Bitters + Bottles Subscription Box Review – February 2016
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 10.
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 Box: Bitters + Bottles
The Cost: $85 per month + $23 shipping (Note that when I signed up for Bitters + Bottles, the price was $95 per month with shipping included. They have since re-vamped their subscription, and the price listed above is for the new model, which includes more bottles and fancier cards than the box I receive.)
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.
Every Bitters + Bottles box includes a note about the month’s theme and a selection of recipes.
This shipment’s theme is “Old Tom,” and this box is all about the Gin & Tonic!
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (750 ml.)- $34.99 (on sale for $30.99)
Old Tom Gin is marked by it’s intense botanicals and light sweetness. Hayman’s is balanced and mild.
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (750 ml.)- $34.99 (on sale for $31.49)
Luxardo’s cherry-flavored liqueur has been made in Padova, Italy since 1821.
“It has an earthy nose and a sweet, creamy wild berry flavor with spice.”
Small Hand Foods Tonic Syrup (8.5 oz.)- $10
Tonic syrup contains quinine from the cinchona tree, originally found in Peru. Many modern tonics use synthetic quinine instead of the real thing, but not this one. To craft their syrup, Small Hand Foods boils authentic cinchona bark in organic cane syrup.
Bitters + Bottles includes five classic cocktail recipes with each shipment. This box’s cocktails are: Hemingway Daiquiri, Ampersand, Casino, Tom Collins, and Martinez.
The Casino was invented in the 1910’s by Hugo Ensslin, a cocktail book author who, unfortunately, published his collection of recipes right before prohibition. Understandably, this limited its reach and left room for post-prohibition mixologists to take credit for his drinks. While he invented a number of different drinks, the Casino is one of his best. It’s a mix of Old Tom Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, lemon juice, and orange bitters and is garnished with a maraschino cherry.
How pretty is this cocktail? I love the botanical gin flavors with the citrus elements, and the addition of Luxardo makes this something truly unique and unexpected!
Gin & Tonic
Okay, so the Gin & Tonic isn’t technically one of the cocktails featured in this box, but it’s discussed at length on the info card. (I suppose it’s too simple for Bitters + Bottles to include on a recipe card.) I’ve never tasted tonic syrup before, so I wanted to give it a try. Bitters + Bottles provided the following recipe: 1 part syrup, 2 parts gin, and 3 parts club soda.
Apart from the unusual color, this Gin & Tonic was extremely familiar! I think the tonic syrup gave the drink slightly more flavor and a little less sweetness than traditional bottled tonic water, which was definitely a good thing. Consider me converted. From now on, I’m going to keep a bottle of tonic syrup in my fridge!
Verdict: The end of my subscription to Bitters + Bottles is in sight, and I’ll be sad to see it end. I’ve greatly enjoyed my cocktail education, and my home bar is stocked full. (I’ve actually finished a couple of the first bottles I was sent, so it might be time to think about restocking them.) The retail value of the items in this box totals $80, which is one of the highest values I’ve seen from Bitters + Bottles. While I typically like to see the value of included items meet the cost of the box, I do think it’s important to keep in mind that shipping full-sized bottles of alcohol is expensive. In addition to the actual products sent by Bitters + Bottles, I also think it’s important to acknowledge the intangible aspects of this box. For me, the education about spirits and cocktails I’ve received has been great.
Do you love classic cocktails? Have you tried Bitters + Bottles?