Partner Spotlight: Bittermilk, from Charleston, SC

When someone tells you they can make a GREAT homemade cocktail faster than you can say “Pappy Van Winkle,” it’s hard to believe, right? That’s why Bittermilk will change your cocktail making ways. Anyone who tries our homemade two-step old fashioned can’t believe we were using a mix. But that's why Bittermilk is so great. It's like a fresh, handmade cocktail in a bottle. It also doesn’t hurt that they are from Charleston, SC and share our love for bourbon and the South. We’d already been using their products, and were particularly obsessed with their original barrel aged old fashioned for winter cocktails, when my sister Louise ended up meeting the Bittermilk team last fall at Music To Your Mouth, a festival at Palmetto Bluff and decided we should be in touch.

Here’s a bit more you should know about Bittermilk:

How did it all begin? Founders Joe and MariElena met while in school at The Culinary Institute of America in NY. Before starting to make cocktail mixers, they opened Charleston’s first craft cocktail bar, The Gin Joint. A few years later, they introduced a line of cocktail mixers. Now, Bittermilk has a line of seven cocktail mixers plus they’ve launched two other brands of mixers and syrups.

How did you first connect with Pappy & Company? We first connected with the Van Winkle family while we were operating The Gin Joint. Fast forward several years, and we’re sharing a cottage for the weekend with Julian Van Winkle at Palmetto Bluff during the Music to Your Mouth festival. Fate had it that our paths continued to cross at various events we were both participating at and knew we were destined to work together. It was only a matter of time before the Van Winkle sisters came to us about a collaboration with Pappy & Co. for an Old Fashioned aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels!

What makes the products you produce for Pappy & Company unique?This old fashioned mixer slowly ages in freshly dumped Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels, allowing the classic old fashioned flavors to come together while it takes on subtle notes of whiskey and oak from the barrels.

Describe anything special about your production process or the materials you use: All of our products are handcrafted, and we use interesting culinary techniques in the production process to manipulate the ingredients. We do things like barrel-aging and burning sugar, or charring fresh citrus peels, to make a balanced and complex bottled cocktail mixer.

What values are most important to your company? Much like Pappy & Company we value the quality of our products and take the time to labor over every item we make to ensure this quality. Our company also values our employees and we hope that we create a family-like atmosphere at Bittermilk. We work hard here, but we also have fun while we work.

What would be the next product you would want to collaborate with Pappy & Company on? One of our favorite cocktails is an old fashioned using bourbon barrel smoked maple syrup. We would love to creating another cocktail mixer using Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels – so perhaps a Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Smoked Maple Old Fashioned.

If you could get one piece of advice from Pappy Van Winkle himself, what would it be? Pappy Van Winkle started a business that his family wanted to continue on. We would love for our own children to have the desire to run our family business. So how did he create an atmosphere and a brand that was so rooted in family and that his children wanted to carry on?

Thanks Bittermilk for sharing your thoughts and ideas. We love working with such great partners that share our same values and vision and sure think Bittermilk would be a great family business to continue for generations down the line.

Here’s out foolproof signature Pappy & Company Old Fashioned cocktail recipe:


  • 4 parts of your favorite bourbon or rye
  • 1 part Bittermilk Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Mix

Instructions: Stir with ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy!