Dig Baton Rouge

Better Bitters

The Cocktail Experiment creates local cocktail mixers

If a man is only as good as his shoes, a cocktail can only be as good as its mixers. That’s why The Cocktail Experiment created its signature line of simplistic, yet delicious, bitters, syrups, and mixers in June of 2016.

The Cocktail Experiment, brainchild of Baton Rouge locals Kramer Ritchie, Kevin Doyle, and Josh Duke, began with only flavored simple syrups and a Bloody Mary mix, but quickly expanded its palette.

“A couple years before this started, I played around with bitters at home and I had all these random ingredients: barks and roots and warts—things that you can’t just pick up at the corner store,” says Ritchie, Brand Director at The Cocktail Experiment. “Kevin was a similarly inquisitive fellow and started asking ‘Do you have gentian? Do you have cinchona?’ I happened to.”

A few weeks later, Kevin returned with the first iteration of The Cocktail Experiment’s Black Pepper, Orange, and Aromatic bitters (a play on classic Angostura bitters), and the recipes used for the Black Pepper and Orange bitters is the one found on shelves today.

“We wanted to create something for the guy at the house looking at BarNotes (a popular iPhone app that lists cocktail recipes) or the guy at home looking at Reddit saying, ‘I want to make that.’”

In an industry full of super-secret recipes and trademarked methodologies, Ritchie wanted to create a product that was transparent.

“What are Burlesque Bitters? What are J. Thomas Decanter bitters, exactly? It would be bad business for those makers to say exactly what’s in their product, but our model is simple. We don’t want Lavender bitters to have hints of citrus, we want a bright, clean lavender flavor. If [our bitters] do have something else going on, it’s something complimentary: [our orange bitters] have cardamom and ginger to make it taste more like fresh orange. That’s what we always wanted. It’s simple, but it’s not intimidating in price or flavor for the guy at home.”

The Cocktail Experiment’s catalog grows organically based on a mix of customer and bartender requests, as well as personal curiosity. Their Hibiscus Syrup was tailored for Marshall Kemp, beverage program director at Tsunami, and their Fig + Honey cordial was created specifically for Floriano Taviani, Vice President of International Wine and Spirits.

“The goal has kind of always been to do liqueurs and cordials if we can make it happen, and in the next few years we’d like to set up a spirits line out of Houston, but again, it has to happen organically.”

Currently, The Cocktail Experiment only distributes locally, but Amazon and Wholesale purchases have landed the products around the country, the most popular of which being their Lavender bitters. Judging by the bounty of cocktail and food recipes found on their website (www.thecocktailexperiment.com), it’s only a matter of time before this Baton Rouge company appears in the new generation of cocktail manuals.

Photos by Sean Gasser


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