When Max Messier isn't tending bar at Kingfish, you'll find him in his own kitchen, toiling over pots of sugar and herbs to craft his new line of syrups Cocktail & Sons, all natural small-batch products designed to make classic cocktails easier. Messier developed the syrups with the home bar enthusiast in mind and with the input of some of the nation's top craft cocktail bartenders from the likes of NYC's Seamstress to The French 75 bar, along with his wife and fellow bartender Laura Myerscough (most recently of Maurepas Foods).
With plans to go national around April 1, plus a label redesign and move into an commercial kitchen on the horizon, Messier talks launching Cocktail & Sons and the future of his syrups.
Catch Cocktail & Sons on April 8 at Pearl Wine Co., where Messier will lead a cocktail class—local booze/wine pro Tim McNally will also broadcast his radio show from the event— or at this summer's hottest booze event Tales of the Cocktail, where Cocktail & Sons will be a preferred vendor (and have a tasting room). Check his upcoming schedule right here.
What's the inspiration behind your syrups?
I realized with the syrup market, nothing really builds the classic cocktails. Being in San Francisco and New York, you'd be in kind of a bubble. A person would walk in a bar and be like, can I have a Last Word? Down here that language doesn't really exist, so I just wanted to start with the basic cocktails. An Old Fashioned, a Tom Collins, Margaritas and Juleps/Daiquiris.
This is literally a farm-to-glass product. I actually source all the sugars from [Three Brother's Farm] in Youngsville. The farmer actually came to house this morning to drop me off more sugar. So, literally, I get the sugar from him and make it into a syrup.
i'm using primarily organic materials.
How did you get Cocktail & Sons off the ground?
We did a Kickstarter and got ten grand. We launched in January, and we're already in ten stores. Eight stores in New Orleans (Three Rouses locations, and Pearl Wine Co., Dorignac's, Keife & Co., Stein's, Acquistapace's) and two in Baton Rouge. We're also on Good Eggs, and at nolacajun.com.
The reason I started the company is because I had all these recipes I'd been working on for years as a bartender and there's a Louisiana 'cottage law' which allows you to make stuff at home, and then move into an industrial kitchen, which we're doing in a few weeks.
Can you find the Cocktail & Sons syrups at any local bars?
We're on cocktail menus at three places in the Quarter. Doris Metropolitan has it in a Sazerac. Chris Hannah has it in an Old Fashioned at French 75. St. Lawrence just picked up the Oleo Saccharum for a new cocktail menu they're launching, and French 75 is doing a brunch menu with it as well.
Max Messier Talks Cocktail & Sons' Syrups
Spiced Demarara: What you would use to build an Old Fashioned and Sazerac. "I wanted to incorporate a little spicy peppercorn for ryes, cinnamon and allspice for bourbon, and coriander and birch leaves for scotches. Rum also plays around with elements like this, and I have a Oaxacan Old Fashioned I make with mezcal and it is awesome... I even had somebody buy a bottle of this to put on their waffles."
Oleo Saccharum: "This is the base for punches. I'm a huge advocate for home bars. Invite people over, make a punch, make a pitcher or Collins, this is the device for you to do it. It also makes a great shandy with Highlife and lemon juice on ice. It's awesome."
Honey Suckle & Peppercorn: For margaritas and sours... "I love tequilas, and I wanted to emphasize the black pepper notes you get from them... It's ironic, because I almost built sort of this southern sweet tea with the honeysuckle notes coming through."
Mint & Lemon Verbena: Perfect for juleps, daiquiris or a mojito. "We used two types of dried mint with verbena, and a little wormwood to finish...You get all sorts of nice aromatics here."
The Oleo Saccharum, Honey Suckle & Peppercorn, and Mint & Lemon Verbena also make for great sodas.
How did you come about developing the recipes?
I developed the original based recipes, and my wife is the one who was like, what the hell are you doing? Or yeah, this will work. I actually had bartenders from different parts of the country try this stuff and give me different advice on I want more of this or I want more of this. I found that when people try real stuff, as opposed to high fructose artificial flavorings, they taste that real flavor... and even their bodies react differently, like this tastes really good, unlike a chemical finish.
What's in store for the future?
We're working on getting in the farmer's market sometime soon. Going national on April 1... We probably will launch seasonal product after that, including a strawberry shrub, apples in fall, citrus at winter time. A king cake syrup. We'll also be a preferred vendor at Tales of the Cocktail.