Whisk Sips video cocktail series featuring Lavender Spice bitters

In the world of craft bitters, Bar Keep’s line of of organic aromatic cocktail bitters has a unique origin story. Whereas most bitters companies are founded by bartenders or cocktail enthusiasts who thought that their homemade bitters were good enough to break into the retail market, Bar Keep bitters’ flavors were created by contest winners!

In 2009 LA’s Greenbar Distillery, already the largest portfolio of organic spirits in the world, decided to break into the world of organic cocktail bitters. Since they were more familiar with distilling spirits, they decided to enlist the help of professional bartenders already perfecting their own recipes on a smaller scale. So, the first Barmade Bitters Challenge was organized to find the best bartender-made bitters in the nation. To enter you had to be a professional, practicing bartender in the U.S. and have an amazing bitters recipe you’d be willing to share with the world.

The entries were narrowed down to fifteen finalists, and a panel of over 100 bartenders and fans sniffed and sampled to choose a winner for each of their three categories, Fruit, Herb, & Spice. Each of the winners had their recipes produced, marketed, and released, and the three original flavors were so popular that the line has since expanded by way of even more bartender competitions.  Every flavor has the names and faces of the winning bartenders featured prominently on the label.

The winner in the “Spice” category was an English Lavender & Spice Bitters created by John Hogan and Tobin Ellis of Las Vegas’s BarMagic at The Pelican Club. Their Lavender Spice recipe balances fresh lavender’s intensely floral notes with it’s masculine pine-y nature and a bit of warm cinnamon spice. Floral flavors like lavender can sometimes be overpowering, but a few drops in the right cocktail will practically transport you to a warm summer flower meadow buzzing with bees. These bitters are an ideal partner for gin cocktails and play well with most other drinks made with clear spirits.
Still not sure how you might put Bar Keep Lavender Spice bitters to good use in your own home bar? Check out the video recipe below for inspiration!

Amber Outlaw Cocktail

1.5 oz. Amber or Old Tom Gin
75 oz. Orange Liqueur
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
6 dashes Bar Keep Lavender Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until frosty and strain into coupe or cocktail glass.

Summer time is picnic time!

Elegant outdoor meals were likely first eaten during the Middle Ages, when the European leisure class began organizing hunting parties as a form of entertainment. Historians also believe that the word “picnic” originates from the seventeenth-century French term “pique-nique”, which described wealthy gourmands who brought their own wine along with them when dining out.grillIn those early years, outdoor feasts were largely reserved for the wealthy, but with the growth of the middle class, the picnic gained a more universal appeal. In the Victorian Era, the public was enamored with the pursuits of the moneyed aristocracy, and the popularity of the picnic exploded.grillEven then though, the picnic was a much larger and more elaborate meal than the one we know today. “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management”, the seminal book on Victorian British cookery and housekeeping, provided detailed instructions on picnicking.

The book insisted that a picnic for about 40 people should include cold roast beef, four meat pies, four roast chickens, two roast ducks, four dozen cheesecakes and one large cold plum pudding, just to name a few items. The menu also included three dozen bottles of beer along with claret, sherry and brandy. Just imagine the number of picnic baskets they would have needed for all that food!grillBecause they’re lightweight and sturdy, woven baskets have always been favored to transport picnics, but centuries ago they were often as large as trunks because so many courses were offered. As picnic meals have evolved over the years, so have picnic baskets.grillToday, most picnic basket are designed to feed just a handful of people, but a wide range of styles are available. Some modern picnic baskets are made of modern materials like polyester with waterproof insulated interiors, while others may look more familiar, made from woven natural materials, but are small and simple with washable fabric liners. Attractive and elaborate picnic kits are even available, with dishes, flatware, glasses and napkins included, along with straps to hold all these items in place with plenty of room remaining for your outdoor feast.grill

Grilling Season is finally here. Get cooking with a Charcoal Chimney from Whisk

It looks like it’s safe to say that Spring is finally here and Summer is just around the corner! That means it’s officially grilling season and we are thrilled!

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We’re big fans of charcoal grilling for the best smoky, outdoor flavor, but we know that it can be a pain in the butt to get your charcoal lit without dousing it with lighter fluid and ruining that woodsy flavor.

To solve this challenge, we looked to one of our favorite magazines. According to a grilling gadgets article from Cooks Illustrated,

“Chimney starters eliminate the need for lighter fluid, which some of our more sensitive tasters swear they can taste residually on the grilled food… A chimney starter is cylindrical with an attached heatsafe handle. It resembles a huge beer mug. Inside the cylinder, just a few inches up from the bottom, a perforated metal plate separates the large upper chamber from the small lower chamber. Different models of chimney starters show very little variation. Some have wooden handles, some have plastic handles, but all do just about the same thing…
Expect to pay between $15 and $30 for a chimney starter—a very modest investment for such a useful tool.”

To use a charcoal chimney, simply stuff ripped, crumpled newspaper or brown paper bags into the bottom chamber, and fill the upper chamber with charcoal. When you light the paper, the design of the chimney will pull the flames up through the charcoal and in about 15 minutes it’ll be ready to use. It really is that simple!

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Whisk’s favorite chimney starter from Fox Run is only $18!