Fee Brothers – Syrup and Bitter Tasting

I must say, I don’t think I’ve experienced better customer service from a company in a long while. My phone conversation went something like this.

“I don’t believe that your product is distributed to my area; is there a way I can still order some syrups?”

“Of course! We will gladly ship them directly to you.”

From there I told her that I wanted to order some 4/5 pint bottles of pineapple, raspberry, orgeat, falernum, and American Beauty grenadine syrups and some small bottles of old-fashioned, orange, and peach bitters. When I asked if I could just pay by credit card, I was surprised to hear that they didn’t accept them and that I would have to pay by check. The next part, though, amazed me.

“We’ll get that shipped to you today or tomorrow, and you should have it by by Friday (3 days from now), and we’ll send you a separate invoice. Oh, and we’ll make sure to ship that as cheaply as possible and charge you what they charge us.”

My little box arrived Friday, well packaged and in good order. I greedily ripped open the box for a tasting.


Pineapple – The aroma is very similar to opening can of pineapple slices in syrup. The taste is much different, almost like dried pineapple. Although it lacks any sense of fresh pineapple, it tasted fairly good, and I could see it working in various cocktails superbly.

Raspberry – According to my fine lady, it smells like a Cherry Merry Muffin doll’s hair. I cannot attest to the accuracy of this statement, but I will agree that it does not smell like raspberries. The taste, I must honestly say, is not one I would like to experience again. Think 50 year-old, moldy Luden’s cough drops. I did try this in the East India Cocktail, and it ruined the drink completely.

Orgeat – The aroma is nearly identical to almond paste. The taste is interesting, with a subtle citric acid taste accompanying the almond flavor. Imagine a super creamy, super sweet amaretto. I think this has potential.

Falernum – It smells of cloves and other spices. I have never had real Falernum, but I imagine that it tastes like a less sweet, better version of this syrup. Hopefully I can get my hands on a bottle out of state to compare.

American Beauty Grenadine – It smells heavily of cherry jolly ranchers and tastes a bit like melted freeze pops. Normally this wouldn’t be bad, but these are not smells and tastes I would like in a cocktail. A quick comparison to the homemade stuff confirmed my feelings. Homemade is far superior.


Peach – These bitters had a very nice aroma of peaches and tasted surprisingly not bitter at all… and very much like peaches. I’m excited to discover some cocktails that employ their use. Any suggestions?

Orange – These smelled a bit like burnt orange peel and tasted putrid. A quick comparison to Regan’s No. 6 Orange Bitters confirmed the putrid taste, but to my great interest, the two smelled and tasted very different. I look forward to a comparison in some drinks in the future.

Old-Fashioned – Cloves were prominent in the aroma and taste. A comparison to Angostura was similar to the orange bitter comparision. Very different, both interesting.

6 Responses to “Fee Brothers – Syrup and Bitter Tasting”

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6 Comments to “ Fee Brothers – Syrup and Bitter Tasting”
  1. paulNo Gravatar says:

    I’m actually quite fond of Fee’s old-fashioned aromatic bitters. I think the clove/cinnamon component in them works quite well in drinks containing bourbon or rye as the base spirit–such as Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and, my personal favorite, Police Gazette cocktails–while Angostura’s deeper, more subtle flavor is good when you want the bitters to stand back a bit, like in gin- or brandy-based drinks such as a Pegu Club or a Japanese cocktail. But that’s just personal preference–either way, I enjoy the OFAB a lot, and I probably use more of them than I do of Angostura.

    The orange bitters aren’t too bad, but Regan’s really clobbers them. I used to enjoy Fee’s orange in Manhattans and martinis, but I think I haven’t even opened the bottle since Regan’s came out.

    The peach have an nice, gentle flavor, but they tend to fade in a drink. On occasion I’ll use them in an Old Fashioned with a soft, wheated bourbon like Maker’s Mark or Weller 12 year old, but you have to dash the hell out of them into your glass to notice their presence. Zig Zag Cafe here in Seattle has a drink called the Trident on their cocktail menu, that uses the peach bitters with Cynar, aquavit and dry sherry. Interesting. If you like, I’ll ask for the recipe the next time I’m in there, probably sometime this week.

  2. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    That’s quite surprising that they shipped all that to you and invoiced you later. This definitely sounds like something that I might have to do as well, considering that the selection of bitters and syrups is generally very poor in local stores. The only thing I see regularly is Angostura bitters.

    What was the total cost of all this?

  3. RickNo Gravatar says:

    The total cost came out to right around $30, including shipping (which was about $7).

    I definitely have experienced the same with my local stores: Angostura and chemical grenadine.

    I’ve been thinking about placing an order with Trader Vics to do some comparisons and pick up some items that Fees does not carry.

  4. ben wolfsonNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve used the peach bitters to make an old fashioned variant with some simple syrup and rye. It comes out a little sweet because of the sweetness of the bitters, but I like it.

  5. Thomas CookNo Gravatar says:

    I just got a bottle of orange bitters from Fees. Same story – wonderful service talking to the owner. UPS lost the package but Fees reshipped lightning fast.

  6. RickNo Gravatar says:

    We all really need to hold a party for Fee’s. I’m running out of my wonderfully complex orange bitters, and I’m looking forward to ordering more, simply to bask in the wonder of their customer service.

    It’s a bit of a shame, but my Regan’s bottle is collecting globs of dust. Is anyone else using them?

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