Hudson Valley Bitters and Shrubs to Color Your Cocktails

Artisanal makers and distilleries craft herbal mixers that jazz up mixed drinks, sodas, and more.

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Who doesn’t dream of mastering the secrets to the artisanal cocktails that color bar menus across the Hudson Valley? While we may not be able to rival local bartenders when it comes to crafting signature drinks, that doesn’t mean we don’t all have the wherewithal to concoct delectable beverages at home.

The secret? Add-ins. More specifically, handmade, all-natural bitters and shrubs that concentrate the best of local flavors into one bottle. If you’ve never heard of bitters and shrubs before, don’t fret (but do take notes). The apothecary-style products differ in composition and use, but both offer a whole new world when it comes to crafting delectable drinks at home.


When natural ingredients like bark, herbs, and plant roots infuse into alcohol, the resulting liquids are highly concentrated, potent, and perfect for flavoring herbal cocktails and food.

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Dutch’s Spirits, Pine Plains

At Dutch’s, the bootlegging spirit extends to artisanal bitters with delightful old-timely names. Sample the Colonial Cocktail Bitters, flavored with everything from French lavender and Mexican allspice to Ceylon cinnamon and Egyptian chamomile. To spice up a gin martini, opt for the ProhiBitters, a citrusy liquid with notes of licorice, hibiscus, ginger root, and coriander.

Sawkill Creek, Woodstock

Although the small batch Woodstock company focuses on craft wines and liquors, it also produces a few signature bitters that are available on a very limited basis. Add the Wild Hibiscus Bitters to sparkling wine or place a few drops of the Black Walnut Bitters into a hum-drum Old Fashioned for a new twist on a time-honored classic.

The Hudson Standard, Hudson

Made almost entirely from Hudson Valley ingredients, The Hudson Standard’s bitters are free from preservatives and artificial flavorings. All rely upon New York State organic grain alcohol as a base and draw their flavor from barks and herbs. Add the Catskill Masala Bitters, heightened with turmeric and Hudson Valley spicebush, to a Mai Tai, or switch things up and pour a few drops of the Ginger Bitters into your favorite sauce or dessert.

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Tuthilltown Spirits, Gardiner

Tuthilltown does a lot of things well (spirits, food, you get the picture), and bitters are most definitely one of those things. Test your taste buds with a classic bottle of Basement Bitters, which feel like they came right from the height of the Prohibition Era. The rye base draws its aromatic flavor from sarsaparilla, maple syrup, and rye whiskey barrels. Drip a few pearls of it into a Manhattan for a flavorful update.


Unlike bitters, shrubs are alcohol-free. The zingy mixers rely upon apple cider vinegar as a base and take their flavor from concentrations of fruit and herbs.

The Hudson Standard, Hudson

Not just a bitters brand, The Hudson Standard also crafts Americana-inspired shrubs, which are made from fruit, vinegar, spices, and sweeteners. Throw the Watermelon Chill Shrub into a cocktail or keep it light with a soda-style mix of Raspberry Verbena Shrub and seltzer water. No matter which shrub you choose, all use organic apple cider vinegar from the Finger Lakes as a base.

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Meadowbloom Coffee & Flowers, Catskills

Although Meadowbloom is still in its early days of operation, shrub lovers might want to take note of the Hudson Valley brand now. The husband-and-wife duo who run the 1969 A-108 traveling coffee and flower shop handcraft their own bitters in the Catskills. One taste of the organic, cold-pressed citrus vanilla shrub soda from the roaming truck and you’ll be begging for a bottle to go.

Finger Lakes Harvest Shrubs, Finger Lakes

While its headquarters reside in the Finger Lakes, the shrub company is a regular at food and craft festivals in the Hudson Valley. Sample natural shrubs flavored with rhubarb, ginger, black currant, and more in their pure form or mix them into sodas, cocktails, or even water for a refreshing drink at any hour of the day.

Related: Turn Your Summer Sangria Into the Perfect Fall Cocktail

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