The Bittercube Blog

Featured Bartender: Cameron McKenzie

Posted in Recipes on August 5th, 2015 by Nick & Ira

cameronHow long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been behind the stick at Red Bone for just over a year now. I was offered a position as the bar made the move from our old program to the Bittercube way of bartending. I fell in love with the techniques and the subtle nuances of building well-balanced drinks, amidst the chaos of a rush, in combination with the endless variety of hats you get to wear behind the bar. One minute you may be a historian, the next a shrink. It’s always changing and shifting, and you never know who might walk up to your bar next.

What is your favorite bar right now?
As far as cocktails are concerned, I love drinking at my own bar. I trust the fine crew I work with to mix me a masterful beverage every time. But if I’m just out for the night any dive bar with a pool table and the occasional song I can dance to does just fine.

Where can readers find your drinks?
Currently you can find my drinks at Red Bone Alley in Florence, SC. There, or where ever I happen to come across a few limes and a bottle of gin.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
The first thing I would suggest is to straw test constantly. It helps you understand how small of amounts of things make huge changes to cocktail flavor dynamics. Like the huge difference that you will experience when you don’t jigger out your drinks properly.

What is a memorable moment of your bartending career?
Probably the first time I sold a Negroni. This guy sat down that looked like he was on the tail end of a very long day. He asked for a menu and ordered a Negroni. The thing that sticks with me was seeing the way he seemed to come back to life as he drank it, like it was exactly what he needed. That time it was a drink, but I always love when I can find that one thing that a customers wants to make this time the best, that turns a first timer into a regular.

Saigon ’75

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

3/4 oz Herbs de Provence syrup*

1.5 oz Bombay Saphire East Gin

2 oz Brut Sparkling Wine

1 ED Jamaican #2 Bittercube Bitters

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Serve: Champaign Flute

Add the lemon, Herbs syrup, Bombay East, and bitters to your shaking tin

Measure out 2 oz of Brut

Short shake everything but the bubbly

pop the tin, add the bubbly, straw test

Double strain into your flute, add garnish


*Herbs de Provence Syrup

7 grams Sage
7 grams Marjoram
7 grams Tarragon
21 grams Thyme
21 grams Rosemary
4 quarts Water
4 quarts Granulated Sugar

Add the water to a pot and simmer the water

Toss in the herbs

Kill the heat and cover for 10 minutes

Strain the steeped mixture water through a china hat stainer


Featured Bartender: Trey Reimer

Posted in general mischief on June 16th, 2015 by Nick & Ira

IMG_0873How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been bartending for a little over 2 years. Scratch just had it’s two year anniversary a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been here the whole time. I had just moved back to Norman from Austin and applied for a few jobs and instead of actually following through on those jobs that I didn’t really want I just stayed at home mostly writing songs about the interview process from each job and posting them online. As luck would have it one day I heard my good friend Ira from bittercube was in town doing bar training at this new place called Scratch and he called me up and asked me to come by. I fell in love with it and more importantly the bittercube way of bartending almost instantly. So I got the job the good ol’ fashioned way… nepotism. Ohhh now I want an Old Fashioned!

What is your favorite bar right now?
My favorite bar is Beerland in Austin, Tx but that has nothing to do with cocktails. It’s just a great place! As far as cocktail bars go The Wsky Lounge in Okc is pretty good but the ones that inspire me the most are still ones that I haven’t been to yet but I love the creativity and ethos of all three of these bars; The Aviary in Chicago, Midnight Cowboy in Austin, and of course Eat Street Social whose Facebook I go to almost daily to see if there’s something I can’t rip off. I mean riff on, I mean riff on!

Where can readers find your drinks?
It’d be great if they were at other places besides Scratch but as far as I know that’s the only place you can get them. Unless of course you count when I invite people over to my house to what are affectionately known as “Captain’s Yacht Party”. If your readers do show up at my house just make sure they don’t let George out. George is a cat.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
“Keep it simple, keep it precise.”
That advice is more for the new enthusiasts but it’s something that even old pros need to be reminded of from time to time. Take your time jiggering out your proportions to make sure it’s exact and that the fresh lime juice you’ve had in your fridge for just 2 days is unfortunately not fresh anymore and will ruin your cocktail. My favorite thing to do at home is make different syrups because it’s the most cost efficient way to have fun making cocktails at home while also drastically changing each cocktail’s profile depending on which syrup you use. Lastly, talk to your bartender. I might not have all the answers but I also know a guy that knows a guy.

