“Our cocktail list is pretty much built on our infusions,” explains Miller. “We infuse at least six different vodkas, four tequilas, and two gins. That was worrisome to us when we started, because we were getting these products and putting the time into them to use these infusions, but we are doing well.”
Over at Terra Mae, they boast of having eight different types of bitters that they make in-house and seven different tinctures. “The reality of bitters is that it's the ultimate finishing oil, that final little individual touch,” Stamper says. “It can literally take an average drink and add an element of complexity that will turn into a high-end cocktail.”
“I personally lean way towards the bitter side of things. I love it,” Kelton enthuses. “The bitters are playing a huge part in the way everyone's palates have developed, steering a little bit farther away from the sweeter spirits and sweeter cocktails and adding a bit more depth to them.”
Baldwin agrees, and adds another element: locality. “The resurgence of fresh ingredients, keeping it local, helps us out a great deal in selling these new cocktail creations.”
For now, all four agree that cocktail culture is still in its infancy here in Chattanooga. Each, for their own part and in their own way, feels they are still in the process of educating people about what cocktails are and can be, but all believe the future is very bright—and bigger and bolder things are still to come.
“The best part of cocktail culture is that it doesn't have to be anything,” says Stamper. “It can be whatever you want it to be.”