Here are my favorite sources for the more esoteric ingredients, as well as a couple of new discoveries:
- Small Hand Foods - San Francisco-area bartender Jennifer Colliau started this company to provide local bartenders with great ingredients for classic cocktails. I first found out about her company when I was in SF last spring, and I have since had an opportunity to use the grenadine and pineapple gum syrup. The syrups are great, as good as you'd want them to be if you were making them, without having to go to the effort (and have less than stellar results). The website lists a Chicago-area distributor, but I haven't seen these anywhere yet. Hopefully they'll start showing up soon.
- Trader Tiki - Portland area cocktail enthusiast and bartender extraordinaire Blair Reynolds (aka Trader Tiki) started this company to provide great ingredients for quality Tiki cocktails and other libations. He got started late last year, and I am anxiously awaiting my first order of cinnamon syrup, Don's mix, and orgeat. I see some great Tiki drinks in my future, which I need after my last tiki bar trip. Blair is one of the first people I met at my first Tales of the Cocktail, at which time he gave me a small bottle of his house-made bitters (which are great). I always knew we'd be friends after that! And besides, who can resist this description: "A brilliant combination of Barbados grapefruit and Asian cinnamon creating a newfound flavor which is best tasted to be believed. Best used in the Donga Punch, this recipe applies perfectly to a Zombie and creates a wonderful punch with just rum, lime, and ice!"
- Scrappy's Bitters - I just found these at Provenance in Logan Square, and picked up the grapefruit bitters. Unfortunately, that was all they had in stock at the time - apparently the chocolate bitters and some of the others have been popular with a couple of local mixologists. I really like these bitters so far, although I have just started working with them. I can't tell from the website who is behind these, but Joe at Provenance said they're coming from Seattle.
- Cocktail Kingdom - I haven't ordered from these folks yet, but they have a great array of bitters, syrups, books, and tools on their website. You can order most of the above products at once from them, and more, if you wanted. I've got my eye on a couple of things on there, and my birthday is coming, so..... fingers crossed!