What is a memorable moment of your bartending career?
The first one that comes to mind is when Sooner legend Barry Switzer burst through the door looking like a king from Game of Thrones with his white fur coat on that draped all the way down to the floor and ordered a Pinot Noir. It was glorious. You have so many memorable nights though working at a bar but the main goal of any bartender is to make sure it’s just as memorable for the guest. Be it with a spectacular cocktail or just an overall great time. Because in the end, they might come because they heard you make a great Manhattan, but they’ll come back if it has the same sentiment as the Cheer’s theme song. Which is what every bar strives for.

Deconstructed Aviation

1 1/2oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
3/4oz Cocchi Americano
1/4oz Aperol
1/4oz Maraschino
Bittercube Orange bitters
Creme de Violette foam

Violette foam- 2 egg whites, 1 oz heavy cream, 2oz lemon, 2 oz simple syrup, and 2oz creme de Violette




Featured Bartender: Brandon Reyes

Posted in general mischief on June 16th, 2015 by Nick & Ira

MEHow long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been bartending for two years. I was a barback at The Hamilton for a bit when I was benevolently offered the opportunity to train with Bittercube as a bartender at Blue Jacket.

What is your favorite bar right now?
Art Bar. They have a pool table, and Campari, and it’s within stumbling distance from my pad.

Where can readers find your drinks?
Fink’s. Tiki Tuesday. You will also find some illustrations that I’ve done to accompany said drinks.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Invest in good tools, stay away from prohibition cos-play, and keep it simple. Odds are, if you’re thinking too much about something, you are thinking too much about something. That was three things 😉

What is a memorable moment from your bartending career?
I refused service two a couple of drunk dudes, and they didn’t appreciate it so much. So much so, that they called me a hipster and pinned the fall of Western Civilization on yours truly. One of the guys was even friends with the owner of the bar! OH NO! My heart plummeted down into my socks…. I was devastated. “Why didn’t I give that drunk guy a drink?”, I cried into the pages of my diary…..Things like that make us stronger people.

Based God’s Curse:

1.5 oz Mellow Corn Whiskey

.33 oz Cazadores Reposado

1 oz Cinnamon Citrate Syrup

2 Dashes Bittercube Corazon

Garnish: Paper thin lime wheel

Add ingredients to tin.

Long shake.

Double strain into coupe glass.

Garnish with Paper thin lime wheel.

Cinnamon Citrate Syrup:

16 g Indonesian Cassia Cinnamon

120 g Hot Water

100 g Granulated Sugar

4 g Sodium Citrate

4 g Malic Acid

Crack cinnamon.

Bloom cinnamon over a low heat.

Bring water to a boil and remove from heat.

Add cinnamon to hot water, cover, and steep for 10 min.

Strain through nylon mesh or fine mesh tea strainer.

Measure 100 g of cinnamon tea.

Whisk sugar into tea.

Whisk Sodium Citrate And Malic Acid into syrup.

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Featured Bartender: Mike McDonald

Posted in general mischief on May 19th, 2015 by Nick & Ira

MikeMcDonald2-2How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?

I’ve been bartending in Milwaukee for 5 years now. As far as training is concerned I owe the majority of my cocktail training to Bittercube proprietors Nick and Ira. I started off as a enthusiast working behind the bar and studying at home. I think they noticed how interested I was and brought me on board. We’ve had a great working relationship ever since.


What is your favorite bar right now?

I really enjoy spending time with friends at Boone & Crockett in my down time. Great atmosphere, great drinks and great people. Oh and yes Gypsy Taco is coming soon.

Where can readers find your drinks?

You can currently find my drinks on the menu at Boone & Crockett where you can find me Friday nights and at Movida where I bartend on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?

The key to a successful cocktail is balance and quality ingredients. A successful cocktail should be able to tell you a story about how it came to be. All of the ingredients should be thoughtful and work well together. Understanding flavors and how they interact with our sense of taste and smell is essential. Anyone can take things they like and combine them in a glass. Odds are they’re going to be content with what they produce. However, if our goal is to design cocktails that stand the test of time paying attention to minute details is very important.

Layton Boulevard

1½ oz. Bourbon (Maker’s Mark)
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica)
¼ oz. Campari
¼ oz. Coffee Liqueur (St. George)
1 eyedropper Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
½ eyedropper Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
½ eyedropper Bittercube Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients, with ice, to a mixing glass. Stir to chill and strain into coupe glass. Top with a twist of lemon oil, discarding the peel.
See Mike demonstrate the Layton Boulevard here.

Featured Bartender: Melissa Wennlund

Posted in general mischief on April 2nd, 2015 by Nick & Ira

melHow long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been bartending for three years now. I started as a barback in Oakland and began bartending after 6 months. When I moved to Milwaukee in 2013 I was brought onto the team at Blue Jacket and was trained by Bittercube. My life will never be the same.

What is your favorite bar right now?
Aside from Burnhearts, and Goodkind where I work now, my favorite bar in Bayview is Boone & Crockett. I love the dark, cozy bar, the drinks are good and strong, and the patio is the best, summer or winter. And they always have Steigl Radler.

