The Dish: Bootblack Brand Syrups Make Mixing Cocktails Easy
The complex simple syrups, which include flavors ginger cardamom lime and cranberry jalapeño, can be mixed with spirits and soda to create drinks with delicious flavor profiles.
Like many great businesses, the idea for Bootblack Brand small batch cocktail and soda syrups was born on a bar stool with good friends. Founder Paul Kubisky sipped cocktails at various bars and realized how hard it is for everyday people to mix up great cocktails at home. His brand of complex simple syrups, which includes flavors ginger cardamom lime and cranberry jalapeño, can be mixed with spirits and soda to create drinks with delicious flavor profiles.
“It’s as easy as one, two, three to create a balanced cocktail,” Kubiski says. “We don’t all have four bottles at home, so you take one part syrup, two parts spirits, and three parts seltzer, soda or juice and it makes it easier to have a great cocktail at home.”
Before Bootblack Brand launched, Kubisky had experimented with homemade ginger syrup, testing it out on family and friends in cocktails. “One day, a friend said, ‘you need to sell this.’ I was crazy enough to try it,” he says.
Paul Kubisky, founder of Bootblack Brand.
He learned about Hope and Main’s business incubator program and enrolled while also running design studio, Fire Box Creative, with his wife, Jackie Duhamel, for sixteen years. Hope and Main helped Kubisky obtain licensing and coached the first-timer in food safety requirements, including ServSafe certification. In fact, the business name Bootblack comes not only from his father who shined shoes as a kid, but also from the term bootblack, which means untrained person.
“It’s pretty intimidating to go from making this in a pot on my stove to making twenty gallons of it, and making sure you’re compliant to make a shelf-stable product,” Kubisky says. However, Hope and Main put him at ease and gained his confidence in distribution.
To make Bootblack brand syrups, Kubisky infuses ginger, rosemary and other spices into the simple syrup, while the cranberry jalapeno version uses real cranberries from Wareham along with chopped jalapenos and fresh tarragon. The mixture infuses for several hours then it’s bottled on site at the correct temperature using Hope and Main’s newly purchases four-head filler. “That’s been a Godsend,” he says with a sigh of relief, since he once did it all by hand, one at a time in his kitchen.
Recently, Kubisky was also accepted into the Social Enterprise Greenhouse program where he’s learning more about the networking and educational sides of business. SEG has paired him up with two coaches, including Paul Farber of HEYMB Food Enterprises and Gil MacLean, owner of Bottles Fine Wine and co-creator of Stirrings, the all-natural cocktail mixer brand, out of Fall River, Massachusetts. Kubisky’s goal is to have Bootblack one day be known as a New England product, or even distribute it nationwide.
For now, he and his wife will work side by side, splitting up duties and spreading the word at more than ten farmers markets this spring and summer and through tastings at local liquor stores. Bootblack Brand syrups are available in more than sixty locations, including the Pantry at Avenue N, the Savory Grape, Stock, Bottles Fine Wine, Nikki’s Liquors, Grapes and Grains, Brickyard Spirits and more. It’s also appearing on cocktail menus at Avenue N, Rogue Island, Federal Hill Pizza and Blackie’s Bulldog Tavern. You can even use the syrups for culinary shortcuts, like glazing salmon or pork with either flavor.
Kubisky’s working hard to learn what he needs to know to grow the business and gain investment. “I feel like we’re on the right track, but it’s business, and 80 percent of businesses fail,” he says. “We gotta make sure we’re one of the 20 percent that don’t.” bootblackbrand.com
Three Cocktail Recipes
2-3 oz apple cider
2 oz reposado rum
1 oz cranberry jalapeno lime syrup
Add syrup and rum to shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a Collins glass over ice cubes. Add apple cider, stir gently, and add citrus twist.
.5 oz lime juice
1.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz green chartreuse
.75 oz ginger cardamom lime syrup
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake well, then strain into a coupe glass.
2 oz Rye
.5 oz Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
.5 oz Alessio Vermouth Di Torino Rosso
1 oz Cranberry Jalapeno Lime syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Add rye, syrup and both vermouths to shaker with ice, shake well, then strain into a double old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Float bitters and squeeze lemon wedge into glass, then toast to your friends.