For all the recent success of the craft cocktail movement—increased traffic, higher margins, increased sales—the renaissance doesn’t come without certain pitfalls.
“They’re very cumbersome to make,” notes Rick Ferrone, principal/creative director at Bungalow 23, a company specializing in award-winning premium cocktail mixers. “Lots of ingredients, lots of prep, lots of training. There are, of course, establishments that specialize in [craft cocktails]…if you want to wait 10 minutes for a drink. For most places, though? What they want is the high quality without the inordinate labor needed to prep these drinks.”
Until the emergence of Bungalow 23, restaurants and bars who weren’t willing to throw the time and energy at ingredient prep were stuck fashioning cocktails using high-end craft alcohol paired with low-end pre-mixes, which invariably are high in water, concentrates and unpronounceable artificial flavorings and preservatives.
Using the tried and true car analogy, it was like pumping cheap unleaded into a Bentley.
Enter Bungalow 23 and its line of culinary grade cocktail mixers. Using only the finest and freshest all-natural purees, real fruit juices and homemade extracts made from fresh-cut herbs, the company has basically created a whole new category. “We took cues from the great wines, which are all about starting with the best ingredients,” says Ferrone. Therefore, each ingredient has been hand-selected for taste, resulting in a complex, handcrafted taste profile ideal for pairing with premium spirits. The Bungalow 23 lineup features blueberries grown in the fertile soil of Oregon's Willamette Valley, pears picked from Washington's Wenatchee Valley, prickly pear cactus harvested from California's Salinas Valley, agave from Mexico and lavender from France.
“There a ton of craft quality spirits on the market,” says Ferrone. “It’s the mixers that are the hard part. So the concept behind Bungalow 23 is, let’s make them [the mixers] comparable in quality to the craft spirits so anyone can make a craft cocktail as quickly as you make a gin and tonic.”
Bungalow 23 Culinary Cocktail Mixers come in three delicious flavors: Blueberry Lemondrop, Pear Gingers Martini and Prickly Pear Margarita.
“We started with flavors that people were interested in and then took them to the next level of taste,” says Ferrone. “For example, Appletini is a very popular, but our version goes with pear instead. Lemondrop is another. Our version adds Oregon blueberries and lavender to lemongrass.”
Judging by all the awards Bungalow 23 has already garnered in its brief existence—gold and silver medals in San Francisco’s World Spirit Competition, platinum and gold medals from the SIP Awards, not to mention a 2015 NRA Show FABI Award—it seems that Bungalow 23 is on to something big.