LabelMaker Bitters Elevate the Cocktail Game in Westchester

This Dobbs Ferry-based company is enhancing the county’s drinks with craft bitters.

Mike Casale has a weakness for well-crafted cocktails — and not just any amalgamation of ingredients in a shaker, but the kind of drinks that end up on Top and Can’t Miss lists — that tend to warrant a ride on a southbound Metro-North train. Cue the grinding halt that the pandemic brought all traversing, and Casale was experimenting at home with different flavor combos of something easy to scale but so important to a cocktail: bitters. “Eventually I kind of liked what I was doing and decided, hey, maybe this would be a cool thing to take from hobby to business,” thus bringing LabelMaker Bitters into the world.

If you ask the common cocktail drinker, they can probably tell you the bottle bitters come in (yellow cap, oversized label, the works) but can’t tell you what they are. So, allow us: Bitters are flavor extracts made when infusing botanicals in a neutral alcohol, with just a few drops adding a profound depth of flavor to whatever is in your glass. Casale compares it to vanilla extract, in a way. Originally, bitters were used medicinally, a trope that he wants to steer away from in his style. “Every sort of branded bitters I see tends to be a little bit medicinal or old-timey looking,” Casale says. “I wanted to modernize it a bit more, with the bold colors and punny names.”

Mike Casale
Photos by @kianadavalos

For his flavor combinations, Casale yearned for something vastly different than what’s available on the mass market. “I wanted to make sure they could complement one another, and you can use them in a variety of drinks,” he says. “I really want to make sure whatever you’d like to drink, old fashioneds or margaritas, etc., you’d have sort of bitters to pair with it.” His three core flavors are spicy pepper, coffee walnut, and citrus, but keep your eyes peeled for seasonal sirens like the chocolate gingerbread for Christmas and the jazz juice for Mardi Gras.

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bitters
Photos by @kianadavalos

The bitters aren’t exclusively for an alcoholic good time, and Casale encourages all mix and matches of liquids and bitters. “I add a few dashes of the walnut bourbon to my coffee in the morning,” says Casale. “It gives it a little extra without adding a ton of sugars — it’s a nice, healthier way to get some flavor into a coffee.”

You can find Mike and LabelMaker at your local farmers’ market.

LabelMaker Drinks
Dobbs Ferry
Website

Related: 5 Places to Get Flower-Themed Drinks in Westchester

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