Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth (375 ml)- $18.99
Sweet vermouth can be consumed alone, as aperitivo or digestivo, or used in cocktails. Wine Enthusiast gives Carpano Antica a 95/100, which is an excellent rating. They describe it as being, “rich, complex and layered, boasting aromas of mint and other herbs, plums and figs, reminiscent of Madeira.”
Angostura Bitters (4 oz)- $9.50
Bitters are concentrated, infused alcoholic mixtures that are used to add flavor to cocktails. They’re an essential part of any bar, and Angostura Bitters is probably the most common variety. While the exact recipe is secret (reportedly, only 5 people know the entire recipe), it’s known that Angostura Bitters is made with over 40 ingredients – including tropical herbs, plant extracts, and spices.
Fabbri Amarena Cherries in Syrup (4 oz)- $10.37
This is definitely an upgrade from the bright red maraschino cherries I can buy at the grocery store! This jar contains wild cherries preserved in syrup. They can be used in Manhattans (or as a topping for ice cream).
Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6 (5 oz)- $9.99
Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6 is made with orange, spicy cinnamon, and clove. Reagans’ recommends using this blend to add a nice spice to a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Fever-Tree Ginger Ale (6.8 oz)- $1.57
I’m a big fan of Fever-Tree Tonic, so I was pleased to see their ginger ale included in this shipment. Apart from fresh citrus, Bitters + Bottles includes everything needed to make the month’s featured cocktails. This ginger ale is for the Horse’s Neck.
Bitters + Bottles includes five classic drink recipes with each shipment. This month’s recipes are: Mint Julep, Horse’s Neck, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Whisky Sour.
I decided to try making a Mint Julep, a Horse’s Neck, and a Whisky Sour.
I’ve never made a mint julep before, and I was surprised to find the recipe is incredibly simple! You start out by muddling some mint in a glass with a little simple syrup and then add crushed ice, bourbon, and a bit more simple syrup. This cocktail is a little sweeter than I usually go for, but I think it’s great. The muddled mint adds a delicious freshness- perfect for a hot day!
I was unfamiliar with the Horse’s Neck cocktail before receiving this box, but I’ll definitely be making it again. It’s a mix of whisky, bitters, and ginger ale and is garnished with a lemon spiral.
I don’t think I’ve had a Whisky Sour since my college days, and I’m pretty sure those were made with syrupy, bottled sour mix. A true Whisky Sour, I discovered, is a combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup. This is a fantastic drink. It’s sweet, tart, strong, and was our crowd favorite.
The Verdict: I’m really blown away by my first box from Bitters + Bottles. I had so much fun trying out some classic cocktail recipes, and I’m very impressed by the curation of ingredients and recipes. My husband and I love cocktails, but we usually lack the creativity and supplies to make them at home. I’m really excited that, over time, we’ll have a fully stocked bar and a solid collection of drink recipes at our disposal. (I’m planning to laminate all of the recipe cards Bitters + Bottles sends to keep in our mini bar.) I didn’t pay much attention to which glasses I was using for each cocktail this month, but next month I’m going to try and make sure I make the cocktails in the proper glasses so we get the full experience. As for value, the cost of the ingredients totals approximately $75. While this doesn’t meet the cost of the box, I’m still happy with the value. If you love classic cocktails and are looking to seriously upgrade your home bar, I would definitely recommend Bitters + Bottles!
What do you think of Bitters + Bottles?