Where can readers find your drinks?
At my home away from home, Goodkind in Bayview. One of the best restaurants and bars in Milwaukee with a great team and vision behind it.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Never make a Manhattan again without Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters. Never.

What is a memorable moment from your bartending career?
Meetings with the bartending team in the old Blue Jacket Days. Lots of laughs and tears and tasting. I learned so much and became a part of an amazing family working there.

Also, patio season.

Melissa’s Cocktail:

Red Sky at Night

1.75 oz Cazadores Reposado
.75 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Ruby Port Syrup (see below)
1 Eyedropper of Jamaican #1 Bitters

Medium shake, strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a grapefruit quarter or half wheel.

Ruby Port Syrup

Start with 3 cups port, reduce to 2.
Add 1 cup of hot water that has been steeped with dried coriander.
While simmering add 3 cups of white sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved.
Remove from heat and cool.


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Featured Bartender: Tripper Duval

Posted in general mischief, Recipes on February 24th, 2015 by Nick & Ira

tripbartendHow long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I have been bartending for just over 1 1/2 years. I got started because I was unhappy with my day job at the time. I needed to change the direction my life was headed, and all I knew was that I wanted to do something fun, challenging, and creative. In the meantime, I started applying to a few bars around town to make some cash. In hindsight, I got WAY too specific in that I really only applied to bars I thought would match the style of bartending I wanted to do. With no prior experience and no knowledge on how to work behind a bar, I got really, really lucky, and Kim from The Hamilton decided to take a chance and put me behind the bar. Within the first week of learning techniques and making those first few cocktails, I realized this was something really special and I wanted to be apart of it as much as I could.

What is your favorite bar right now?
My favorite bar is probably whatever bar I go to with people I care about. I think that sounds super cheesy, but true. After having listed a bunch of bars and giving reasons why I frequent them, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a high percentage of bars from the swanky craft cocktail joints to your basic hole in the wall corner bars have a purpose, or something that draws people to them, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. I find myself in a lot of them and really having a great time.

Although, I should mention that I do not enjoy being hungover. So wherever I go, I like to make sure that whatever I am drinking (beer, wine, or cocktails) is well-made with good ingredients, and no extra shit, that might cause me to not enjoy my morning coffee, or my barking dogs.

Where can readers find your drinks?
Right now, I am the Bar Manager/Lead Bartender at The Hamilton on the Lower East Side of Milwaukee. I am also pulling a Sunday night shift at Goodkind in Bayview. You can find me at either place and I’d be more than happy to make you something, on or off menu.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Have fun, get weird, don’t take yourself too seriously. I love mozzarella cheese, and thought it could be a fun ingredient in a cocktail. My girlfriend on the other hand, thought I should be admitted. So we joked around, and tried different variations and ways to use the cheese within the drink, and came up with something that tastes surprisingly delicious.

What is a memorable moment from your bartending career?
This past January I had made it to the finals of a Manhattan Cocktail Competition in Manhattan, NY. I got to make and serve some of the people in the bartending community that I really admire and respect, as well as hang out and talk nonsense with them. It was a great time.

Tripper’s Recipe: Margherita

1.5 mozzarella infused Rehorst Gin*

.50 lemon

.50 simple

2 cherry tomatoes and 2 medium sized basil leaves.

1 ED Bittercube Bolivar

Salt + Pepper Mixture*

Rim Coupe glass with Salt and pepper mixture, add ice to glass and set aside. Muddle tomatoes and 1 basil leaf with bolivar bitters, add other ingredients. Shake well. Discard ice from glass and double strain cocktail into chilled glass. Enjoy.

Glass: Coupe

Garnish: Basil leaf, with house Salt+pepper Rim.

* infuse 8 oz of Mozzarella cheese of choice (preferably Wisconsin made) to 750ml of gin. let stand for roughly 48 hours.

* add equal parts Paradise seed and Black lava salt to grinder. Grind until almost dust consistency.


Featured Bartender: Joe Elmergreen

Posted in general mischief, Recipes on January 22nd, 2015 by Nick & Ira

Joe Elmergeen
Bartender and Server
Wolf Peach

IMG_328100604591031How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been bartending since college, at the current level only about 1.5 years.

What is your favorite bar right now?
O’Lydia’s Irish Pub. I’m a shot and a beer kind of customer.

Where can readers find your drinks?
The Iron Horse Hotel, Wolfpeach, my house…..

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Even if you love one of your own cocktails, the way it is… Write it down and try it a different way. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change, even if you think it’s your best creation to date.

