In 1864, James Fee opened a grocery and liquor store in Rochester, NY to help support his large, close-knit family. His brothers helped him grow the store into a successful winery and wine import business, and in 1883 the name was changed from James Fee & Company to Fee Brothers.
When prohibition began in 1920, Fee Brothers kept themselves afloat by making altar wine, distributing wine-making supplies, and consulting with homeowners to legally make their own wine at home. While it was legal to make a small amount of wine for personal use, making and selling stronger spirits was strictly forbidden. That didn’t stop people from trying though, and the result was a flood of poor quality alcohol being made by people who didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing.
Since most of the alcohol being sold in saloons and speakeasies tasted terrible, Fee Brothers saw an opportunity and developed a line of cordial syrups and drink flavorings designed to make inferior spirits taste like the real thing. Benedictine, Chartreuse, Brandy, and Rum flavorings were among their most popular products.
When prohibition was repealed in 1933, Fee Brothers returned to the sale of liquor, but their cordial syrups remained so popular that they soon decided to focus on mixers, syrups, and flavorings instead. By 1950 they were on a never-ending quest to develop new products and their flavored cocktail bitters line really became a focus. Fee Brothers’ product list now boasts almost 100 drink mix products, but today they’re probably best known for their huge selection of flavored bitters.
Fee Brothers Cranberry bitters are an unusual and hard to find bitter that adds a tart, fruity sweetness to your favorite cocktails. With notes of botanical bittering agents and citrus zest, they’re fruit forward and taste of unsweetened cranberry and cherry juices. They’d be perfect for fall and winter cocktails and would make a great addition to the bar at your upcoming holiday parties. They’re best used in drinks that you don’t want to water down or over-sweeten with too much cranberry juice. Please watch the video below for an idea of how to put Fee’s cranberry bitters to use in your home bar.
The Cranberry Rose
2 oz applejack
1 oz cranberry juice
1/2 oz grenadine
4 to 6 dashes cranberry bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until frosty and frothy and strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Enjoy!