Best New Bar Products: Part 1

We rounded up some of the best non-alcoholic mixers and accessories that debuted at this year's Tales for your perusal.
Raleigh, NC's Crude Bitters were one of the stand-out products at this year's Tales of the Cocktail.
Raleigh, NC's Crude Bitters were one of the stand-out products at this year's Tales of the Cocktail.

A great cocktail is only as good as its ingredients. So, if you’re using great spirits, it goes without saying that everything else in the drink (and the experience) should be just as stellar. Here’s Part 1 of our roundup of some of the best non-alcoholic finds that debuted at the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail.

Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix: Charleston mixologist John Aquino was asked to come up with a custom Bloody Mary for the end of a charity race. “After you’ve been running, you don’t want a salt bomb,” he says. He decided to model his light and refreshing Bloody Mary on his friend’s yellow tomato gazpacho. Aquino combined locally harvested yellow tomatoes, locally made sweet hot pickle vinegar, and green hot with a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice — after the race, people started asking for it.

Charleston bartender John Aquino based his Bloody Mary mix on his friend's yellow tomato gazpacho.“Basically, I just did it for fun, and it took off,” says Aquino, who is looking to nationally distribute his locally made product. “It’s got a fourth of the normal sodium of a typical Bloody Mary, and it has no additives, preservatives, sodium benzoate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, MSG or any of that stuff,” he adds. “It’s all natural. Some chefs are using it for ceviches and marinades, and I’ve heard that one football coach is using it instead of Gatorade.”

Bloody Fitzgerald

recipe by Michael Fitzgerald of The Refuge on the Isle of Palms

  • 1 part premium vodka (your choice)
  • 1 part Michael's Signature Bloody Mix (Chipotle, cumin, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire and other proprietary spices)
  • 1 part Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix
  • Garnish with cucumber ribbon and rosemary spear

Scott Holstein created Industry Juice specifically for the bar industry. Scott Holstein created Industry Juice specifically for the bar industry.

Industry Juice: Juicing 20 dozen limes before opening and then running out when there’s a run on Daiquiris can be a bar manager’s worst nightmare. Borrowing the high-pressure preserving technique from the kale-apple-cranberry juices found at upscale grocery stores, Scott Holstein created Industry Juice specifically for bars.

“Our mission is to keep your creative juices flowing — it’s kind of a pun, but really, our goal is to help mixologists do their artistry,” Holstein says. “We’re the paint, and they’re the artists. We’ve taken out the labor, extracted all the price variances and yield issues, and we ship directly to any bar in the country at 50 cents an ounce. We’re the closest thing to juicing on premise.”

One of their secrets, he says, is that they measure the Brix (or sweetness) of every batch, and they keep the sweetness uniform so bars know exactly what they'll get each time. In addition to the lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple juices that were sampled at Tales, Holstein now juices watermelon and cucumbers at the request of a large bar group. He’s also started taking orders from the back of the house, from chefs who want to use it for ceviches and marinades.

Industry Juice's Urban Garden Margarita uses their cold-pressed pineapple and lime juice.

The Urban Garden Margarita

Directions: Combine and stir all ingredients over ice. Garnish with slice of bell pepper and fresh sage.

Industry Juice's Summer Paloma

Summer Paloma

Directions: Shake first four ingredients together in a shaker filled with ice. Then top with Fever Tree Ginger Beer and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Crude Bitters: Craig Rudewicz started out making bitters, syrups, shrubs, and sodas for friends and relatives…and then demand grew it into a business that he and his wife, Lindsay Lasserre, run in Raleigh, NC. The inventive bitters have equally inventive names like Bitterless Marriage and Sycophant. “I started naming them after pets, but then Bitterless Marriage was made for two of our friends who got married. All of the ingredients have to do with marriage: hibiscus, lavender, and oak,” Rudewicz says. “Women used to wear flowers behind their ears when they were ready to be married, lavender signifies devotion, and oak for strength.”

Crude's shrub syrups are macerations made with chopped fruit, cane sugar and vinegar, and are often mixed with just seltzer or used as cocktail mixers. Crude's shrub syrups are made with chopped fruit, cane sugar and vinegar, and are excellent with just seltzer or as mixers.

In addition to their regular lineup, they make seasonal bitters, like a new tiki bitters every spring and summer. No No, a blend of very hot peppers, is being released this fall, and before winter, they are also releasing Attawanhood, made with cherry, clove and cinnamon for dark spirits and winter drinks. “This is named for the street I grew up on, and this flavor is the closest we do to traditional Angostura bitters,” he says. “I always thought it was funny that Angostura and Attawanhood were just two long, weird-sounding A-names.”

Coconut Jungle Bird

  • 1 oz. dark rum
  • 0.75 oz. coconut rum
  • 0.75 oz. Campari
  • 0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz. simple syrup

Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into Collins glass over crushed ice. Add dropper of Crude "Tiki Threeki," "Tiki Two-Two," "Rizzo," or "Sycophant" bitters to top.

Shrub and Soda

  • 1 oz. white rum, blanco tequila, or gin
  • 0.75 oz. Crude Watermelon-Basil shrub or Cucumber shrub
  • top with seltzer

Directions: Place all ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir gently to incorporate. If using Watermelon Basil, add 6 to 8 drops Crude "Bitterless Marriage" or "Sweet and Thai Basil" bitters to top. If using Cucumber, add 6 to 8 drops Crude "Rizzo" or "Sycophant" bitters to top.

Hackler was inspired to create his own blend of kosher salt, fiery chile, and tart citrus after visiting the town of Tequila, Mexico. Hackler was inspired to create his own blend of kosher salt, fiery chile, and tart citrus after visiting the town of Tequila, Mexico.

Halo del Santo: When Scott Hackler visited the town of Tequila, Mexico, he sipped a margarita rimmed with a blend of chiles, lime, and salt. The blend was a bit chunky, but the flavor profile was spot-on, so four years ago, he started making his own (smoother) blend.

“If you put down $14 for a Margarita made with a really nice tequila, your garnish should match. Even before you taste what’s in the glass, you taste what’s on the rim, and we take that seriously,” he says. “The name comes from the idea that a good drink should have a halo floating above it, just like a halo floats above the head of a good person. A halo rim is spicy and sour and salty, so there’s more going on with it.”

Besides Margaritas, the Halo garnish works well with Palomas, Bloody Marys and Marias, and Micheladas. Hackler also makes a line of gourmet Mexican-spiced lollipops, which can also garnish drinks, and he’s got a new line of tropical flavors coming out later this year.


  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 oz. Topo Chico mineral water
  • Halo del Santo garnish
  • Lemon wedge

Directions: Stir together vodka, lemon juice and sparkling mineral water. Pour into a glass filled with ice that has been rimmed first with lemon juice and dipped in Halo del Santo garnish. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Jeanette Hurt is the author of Drink Like a Woman and is an award-winning writer focused on spirits, food and travel.

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