The Dish: Bootblack Brand Syrups Make Mixing Cocktails Easy
The complex simple syrups 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 Kubiski sipped cocktails at various bars and realized how hard it is for people to mix up great cocktails at home. His brand of complex simple syrups, which includes flavors for Modern and Traditional Old Fashioneds, Ginger Cardamom Lime, Cranberry Jalapeño, Spiced Honey Hot Toddy and Classic Citrus Tonic, can be mixed with spirits, soda and other ingredients 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 always have four bottles of ingredients at home, so you can 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, Kubiski 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.
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 Kubiski 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 ensuring you’re compliant to make a shelf-stable product,” Kubiski says. However, Hope and Main put him at ease and gained his confidence for distribution. Three years later, their business now has its own commercial kitchen in Pawtucket’s Lorraine Mills.
To make Bootblack brand syrups, Kubiski 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 mixtures infuse for several hours then they are bottled on site.
Kubiski also completed the Social Enterprise Greenhouse program several years ago, where he learned more about the networking and educational sides of business. SEG 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.
Bootblack Brand syrups are available in more than sixty locations, including the Pantry at Avenue N, the Savory Grape, Stock, Bottles Fine Wines, Nikki’s Liquors, Grapes and Grains, Brickyard Spirits and more. The cocktail syrups are also available nationally through the website and wholesale with online distributors faire.com and helloabound.com.
You can even use the syrups for culinary shortcuts, like glazing salmon or pork with either flavor. bootblackbrand.com
Three Cocktail Recipes
How to use the cranberry jalapeno syrup
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.
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.
How to use the ginger cardamom lime syrup
.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.
Make a Modern Old Fashioned
Mix up the Oaxacan Old Fashioned by adding two ounces of tequila and a half ounce of the Modern Old Fashioned Syrup, stir and enjoy!