18.21 Bitters is an Atlanta-based cocktail bitters, syrup and shrub company.
While we love going out for a cocktail or two, it's no secret that the price of a fancy drink just keeps climbing higher and higher. So to make sure you've got enough extra cash in your pocket for holiday shopping, it's best to learn how to make some of your most beloved drinks at home.
While it may be a little intimidating to adopt the title of home bartender (no one wants to obe known as the person who makes a bad Old Fashioned), high quality cocktail mixers can take some of the pressure off. And lucky for us, 13 of the best mixers are made right here in the South.
18.21 Bitters, Atlanta
18.21 is a bitters, shrub and syrup company that produces some of the most exciting flavors in the country. In addition to providing products that help elevate your home cocktail bar, its storefront, located in Ponce City Market, also hosts weekly cocktail classes featuring its products. PROOF, Decatur
These delicious cocktail syrups were created at The Pinewood in downtown Decatur by some of the best bartenders in the city. PROOF aims to reach customers who want to enjoy a high-quality cocktail experience at home. These syrups, offered in "Traditional," maple bacon, and pecan flavors, are marketed as an “everything but the bourbon” approach to mixers and they make it a snap to recreate some of your favorite drinks.
Tennessee is home to some of the greatest landmarks in the South as well as some amazing cocktail syrup businesses.
Pure Southern, Chattanooga
These elixirs take all of the work out of making cocktails; each pre-bottled boozy delight simply needs to be poured over ice. Pour Southern offers four different cocktails named after Southern states: Its Carolina Cocktail — featuring fresh lemon juice — is a take on sweet tea and vodka. The Alabama Dixie Melon is a fruity cocktail made from watermelon, lime and vodka. Predictably, the Georgia Peach Margarita plays to this Southern state's most iconic fruit. It's made with actual peach fruit and a heavy helping of tequila, so sip this one slow. Lastly is the Tennessee Cucumber Cooler, a fresh, zesty twist on the mint julep made with cucumber, lime juice, vodka and a hint of mint. Bang Candy, Nashville
This woman-owned small business has so many delicious cocktail syrup options it's almost impossible to choose. From its Spiced Smoked Orange flavor to its Habenero Lime Syrup, there is a flavor for every cocktail mood you're in.
Walker Feed Company, Nashville
This all-natural cocktail mixer company makes killer bloody mary mixes in addition to several other high-quality cocktail accompaniments. All of these syrups showcase fresh juices and cane sugar or honey. Flavors include blackberry margarita mix, honeysuckle sour, Southern peach and many more. Eli Mason, Nashville
This small, family-run brand based out of Nashville is here to make sure you never have a boring at-home happy hour again. It offers several high-quality cocktail mixers in a variety of flavors that can also be used in the kitchen as marinades and sweeteners in desserts.
Liber & Co., Austin
This Austin-based brand is devoted to the art of making exceptional cocktails. Liber & Co. started as a personal project and has expanded into a company that produces quality syrups, born from a collective appreciation for the craft of the cocktail. This company isn't afraid to search far and wide for quality ingredients for its syrups; it sources locally whenever possible, but also brings in the big guns from states like California.
White Whale Mixers, Wilmington
In addition to a witty name, this cocktail syrup company offers plenty of delicious choices. To help eliminate any potential for a bad drink, each of its syrups is comes with a suggested booze pairing — as well as a thoughtfully written description of where the cocktail can transport its drinker. For example, its Day Dreamer cocktail mix encourages us to imagine ourselves away from the requirements of work and somewhere far, far away where we can enjoy a refreshing blend of lemon, oranges and a hint of cinnamon. Reading this cocktail description, you can practically taste sweet freedom.
South Carolina isn't short on historical sites, beautiful beaches or low country cuisine. Recently, however, it's the growing cocktail biz that is getting all of the attention — and with good reason.
Bittermilk and Tippleman, Charleston
Husband-and-wife team Joe and MariElena Raya have created quite the cocktail empire in Charleston. The couple owns the small but well respected Gin Joint and have launhed both the Bittermilk and Tippleman brands to sell their famous cocktail syrups.
Bittermilk is a line of cocktail mixers made for home cocktail enthusiasts. Everything you need to make a quality cocktail at home is in each hand-filled bottle — you just need to add the spirit of your choice. Each product features a bittering agent (hence the name), a sweetener and an acid of some sort in order to achieve the perfect balance, and the all-natural, organic ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible. With a line-up of flavors such as bourbon barrel aged Old Fashioned, charred grapefruit tonic, and elderflower and hops Tom Collins, you're sure to be calling your friends to tell them you're staying in tonight.
In contrast, Tippleman was born out of a problem. The Gin Joint's bar is incredibly small but sees a lot of foot traffic. The Rayas need to be able to create the craft syrups they use in their cocktails in bulk, and that is where Tippleman came in. Created with bartenders in mind, this company offers a series of cocktail syrups that help bartenders easily introduce more complex flavor characteristics into their drinks and to promote creativity behind the bar. Jack Rudy, Charleston
Jack Rudy has achieved a fair amount of national acclaim. It's available for purchase across the country in well-known retail stores such as Bevmo, Total Wine and Whole Foods. But while you can grab some of the company's products pretty easily, Jack Rudy plays no games when it comes to quality ingredients. This Charleston-based company has a syrup, bitter and garnish (bourbon cherries and martini olives) for every spirit and occasion.
Cocktail and Sons, New Orleans
Max Messier and his wife Lauren Myerscough are both restaurant industry veterans living in the Crescent City. After 10 years of creating cordials, syrups and bitters for brands in New York, Los Angeles and other far off cities, Messier and Myerscough decided to come home to focus on the lost art of the home bar. Together the couple created a line of all-natural syrups designed to be used in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, mojito, gimlet and others. These handcrafted syrups are made with real sugar and no additives and artificial coloring.
El Guapo Bitters, New Orleans
This popular brand of syrups, tonics and bitters was originally founded by a local French Quarter bartender. El Guapo takes pride in locally sourcing its ingredients and using organic sugars, fruits and other additives whenever possible. The company prides itself on being non-GMO and vegetarian as well.
Photo (Proof cocktails): Proof/Instagram
Photo (Pure Southern): Pure Southern/Instagram
Photo (Bang Candy): Bang Candy/Instagram
Photo (Walkers Feed Company): Walkers/Instagram
Photo (Eli Mason): Eli Mason/Instagram
Photo (Liber & Company): Liber & Company/Instagram
Photo (Eli Mason): White Whale Mixers/Instagram
Photo (Bittermilk): Bittermilk/Instagram
Photo (Jack Rudy): Jack Rudy/Instagram
Photo (Cocktail & Sons): Cocktail & Sons/Instagram
Photo (El Guapo): El Guapo/Instagram