HipStirs is the latest player in the craft cocktail mixer category, a newbie since it only launched in 2022. All their expressions are strictly non-alcoholic syrups which aim to simplify the process of making cocktails at home: Just pour the mixer and the base of your choice — alcoholic or non — and voila. If you are looking for something quick and tasty to be able to whip up at home with no fuss and no embellishments, HipStirs hopes to be your go-to.
So let’s get to it. Today we take a turn with their most recent expressions, all designed for the holiday season.
HipStirs Old Fashioned Syrup – The IBA-approved recipe for an old fashioned includes whiskey, sugar cube, and Angostura bitters (which is generically described as being made of gentian, herbs and spices). The listed ingredients in the Old Fashioned Syrup are therefore unsurprisingly comprised of nothing more than water, cane sugar, and aromatic bitters. Does this sound like all you need at home then is your own bottle of Angostura bitters? Yes. The Old Fashioned cocktail is not that complicated. But I don’t think HipStirs are trying to fool you. The benefit of a pre-mix is that you remove a couple of steps of measuring before you add the whiskey. In short, if you like making cocktails at home but really don’t aspire to bartender or mixologist, this is for you. So let’s make an Old Fashioned with HipStirs. I followed the recipe on their website which simply called for 2 ounces of rye whiskey and 0.5 ounces of syrup. For my first attempt, I shook the two ingredients in ice then strained the cocktail. The result was somewhat true to an Old Fashioned but with a bit more syrupy body and slightly more sweetness for my own personal preference. Nothing a few tweaks couldn’t cure for anyone who is particular about their cocktail. For me, it was a drop of added rye, one modest dash of orange bitters, and re-shaking with ice then re-straining. (OK, I may have squeezed a wee bit of lemon.) That did the trick for me. A-
HipStirs Cranberry Pie Syrup – The name is cute, but the ingredients are simply water, cane sugar, and organic cranberry juice concentrate. Which, honestly, is a relief to me since I prefer to have a bit more control on the balance of any additional flavors such as lemon or I guess, “pie” pastry notes such as butter or salt (of which, we now know, there are none). The recipe options on their website for the Cranberry Pie Syrup are more involved than my cupboard could accommodate, so I opted to just wing it by adding 0.5 ounces of the syrup to a concoction based on items on hand – some bourbon, a few dashes of ginger bitters, and a twisted lemon slice. I’m sure this is close enough to some classic cocktail, and I have to say I enjoyed this kitchen sink improvisation. The cranberry syrup comes through with a headiness of Port. It didn’t appear as sweet as the Old Fashioned syrup, so this was the right balance for my tastes — and rather versatile. Another contender for being a bar staple for the cocktails-in-a-flash crowd. A-
HipStirs Pumpkin Spice Syrup – I will disclose I am not a fan of pumpkin anything if it’s not in a pie. But I understand much of the world welcomes pumpkin in everything this time of year, so I concede that this might be a good expression to make available to the masses to pumpkify drinks to their hearts’ desire. Since this is a non-alcoholic syrup and not a liqueur, this does mean you can whip up your own pumpkin spice latte at home if you so choose. Indeed, two of the cocktails on their website call for cold brew coffee. (They see you!) For the sample cocktail, I opted for Grandma’s Special Sauce, of which the name gave me a good chuckle. It is merely bourbon, the Pumpkin Pie syrup, and Angostura bitters. And… it’s good, with a mellow creamy sort of sweetness from sweetened pureed pumpkins and less of a confectionary flavoring. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss the annual pumpkin takeover. A nice stocking stuffer or host gift for the upcoming season of feasts. A-
$40 for trio of 8 ounce bottles, $15 individually / hipstirs.com