No home bar is complete without a bottle of bitters. Usually that means Angostura , the classic aromatic blend that hails from a 1824 recipe. But along with Angostura, bar enthusiasts should also keep more boutique-style bitters on hand. Those from Dram Apothecary  come to mind, as do those from Boulder-based Cocktailpunk . "Angostura is what it is," says Cocktailpunk creator Raymond Snead. "It's part of the culture but you don't need to be constrained by it."
After two years of methodically tinkering and then waiting six-plus months for approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Snead recently released three bitters—orange, aromatic, and cherry—into the local market. The trio offers what he considers building block flavors; and many forward-thinking local bartenders, including Allison Anderson from Frasca Food & Wine  and Bryan Dayton from Oak at Fourteenth  and Acorn , are already mixing Cockailpunk into their drinks. "These bitters are for cocktails that haven't been invented yet," Snead says.
Snead is currently working on adding three more bitters to the collection: one with hints of anise and absinthe ("You could fake a sazerac if you wanted to," Snead says); one that verges on amaro territory; and one with smoky orange notes. As for when they'll release, Snead is planning on early 2014.
In the meantime, pick up a bottle at the Proper Pour  at the Source  and experiment with a few of these  recipes. (Or put a ribbon around it and give it as a hostess gift or a stocking stuffer.)