Mix up your own bar-worthy local cocktails at home

Locally made garnishes, syrups, juices and more to elevate your bar cart game
big ice cube in a glass with a garnish
Photo by Robert Freeman

There have been a lot of significant changes these past few months, and the location of our drinking is just one of many. Spice up your liquor cabinet with these mixers, garnishes and more from these local vendors.

The Milwaukee-based company Bittercube spends weeks perfecting it hand-crafted bitters. The nine available flavors — each sourced using botanicals grown right in the area — range from a spicy, ginger-heavy Jamaican No. 1 to the Jasmine Bolivar (which is great with champagne). 4828 W Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee, 414-207-6262, bittercube.com

Ditch 7-Up and Coca-Cola for a fancier, more nostalgic option made and sold by Vintage Brewing Co. Using 100% natural beet sugar in place of corn syrup, you’ll less guilty about pouring generously. Vanilla cream goes well with flavored vodka and caramel, root beer with spiced rum and ginger beer for a dark ‘n’ stormy. Multiple locations, 204-2739, vintagebrewingcompany.com

What started as a stovetop effort to make Austin Ashley’s pregnant wife’s stomach settle has now become the WiscoPop soda empire . WiscoPop’s original flavors include ginger, cherry, strawberry and grapefruit, or you can opt for its Sparkle line of lime, ginger or lemon. 1201 North Main St., Viroqua, 638-7632, wiscopopsoda.com

Maple Syrup
Barrel-aged and pulled from the sustainably managed forests of northern Wisconsin, Tapped has all sorts of infused maple syrups for consumption beyond pancakes. Grab your own Cocktail Connoisseur sampler crate to easily make your own Old-Fashioneds. Other infused syrups include hibiscus, hops, turmeric, ginseng, red pepper, ginger, espresso and cinnamon. Multiple retail locations, 715-498-4733, tappedmaplesyrup.com

Fresh Fruits
We have lots of spots to grab produce around town, and fresh fruit are often the best garnishes. Make your own little artworks out of orange peels and carve-able melons, or muddle up a mixture of your favorite tropical to easily upgrade any vodka tonic. Stops like R.E. Golden Produce Co. carry the produce you may have never thought to mix with alcohol, like clementines, cranberries, kiwi, mango and watermelon. 1337 Gilson St., 255-4802, regoldenproduce.com

Edible Flowers
Grow your own indoors or see what the Dane County Farmers’ Market vendors have in stock — either way, edible flowers are a lovely touch to elevate any drink. Gorgeous additions like rose petals are popular, but less glamorous plants like dandelions shouldn’t be ignored either. Learn how to make gorgeous edible flower ice cubes here. dcfm.org

Community Pharmacy has been Madison’s in-residence stop for all things herbal- and wellness-related since 1972. but they definitely aren’t used to being on a cocktail errand list. The massive list of bulk herbs offered can be intimidating, so start out with basics like hibiscus flower, lavender, peppermint leaf, rosehips and rosemary, which could be infused in liquors, simple syrups or as a surprise flavor boost. Multiple locations, 251-3242, communitypharmacy.coop

Simple Syrups
Simple syrups are one of the easiest ways to completely transform your drink game. Quince and Apple has a line of such sweeteners, so choose from tart cherry, tiki pineapple, lime cordial, rhubarb hops or cucumber mint to support this local business. 931 E. Main St., 301-5433, quinceandapple.com

Hot Cocoa
A mug of Colombian dark chocolate deliciousness from Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier will leave you feel heavenly even before adding a hefty portion of Baileys, Kahlua or Rum Chata. 2083 Atwood Ave., 249-3500, gailambrosius.com

Chocolate shavings are one thing, and adding citrus zest is another … but why not do both? Chocolate-dipped orange peels from Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier are the best of both worlds. 2083 Atwood Ave., 249-3500, gailambrosius.com

Mix up these iconic cocktails with a unique twist

The Margarita
Take yourself to the beach with a 3-ingredient coconut margarita, which marries a quick and easy drink of blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and coconut puree. For a floral flair, try mixing tequila and lime juice with hibiscus simple syrup and Cointreau.

The Manhattan
Green is the new black if you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone. The Greenpoint, a variation of the Manhattan, includes whiskey, vermouth, Chartreuse and Angostura Bitters.

The Mojito
Make your mojitos a little snazzier by mixing your typical mint leaves, lime and rum with agave nectar, grapefruit juice and champagne, served over ice. Not your style? Mull some strawberries and raspberries to makeover your Mojito without changing the basics.

The Moscow Mule
Kick it up a few notches by muddling some habanero peppers in your glass, then add your ice, vodka, lime juice and ginger beer to top off the spicy drink.

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