With speakeasy-style bars upping the craft cocktail ante, it’s likely your home-based concoctions have been lagging behind. Mine certainly were before I fast-tracked my home bartending skills using a swathe of clever products from Only Bitters. The brainchild of Sophia Dimitropoulos and her husband JD, this online store offers “a vast range of bitters, tonic syrups, artisan syrups, shrubs and bitter liqueurs... over 650 products, and growing!”
They’re snapped up by “cocktail enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals alike”, starting with “the staple bitters – Angostura, Regan’s and Peychaud’s” and moving through to specialised bitters - “chocolate, cardamom, rhubarb, and even truffle.” Now if you haven’t got into shrubs yet, you need to! Sophia tells me these drinking vinegars are “made with fruits, vegetables or spices soaked in vinegar and cooked or blended with sugar.” You can use them as adult cordials, or with soda in a long cocktail.
And if you’re sick of hunting down FeverTree tonics, consider the Only Bitters range of thirty-odd tonic syrups. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co Small Batch Tonic Syrup [$19.95/503ml] made my home-based gin and tonic better than most bars using a simple splash of soda. Sophia and JD gave me their top picks to start your home bar: “try Regan’s Orange Bitters (a great all around bitters), Liber & Co Spiced Tonic Syrup (for a killer G&T), Pickett’s Ginger Beer Syrup (Dark and Stormy), El Guapo Orgeat syrup (tiki drinks), and Shrub & Co Apple shrub (a delicious mixer for alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktails).”