Bitters + Bottles Subscription Box Review – August 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. If you sign up for a subscription, you will begin with Box 1. This is a review of Box 4.
At the start of the subscription, Bitters + Bottles provides the option to add a set of bar tools for $55. To see what’s included in this set check out my first Bitters + Bottles review.
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 note about this month’s shipment and a new collection of recipes.
This box’s theme is “The Big Easy,” and this month’s recipes spotlight classic New Orleans cocktails.
James E Pepper Rye (750 ml)- $25.50
Rye is a classic American spirit that’s often featured in cocktails from New Orleans. James E Pepper Rye is “vibrant and full bodied, [with] notes of spice, chocolate, cloves, and honey.”
St George Absinthe Verte (200 ml)- $25.99 (on sale for $19.99)
St George Absinthe is made from a brandy base and is flavored with star anise, lemon balm, hyssop, meadowsweet, basil, fennel, tarragon, and stinging nettles. Famously, absinthe also contains wormwood, which was once believed to cause imbibers to hallucinate.
Bailly-Lapierre Blanc Brut Reserve (375 ml)- $9.50
Two of this month’s cocktails, the French 75 and Death in the Afternoon, contain sparkling wine. It’s a prominent feature of many New Orleans cocktails, and it’s a great way to add crispness and effervescence to a drink.
Peychaud’s Bitters were created in New Orleans and are usually called for by name, according to Bitters + Bottles. The distinct anise flavor sets Peychaud’s apart from other aromatic bitters, like Angostura.
2 oz. Atomizer– $4
Often, cocktail recipes will call for a glass to be “rinsed” in a particular spirit. To cut down on the waste that comes from swirling spirits in a glass (and then discarding), Bitters + Bottles has included an atomizer bottle. Spritzing a glass with the required spirit, they say, is a good way to coat it while controlling volume and limiting waste.
Bitters + Bottles includes five classic cocktail recipes with each shipment. This month’s recipes are: Death in the Afternoon, French 75, Sazerac, Frisco Sour, and Vieux Carré.
I decided to make a Frisco Sour and a Vieux Carré.
According to Bitters + Bottles, the Frisco Sour isn’t especially old or likely to have originated in San Fransciso. Instead, it represents an important update to the classic sour formula, which includes a spirit, citrus, and sweetener. The Frisco Sour swaps liquor (Benedictine) for the traditional simple syrup. It’s delicious and immediately got me thinking about ways to craft my own sour recipe. I’m thinking I might try mixing gin, lemon juice, and the Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup from last month’s Hampton’s Lane box!
Unlike the Frisco Sour, the Vieux Carré has lots of history. In French, Vieux Carré means “old square,” which is a reference to New Orleans’ French Quarter. This cocktail is a mix of 7 different ingredients, but they’re perfectly in balance and create a delicious, complex drink!
The Verdict: This is my fourth installment from Bitters + Bottles, and I really look forward to seeing what cocktails will be featured every month. I love that each box is curated around a theme, and this New Orleans box is definitely my favorite one yet. I lived in The Big Easy for a little while after college, so this box brings back some really great memories. (Though, admittedly, I was more interested in Hurricanes than Sazeracs back then…) In terms of value, the ingredients in this box add up to about $70. Ideally, I’d like to see the products meet the $95 cost of the box, but I appreciate that there’s added value in the curation. I also love that every box gives me a great excuse to have friends over and work on my bartending skills!
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