It’s safe to say that Old Forester, the bourbon brand which has been around since 1870, knows a thing or two about whiskey. The brand also — and this should shock no one — knows a thing or two about whiskey cocktails, and it’s because of this knowledge that they have unveiled their second non-spirit product since the company was founded (the first, a lineup of jellies, was available in the 1960s).
Cocktail Provisions, a collection of syrups, bitters, and tinctures, was created by Old Forester’s master taster Jackie Zykan in partnership with the Louisville-based Bourbon Barrel Foods (you might know them for their Bluegrass Soy Sauce).
“[Cocktail Provisions] really speaks to the fact that Old Forester recognizes the importance of the cocktail in the spirit world,” Zykan says about the creation of the line.
Zykan, who worked on the bartending and bar managing side for over a decade, adds that the driving force behind what made it into the final lineup was each product’s ability to help the home bartender.
“We said, ‘Let’s think about what may be the most confusing for the home bartender and solve that problem first,” she explains.
The result of that query was the creation of two syrups, three bitters, and a tincture.
The first syrup, the Old Fashioned syrup, was inspired by the myriad ways one might taste an Old Forester Old Fashioned. Zykan says they wanted to make sure that, by using the syrup, anyone could taste an Old Forester Old Fashioned as if it were made by Zykan herself. (If you’ve got the syrup already and want to learn more about Old Fashioneds, check out the Beards, Booze, and Bacon episode dedicated to the drink!)
The second syrup also comes out of the classic drink canon. Oleo Saccharum is made with lemons that is a staple in punches and other cocktails around the world.
For bitters, Old Forester decided on three different flavors: Bohemian Bitters, Hummingbird Bitters, and Smoked Cinnamon Bitters. Bohemian Bitters are reminiscent of tobacco and made with sour cherries, clove, wild cherry bark, gentian root, anise, smoked black pepper, and cacao nibs. The Hummingbird Bitters are made with quassia, gentian, rose, cardamom, clementine zest, toasted almond, and orange peel. The third, Smoked Cinnamon Biters, are made with cedar wood smoked black tea, black pepper, cinnamon, wild cherry bark, gentian root, and clove.
In combination together, Zykan says, “They make a flavor profile similar to the bitters profile that I use in an Old Fashioned.”
The final product in the line, the Salt & Pepper Tincture, may seem odd to some, but it aligns perfectly with cocktail-making when you think about it (and not just in the sense of rimming a margarita with salt). “I think the idea of adding saline to things is scary for people because they think it’ll make the cocktail salty, and not necessarily elevate all of the flavors that are already there, as saline does in drinks,” Zykan says.
When using the tincture, she says, use a little at a time. “It’s the same process as you would use when using salt and pepper on your food.”
The syrups retail for $8.50 for a two-ounce bottle, which makes four cocktails. The bitters retail for $11.50 for a two-ounce bottle and the tincture sells for $7.50 for a two-ounce bottle. The Cocktail Provisions will be available for purchase online via Old Forester and Bourbon Barrel Foods, and at Bourbon Barrel Foods storefronts.