Workhorse Rye’s limited edition Finger Lime & Cacao are the first “cocktail augmenters” to be featured on Whiskey Writes, and after my previous encounter with their India Pear Bitters I’ve been super excited to review these. Workhorse describes these as “somewhere between a condensed shrub and a bright bitters” which is a fairly accurate [if not overly simplified] description, hence them being called “cocktail augmenters” rather than straight up bitters.
Unlike the India Pear bitters, these don’t have quite such a laundry list of ingredients but even in their simplicity, they manage to shine and pack a wallop of flavour. Aside from the finger limes, grown on Tenalu Farm, they also include; Cacao grown in Ambanja, Madagascar and roasted in San Francisco by Dandelion Chocolate, Eleuthero root [bittering agent akin to ginsing], lemon verbena, and Piran grey salt by Bitterman Salt Co.
These ingredients were macerated in Workhorse’s Rye whiskey as well as “Proving Ground IPA” by Magnolia brewing for two months. These were then bottled to a very limited batch, only 77 are available, and are likely almost sold out by now. Now, on to the review.
These are intense, the finger lime’s zest and the floral bitter lemon verbana hit you immediately, washing your tongue in a bright citrus perfume. After this you can pick out the slightly bitter IPA and a little bit of the rye’s spice. With so many powerful & bright notes the cacao really becomes the foundation here and after the initial waves of flavour have crashed on the shore of your palate, the chocolaty base tones, along with the bitter Eleuthero root round out the finish. The salt, is not a very present player as far as taste is concerned and is likely there to help open up the different receptors on your tongue to the different flavours involved. The final result is a slightly tingly, almost menthol effect with the lime, citrus, and Eleuthero leaving a tingly fresh sensation on your tongue.
Workhorse Rye’s Finger Lime & Cacao cocktail augmenters really set themselves apart and earn their eclectic title. The list of ingredients may not be long but each one really brings their own personality into the mix to create a truly unique piece of work. These would be fantastic in simple gin drinks to add additional zing and zest, they would really liven up a Manhattan if you had some unimpressive vermouth and only bottom shelf whiskey on hand, as well as some sour or smash based cocktails to bring in some added nuance.
CLICK HERE to visit Workhorse Rye’s site to read more about them, get some cocktail recipes & other recommendations, and if you’re lucky you might still be able to pick yourself up a bottle.