The Bittercube Blog

Featured Bartender: Jud Kilgore

Posted in general mischief on October 1st, 2015 by Nick & Ira

IMG_2997How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I started working bars in early 2003, just before I started culinary school for patissiere and baking. I had just left a seven year career in animation and needed to find something new, so I jumped into food and beverage. As it turned out, I preferred front of house to being in front of an oven or dough sheeter.

What is your favorite bar right now?
That’s a good question. I think I’d have to go with the Black Forest because it’s casual and unpretentious. My friends do events there often so I find myself there for some of those and always end up in some wacky conversation over pear brandy or a huge beer. Sounds cliche but if I want a really good drink I’ll walk a bit further to Eat Street Social. It’s one of the benefits of living in Whittier.

Where can readers find your drinks?
For the last few years I’ve been with Chowgirls Killer Catering so you’d either have to be invited to a wedding or come by one of our gallery openings for a beverage. I just started with Scena, which will open in the next month or so, and I’m looking forward to the cocktail magic I’ll be turned on to there. That’s going to be the place to be this fall.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Invest in some good bar tools—they’re not just for geeks and professionals. You’ll be surprised at how good your concoctions will be, and your friends and party guests will notice, too.

What is a memorable moment of your bartending career?
Not long after I started tending bar, our cantina hosted the first Burning Man Decompression party in Los Angeles. We were the only bar open in a gated event that had some 2000 or so people and we were not properly prepared for this. It was a blur; I remember being the only bartender at one point and I was running out of cups and ice and I later discovered my barbacks were too busy outside gawking at women in barely-there Playa wear. There were so many people I felt like I’d never get to them all. My friend, Paul, who had worked the bar in a past life, saw I was freaking out and totally overwhelmed and said, “You’re in the weeds, brother, you just have to be there.” And it was true. You just gotta make one drink at a time and that’s that. It’s a very important lesson for newbie bartenders.

So a recipe? Ok. I recently have been loving swapping whiskey for my gin in my negronis—a boulevardier. Then I ran out of Campari and decided to use Aperol, like they do at the Sample Room.

1.5 oz Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon
.75 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
.75 oz Aperol
2 eye droppers Bittercube Blackstrap bitters
Add all over ice, stir to perfection, strain into your favorite cocktail glass.


Featured Bartender: Mary Palac

Posted in general mischief, Recipes on September 3rd, 2015 by Nick & Ira

How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I’ve been bartending for almost 7 years. I started in the industry as a hostess and jumped at any opportunity to grow, eventually moving to server, then bartender. After a year or so, I discovered singlebarrel in San Jose, arguably one of the first craft cocktail bars in the South San Francisco Bay Area. I had been working behind restaurant and nightclub bars for a couple years, and after watching the artful hands of the dedicated staff I knew I had to learn THIS way of making drinks; fresh, high quality ingredients, balanced consistent cocktails, and an elevated service model that educated and dazzled guests. After a year of creepily watching their technique and skills, I was given the opportunity to train and work there, and eventually became the Head Bartender.

What is your favorite bar right now?
The Interval in San Francisco (Paper Plane in San Jose is a close 2nd) the Interval is essentially a museum that happens to have a bar inside, which runs a unique but classically centered cocktail program. The space is beautiful.

Where can readers find your drinks?
I am a social media whore so on Instagram or Twitter @mixtressmary. I also use Trophy Cocktail and Shake/Stir. A few of my recipes will be included in a cocktail anthology called 1201 Very Good Cocktails compiled by Stew Ellington who just entered into a publishing deal with Anastasia Miller and Jared Brown. I’m also behind the bar at Mortar & Pestle in San Jose!

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
There are so many resources out there! The Internet, apps, TV shows, cocktail books. If you are hungry for knowledge, it is readily available through several mediums. As a bartender I love geeking out with regulars who just want to learn a little bit about what I do, asking questions like “Why stir or shake?” Or “What is an Amaro?” Or “Isn’t Absinthe illegal?”. As long as they’re not in the weeds, your neighborhood bartender can be a great resource as well. Seek and Ye shall find! Then throw a cocktail party and impress your friends with your new skills!

What is a memorable moment of your bartending career?
The training at singlebarrel was so intense that as an apprentice I was only allowed to make a few drinks at a time, under extreme supervision. One day a regular to the bar came in, saw that I was new and eager to shake up a cocktail, and said to me, ignoring the senior bartenders, “Well why don’t you make me a drink?” And started describing all his favorite cocktails. I said back to him, “I’m sorry sir, I’m only allowed to make these 5 cocktails today.” He looks at the list, picks out a Trader Vic’s 1944 Maitai, and said, “Well you can make me this! I love Mai Tais!” I was so excited to get the chance to actually make a drink, I took so much care squeezing the fresh lime juice and measuring out all the ingredients, after which he told me it was perfect! He was one of my favorite regulars from then on, because he gave me a chance when he could have easily gone to one of the more skilled and experienced bartenders. I always reminded him of how grateful I was every chance I saw him. 4 years later, on Singlebarrel’s final anniversary before they rebranded, he came in again after a couple of years of having moved away, just to have one last Mai Tai from me. I just about cried on the spot.



1.25 oz Bols Genever
.5 oz Marie Brizard Apry
.5 oz Cherry Heering
.25 oz Averna
.25 oz Falernum
.5 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
2 dash Mahalo Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a freshly iced collins glass. Orange peel garnish.

About Mahalo Bitters:
1 part Jamaican #2
¼ part Jamaican #1
½ part Angostura
While developing the cocktails for the Torpedo Room, a Bittercube tiki pop up inside Eat Street Social, we came to realize that is is almost impossible to recreate some Tiki classics without the use of Angostura.  To broaden the flavor profile and enhance the depth and richness of Angostura, we blend in Jamaican #1 and Jamaican #2, adding notes of citrus, allspice, vanilla, black pepper and ginger, thus creating an all-purpose Tiki Bitters.
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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


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