Gram Howle’s assortment of handcrafted bitters—blended in Mason jars filled with high-proof alcohol and roots, fruits, and flowers—are reminiscent of an old-timey apothecary’s cabinet. But his Newtonian Beverage Company concoctions aren’t for medicinal purposes—well, unless you count nursing a Manhattan as preventative medicine. They are, in fact, what Howle describes as the “salt and pepper” of cocktails, that little extra flavor that makes a drink shine.
The Husk bartender founded his bitters biz when he noticed a lack of quality cocktail ingredients. “Many bitters have artificial coloring and flavoring in them,” Howle says. Working out of the L.I.M.E. Events’ catering kitchen, he began experimenting with everything from citrus rinds to mugwort. After creating as many exotic bitters flavors as he could think of, Howle gave his work the ultimate test and brought samples to chef Sean Brock. The James Beard Award-winner gave his stamp of approval. “When Sean said he liked them, I knew I had something,” Howle recalls.
And now other restaurants around town are beginning to see the value, too. Try Newtonian bitters at Husk, Proof, or The Macintosh and look for the blue bottles to hit more Charleston bars soon.