Better Bitters, Superb Syrups: Premium Cocktail Mixers you Need in Your Life
The remarkable quality of Irish craft spirits available today along with the diverse array of bottles from distilleries new and established is helping fuel a vibrant cocktail scene in Ireland and as more bartenders and spirit aficionados embrace artisan tipples, it’s time to keep a closer eye on the other elements that go into our cocktails.
Professionals have been keen to adopt the kaleidoscope of tonics, bitters, syrups and other premium ingredients needed to mix cocktails worthy of five star hotels, often going the extra mile and making their own sophisticated concoctions, including obscure herbs and even foraged berries.
At home, very lucky few have the time and the skills for that but truth is, you don’t need to, as you can find top-quality, ready-made ingredients to satisfy your thirst for cocktails that will amaze your guests and please the most demanding palates.
With that in mind, we have compiled a round-up of some of the best premium cocktails mixers and other essential ingredients you can find in Ireland.
Poacher’s Premium Tonic is made with mineral rich spring water from the company’s well in Wexford, which has been pilfered and poached since 1825. The water is sweetened with sugar beets and then cinchona bark and other botanicals are added. A touch of Florida orange and Irish rosemary complements its balanced and aromatic character.
Besides the classic tonic, the company also makes ginger ale and citrus tonic water.
Price: €1.50 (200 ml bottle)
Available: Selected off licences including Martin’s Off Licence, Drinkstore.ie, Searsons, Donnybrook Fair.
More information: facebook.com/PoachersWell
This small-batch company is based in Dublin and specialises in “unconventional soft drinks using beneficial cultures from natural water kefir.” Their drinks are fizzy but not due to carbonation, instead, they resort to an old technique called water conditioning. Their Irish Tonic contains no refined sugar and it’s made by infusing cinchona bark with herbs and spices such as cardamom, cloves and even sea salt. It’s complex and it will add great depth to your next G&T.
Other must-try products from this company include a lemongrass & ginger drink, chilli & ginger and cucumber, mint and thyme.
Price: €2 (200 ml bottle)
Available: Dublin Food Co-Op, Whelehans Wines, L. Mulligan Grocer. More Stockists.
More information: herbelcrest.ie
This range of tonics was launched in the UK in 2005 and nowadays is internationally recognised as one of the best. The name is a nod at the cinchona tree, which provides the crucial bark used to make tonic waters. Free of artificial sweeteners and flavourings, Fever Tree tonics have an intense bubbly mouthfeel and being highly carbonated, they carry flavours very well.
Price: €1.50 (200 ml bottle)
Available: Widely available in off licences nationwide.
More information: fever-tree.com
THE HOUSE OF THOMAS HENRY
These German brand of craft soft drinks is named after an innovative pharmacist who revolutionised the world by discovering a way to make water non-perishable. Their classic tonic is very high in quinine and floral aromas, which translates into an intense mixer.
Other drinks from this brand include their Slim Tonic Water and the unusually delightful Cherry Blossom Tonic.
Available: Martin’s Off-Licence, Harvey Nichols
More information: thomas-henry.com
This British company has been in the natural botanical drinks business for over 100 years. They proudly highlight how their soft drinks are brewed for 7 days following a traditional process. Their tonic water is top notch, citrusy and with pleasant notes of lemongrass and there’s also a light version.
It’s worth sourcing their more quirky soft drinks including pink lemonade, ginger beer and “Curiosity Cola”.
Price: €2.25 (250 ml bottle)
Available: Evergreen, McHughs, Martin’s Off Licence.
More information: fentimans.com
DR. ADAM ELMEGIRAB – ORINOCO BITTERS
These premium bitters are inspired in a recipe produced in the late 19th century and combine orange peel, raisins, cinnamon, chamomile, cardamom and cassia bar. They were created by Dr. Adam Elmegirab for the multi-award winning team behind the Dead Rabbit bar in New York, and allow you to add a dash of their world famous quality to your home cocktails.
