Brown—Forman is trying to get into the bitters game. The conglomerate just launched Cocktail Provisions, a joint effort between their Old Forester brand and Louisville’s Bourbon Barrel Foods comprised of three bitters, two syrups and one tincture.
“We want people to enjoy our Bourbon the way they like it – whether it’s neat, on the rocks or in a hand-crafted cocktail,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster and Bourbon Specialist in a statement. “Cocktail Provisions is there to help you find your inner bartender and discover new, unique ways to experience Old Forester.”
The ‘inner-bartender’ line is a tip-off about the desired market. Brown-Forman appears to be gunning for the popular volume-bar-serving-basic-cocktails audience. For example, their Perfect Old Fashioned Syrup is simply (pun intended) demerara syrup with a blend of three bitters. The Oleo-Saccharum Syrup is exactly what the name says. Materials boast “a rustic cocktail ingredient created using a cold process to extract oil from citrus peels by immersing them in sugar; adds bright citrus flavor profile.” In short, you can now make punches without the advance prep of macerating citrus peels.
The three bitters are all based in Old Forester Bourbon. Smoked Cinnamon Bitters offers your typical baking spice profile; ingredients are listed as cedar wood smoked black tea, black pepper, cinnamon, wild cherry bark, gentian root, and clove. The Hummingbird Bitters is made with quassia, gentian, rose, cardamom, clementine zest, toasted almond, and orange peel.
And, then there are the Bohemian Bitters. The official marketing materials describe this flavor as “Cherry Tobacco.” Fortunately, the ingredients list only Sour cherries, clove, wild cherry bark, gentian root, anise, smoked black pepper and cacao nibs—not any actual tobacco. However given the severe medical risks of tobacco cocktail trend, this product, debatably encouraging others to experiment, is sure to garner some backlash from food science/safety community.
Finally, there is a Salt and Pepper tincture made with smoked sea salt and black peppercorn. Marketers suggest harnessing these flavors in a Boulevardier riff.
The MSRP on the tinctures is $11.50 for a 2 fl. oz. bottle. The same size bottle will cost $8.50 in the syrup lines; each one makes four cocktails. The tincture is $7.50 for 2 oz.