If you want to celebrate the New Year with a special cocktail, but also like to keep it simple, drop one of Johanna Corman’s bitters-infused sugar cubes into your glass.

Corman, co-owner of Vena’s Fizz House in Portland, makes the sugar cubes in Aromatic, Bitter Orange, Fire & Smoke, and Vanilla Chai flavors. They come in 2-ounce jars that contain about 45 sugar cubes each.

Sugar cubes have long been a delivery vehicle for bitters, but usually the bitters are dripped onto the cube and then muddled into the drink. Corman thought it would be fun to try cutting out a step by infusing whole sugar cubes with bitters. She mixes up the sugar and bitters and presses the mixture into molds she found online. After a little experimentation, she discovered it was best to let the infused cubes dry overnight. She also experimented with different types of sugar – brown sugar and coconut sugar – but so far has been happiest with organic cane sugar.

The aromatic bitters add a hint of spiced cinnamon or clove to a drink and will go with anything, including a Champagne cocktail, Corman says. The bitter orange works well in an Old Fashioned. Try the Fire & Smoke, made with habanero chile, in tequila and bourbon-based cocktails. “I put some chipotle in there, too, so you get a smoky heat in it,” Corman said.
The sugar cubes can also be used in mocktails, tea, or even a glass of seltzer.

The infused cubes have become so popular that Corman had to stop selling them wholesale because she can’t make enough. “I’m trying to figure out a way to ramp up production,” she said.

The jars cost $8 and are available at Vena’s Fizz House and through its online store. —


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