Shake up your cocktail with Ryan Irvine's aromatic Full Measure Bitters.
About six years ago, Ryan Irvine's wife developed a gluten allergy, prompting the couple to ditch their craft beer obsession in favor of cocktails. "The challenge naturally became, How do I improve these drinks?" says the 32-year-old software architect. So he started tinkering with an aromatic bitters mix that uses cardamom, clove and Chinese five-spice powder. After years of experimentation and months of legal wrangling, Full Measure Bitters became the first company in Ohio to legally sell and manufacture bitters. Available since February, his bitters are sold at shops such as Happy Hour Collection and Downtown Liquor, and used in cocktails at spots such as Velvet Tango Room and Society Lounge. "I really wanted to be able to sell it legally to my bartender friends," he says.
Q. How does the taste of your bitters differ from others?
A. Angostura is definitely the most popular bitters in the world. It is clove-heavy and there's a cardamom and lavender element. Ours is based on Chinese five-spice. You still have the clove component, but it's not as pronounced. We're hitting a little bit spicier profile. Ours is also a little more bitter than angostura. Old-fashioneds and Manhattans are really the best way to see what these bitters are for.
Q. How do you make your bitters?
A. Ninety-eight percent of the people who are on the market are using maceration, which is basically when you throw a bunch of ingredients in a container with alcohol and you come back four weeks later. We have a process that allows us to extract in two days. Our method provides a purer expression of the individual ingredients so you can really pick out any of the ingredients.
Q. How does it feel to have Velvet Tango Room owner Paulius Nasvytis endorse your product?
A. If you think about it in terms of the cocktail movement, he was a solid 12 years ahead of his time. He obviously knows what he's talking about. I'm friends with him and his partner, Claudia. They have two of the most discerning palates I've ever encountered.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. We're going to do something based on a garam masala spice blend. I have an idea for a spicier, Mexican-inspired bitters that I'm calling chupacabra bitters.