Review: Filthy Cocktail Kits and Garnishes
Filthy is based in Miami and is the latest contender in the cocktail kit arena trying to raise the bar (this pun was unavoidable) for the DIY home classic cocktail game. Filthy was founded by Daniel Singer because, well, accordingly to the website, “He loved cocktails but couldn’t understand why the best bartenders were using shitty, chemically cured salad olives and dessert cherries to garnish their premium drinks.”
This prompted Daniel and his brother Marc to hone in initially on higher quality alternatives to the mainstay cocktail garnishes, starting with olives and cherries. Their offerings have expanded into full cocktail kits alongside garnishes, with the continued focus on attention to detail in high quality cultivation, sourcing, and preparation of ingredients. Their formula seems to be working despite the crowded playing field as they’ve seen their humble beginnings from the “trunk of their cars and on subway trains” bloom into seeing products appearing at some of the best establishments around the world.
It’s time to crack open some kits and see how they shake out.
Filthy Margarita Mix – The handy recipe card simply states that you mix a 2:1 ratio of Filthy Margarita Mix to tequila (and you can always add a lime wheel for kicks). With the exception of ascorbic acid, the ingredients are limited to what you would normally use and want for making your own: fresh lime juice, organic blue agave nectar, and filtered water. There are no surprises in the ingredients then, but anyone’s whoever tried to make a margarita from scratch knows that there is a mystical (and for me, evasive) art to the balance of tart and sweet. This mix hits it perfectly. It is just tart enough and just sweet enough. The lime is refreshing but not bitter; the sweetness has softness and body (likely owing to use of agave as the sweetener instead of more simple sugar forms). Pour over ice, give it a good shake, yes, throw in that lime wheel, and enjoy. The result is delicious and the work is effortless.
Filthy Premium Olive Brine with Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives – Dirty martinis happen to be one of my favorite cocktails. And it should have dawned on me earlier that the key to a good dirty martini is the olive and olive juice. I’ve never had a bad dirty martini, although some were better than others. In one sense it’s hard to go wrong with a drink that relies on sating a basic salt craving. Why try to elevate something that is generally good enough? But elevate they did. Their recipe card lists 3:1 ratio of vodka to olive brine (I made mine with gin) and their Blue Cheese Olive as garnish. The brine has more complexity in its savory saltiness than the standard olive in a jar. The vinegar is bright but not acerbic. The brine ingredients already include vermouth, so this is another minimalist production. And let’s discuss the blue cheese stuffed olive: Blue cheese stuffed olives! Another winner.
Filthy Bloody Mary Mix with Pickle – The Bloody Mary is also another drink that is not terribly complicated to make at home, and there are mixes aplenty in the marketplace that provide terrific results with no effort at all. The bar on this one therefore, is set already, and the question is whether they’ve elevated the experience in this tried and true category. The Filthy version is delicious and would best any cocktail made fresh at your favorite haunt. It showcases all the accents of celery, horseradish, and tomatoes with just a flick of the wrist.
Filthy Black Cherry Syrup and Black Cherry – Apparently the classic cocktail they had in mind for this black cherry duo is an old fashioned. I will need to confess that the purist in me wants to clarify that the resulting cocktail is a twist on the classic old fashioned, since the official recipe provided for by the International Bartenders Association only includes cherry is as an optional garnish, alongside an orange slice or zest. But stepping down from my pedestal and pressing on to the offering on hand, I did toss in 3 parts bourbon to 1 part syrup with a dash of bitters over ice, and it makes for a delightful velvety cocktail. The black cherry has an intense flavor that is rich with stewed cherry fruit reminiscent of Port notes, providing the type of sweetness I prefer over adding sugar cubes (which is the sweetener in the classic recipe). This is one mix that I would caution against trying to use as an all-purpose mixer. There is also a recipe for a Black Cherry Margarita made by simply adding tequila — and in fact you could pretty much add this to any spirit of choice. A very versatile mix to have on hand, including adding to a seltzer with a lime garnish for a great non-alcoholic alternative.