What is a memorable moment from your bartending career?
I had the opportunity to create a cocktail to be used for an Oscar’s event at The Iron Horse Hotel. I created a cocktail based originally called the “Lembrulée”. Later changed to the Daisy Buchanan, the cocktail was inspired by my late mothers favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie, and my own, creme brulée. Needless to say it meant the world to me, and the fact that we sold over 40 of them throughout the night, was also great.

Try one of Joe’s drinks at home, The Bronze Statute:

2oz Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz Carpano Antica
1/4 oz Cardamaro
1/4 oz Door Country Cherry Simple Syrup
1 dropper of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters.
1 dropper Bittercube Bolivar bitters
Stir til chilled
Garnish with an orange disc expressed over.



Featured Bartender: Charlee Weekes

Posted in general mischief, Recipes on December 23rd, 2014 by Nick & Ira

Charlee Weekes
Headmistress (Bartender)
Eat Street Social


How long have you been bartending?

-Since around 2007

How did you get started?
-I was brought up in the restaurant business. My papa always had me around at his restaurants. I’ve always done something in or around restaurants my whole life.

What’s your favorite bar right now?
-I’ll have to admit I’m a bit of an old man stuck in my ways always returning to my personal “Cheers”. Muddy Waters in Uptown & Masu in Northeast are two places I truly love. As far as up and coming bars, multiple bar programs in Minneapolis are showcasing wonderful cocktails crafted by some darn handsome Gents & Gals at Spoon & Stable, Saffron & La Belle Vie.

Where can readers find your drinks?
-The Eat Street Social in Minneapolis.

What is one piece of advice you have for at home cocktail enthusiasts?
-Don’t be afraid to try something new! Be adventurous, truly the sky is the limit.

What is a memorable moment from your bartending career?
-I would have to say my first bartending gig. I totally fibbed…ok I straight out lied to get the job. I was 20 and wanted to be behind the bar at any cost. My first training shift behind that bar is a night I will never forget. I don’t scare easily, but I will admit I white knuckled it all eight hours of that shift! At least I can look back and say the lie was worth it!

Charlee’s Cocktail:

The Queen of The Dragons (Carbonated and Bottled)

3 oz         Grapefruit Juice
1 oz         Peach Syrup
1.5 oz        Modest Vodka
.25 oz.            Cappelletti
1 oz         Austrian Rose
3 ED         Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters
1 ED         Bittercube Orange Bitters
.75 oz.        Water content

Glass:        Collins
Ice:        Shards
Garnish:    Flower
Instructions:    Soda Streamed, bottled


Wine and Dine Recap

Posted in general mischief on November 23rd, 2013 by Nick & Ira

Wine and Dine Wisconsin 2013 was a little different from years past. The main floor was populated with local food, beer, wine and spirit vendors. In addition to brand representatives from each company, the schedule each day was filled with seminars, classes and workshops. Carol Deptolla’s “Critics Choice” Top 30 restaurants were hosted in a downstairs ballroom. The tone for experience was set with dimmed lighting and mellow music to accompany the offerings from Milwaukee’s top culinary players.

Wine and Dine 2013The Bittercube experience was seen throughout the event. Guests were treated to our craft cocktails at the The Club cocktail area from Potawatomi Bingo Casino. For those looking for a more customized experience, Bittercube-trained bartenders from across the country whipped up “Dealer’s Choice” cocktails at The Celebrated Visitant Bar, fully stocked with an array of unique spirits, fresh juices, customized syrups and (of course) Bittercube bitters.

For a more of a “hands on” experience with Bittercube, each day our bartenders hosted cocktail labs which highlighted more guidance and tips to attendees in reference to their home bars and how they look at cocktail recipes.

Finally, Bittecube wrapped up the festivities on Sunday with “Cocktails 101,” hosted by Daniel Dufek of Hi-Hat Lounge and Daniel Beres of Blue Jacket at the Libations Stage. The seminar discussed the history of cocktails in America and the role that Prohibition played in the evolution of the culture. They addressed cocktail crafting considerations such as how to know when a cocktail should be stirred versus being shaken. They also shared a few classic cocktail recipes including a Daisy and an Old Fashioned while explaining the role bitters have in a well balanced cocktail.

For more information on the event, check out this piece by JS Online.


Register for the Repeal Day event!

Posted in Events on November 18th, 2011 by Nick & Ira

Join Bittercube & Create Catering to celebrate the Repeal of Prohibition! On December 5th 1933, the Noble Experiment ended and alcohol flowed freely once again. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Bittercube will brush the dust off a few prized, tax stamped spirits and liqueurs from ages past to create cocktails inspired by the golden age of the cocktail. Chef Phillip Dorwart, owner of Create Catering & The Dining Studio, will pair appetizers with each of the six different cocktails.

Attendance is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot in advance: click here to register now!

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