Elevate happy hour at home with refined mixers

By Jane Kellogg Murray

Over the years, the quality and variety of a home’s bar cart has become a prime indicator of the host’s sophistication. And any good host knows that if you want your home efforts to mirror those of the world’s top cocktail dens, you need to bring in more than just fine liquors. Bars these days have upped the ante, brandying cherries in house instead of stocking the sugary bright-red maraschinos of yore, infusing bitters with citrus and lemongrass as opposed to artificial flavorings, and serving their libations in heavy crystal and copper mugs without fear of appropriation.

For those of you who like to keep your bartending game on the level of the pros, it’s suddenly a whole lot easier, with the help of crafted mixers from the fine Southerners behind Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. This family-run, small-batch bar goods company operates out of Charleston, South Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky. Master mixologist Brooks Reitz fine tunes the recipes, which are then transferred into apothecary-style bottles and shipped around the globe, ending up in the kitchens of high-end restaurants, on the shelves of refined cocktail bars, and in the lucky hands of discriminating home barkeeps—like yourself.

Tasty tidbits

  • The company is named after the great-grandfather of the two owners, a WWII vet who used to make his own bullets. Legend has it he loved to entertain and was known to get more than his fill of life’s pleasures: drinking, smoking, and his wife’s cooking.
  • The tonic is Jack Rudy’s claim to fame. Sold as a syrup, it has a depth of flavor that sets it apart from competing products. With it’s mixture of botanicals and cane sugar to quinine, this concentrated elixir is designed to pair perfectly with your favorite gin—just add soda water.
  • To develop their second line—grenadine—they started with pomegranate juice from a small family farm in Madera, California. The rich syrup is then concocted by adding cane sugar and orange flower water. Use it in classic drinks like the Jack Rose or El Presidente.
  • Jack Rudy developed aromatic bitters using burnt cane sugar syrup as its base, and layered it with complex notes of citrus, winter spices, and bittering agents. Try it in classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned, or cure the worst of hangovers by adding a few drops to soda water or ginger ale.
  • Next up: Jack Rudy is trying to shake things up in the travel industry with their Carry On Cocktail Kit, created in collaboration with W&P Designs. Their latest iteration has all the tools you’d need to create two Champagne cocktails from the comfort of your not-so-comfortable airplane seat. The kit includes Jack Rudy Elderflower Tonic, a custom jigger, barspoon, linen coaster, and the recipe for two cocktails. Just order bubbly from your flight attendant and get the party started.

Jack and the Beanstalk

by Ryan Case, FIG Restaurant, Charleston, SC

1-1/2 oz Bluecoat Gin
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic
1/4 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit

Shake over ice, strain, and serve up with a flamed orange peel