Other bitters from Dr. Adam include dandelion & burdock, teapot bitters and Spanish bitters.
Available: Celtic Whiskey Shop
More information: doctoradams.co.uk
BITTER TRUTH – CHOCOLATE BITTERS
This German company launched its first line of bitters in 2006. Nowadays they produce numerous award-winning ingredients for cocktail making. Among their wide range of options, the Chocolate Bitters are one of our favourites. An ideal addition to chocolate or coffee based drinks, and adds a wonderful complexity to whiskey and rum.
Try also their Creole Bitters, Peach Bitters and Eldelflower Liqueur.
Available: Celtic Whiskey Shop
More information: the-bitter-truth.com
BITTERMENS – ELEMAKULE TIKI BITTERS
This small-batch brand had its beginnings in San Francisco back in 2007 and while it’s available internationally, it preserves the craft approach and techniques. If you enjoy Tiki cocktails, their Elemakule Tiki Bitters will take your drinks to the next level. Cinnamon and allspice take the lead in this warming, tropical creation.
Other bitters from this maker include Boston Bittahs, Burlesque Bitters and Hellfire Habanero Bitters.
Available: Celtic Whiskey Shop
More information: bittermens.com
FEE BROTHERS – MINT BITTERS
This family business from New York has been standing since 1864 and has a portfolio of over 100 products, including several bitters. Their mint bitter is a versatile addition to your home bar, which will give a delicate, refreshing herbal touch to your cocktails. You can even use it for soups, desserts and lemonade!
You can also try their cherry bitters, peach bitters, gin barrel aged orange bitters and celery bitters.
Available: Celtic Whiskey Shop, Drinkstore.ie
More information: feebrothers.com
This Wexford-based artisan food company has a range of cocktail syrups that follows their ethos of sourcing fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. When possible, these are home-grown or foraged.
Their varied range of flavours include rhubarb, mint, vanilla, elderflower, meadowsweet, fennel, nettle and more.
Available: wildabout.ie/product-shop and selected farmers markets and festivals across Ireland (this June don’t miss them at Bloom).
More information: wildabout.ie
ORGANIC ORCHARD SYRUP
Described as “Ireland’s answer to maple syrup”, it’s a sweet and easy to pour syrup produced from organic Irish apples grown by Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny. They look after every step in this “from apple to bottle” luscious ingredient launched in 2010 at Savour Kilkenny. A taste of natural, artisan, local goodness.
Price: From €8.5
Available: highbankorchards.com/shop and selected farmers markets and festivals.
More information: highbankorchards.com
RICHMOUNT CORDIAL COMPANY
David and Martha Burns are a husband and wife team making high-quality artisan syrups in Co. Longford. Their elderflower cordial is made from flowers hand-picked only on dry days, when the petals are at their most fragrant and open. They don’t use any artificial preservatives or sweeteners and their cordial is concentrated, perfumed and made with careful attention to detail.
They also make an eldelberry cordial.
Available: SuperValu, The Butler’s Pantry, Avoca, McCabe’s Wines, and more
More information: richmountcordials.ie
MR JEFFARES BLACKCURRANTS
This family-run business from Wexford has grown blackcurrants since 1955. Until 2013, they were used to make Ribena but nowadays they sell their fruit in more varied presentations, including this blackcurrant cordial, which has no added sugar and it’s made with 100% cold pressed Juice from their own Irish blackcurrants.
Thanks to the farm’s privileged location, plenty of sunshine ripens their blackcurrants to perfection, making the fruit a perfect base for a rich and concentrated cordial.
Available: Nourish, SuperValu and more.
More information: mrjeffaresblackcurrants.ie
This Wexford craft cordial maker sources local fruits from neighbours and friends to elaborate a range of flavourful concoctions available in 10 different flavours including lemon, lime, strawberry & raspberry, and orange & cranberry.
These are all 100% natural and made in their own kitchens where they only add water, sugar and a pinch of citric acid.
More information: naturallycordial.ie
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.