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Photo: Courtesy of Bungalow 23 - Bungalow 23 started in Winter Park as an experiment to make handmade cocktails easier, growing in popularity on Park Avenue and beyond.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 3 years ago

Winter Park company offers hand-crafted cocktails in a bottle

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Mixed drinks made easy
by: Allison Olcsvay

Winter Park based Bungalow 23 and their unique cocktail mixers are making a name for themselves in Orlando’s growing foodie culture.

Barely in business for a year, the newcomers have already made it onto the cocktail menu at the Hyatt Regency Orlando’s Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse and, if all goes well, hope to have their products on the menu at hotels on Disney property soon.

Cocktails have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in recent years with many local bars offering “craft cocktails,” mixed by bartenders who have spent a lot of time to rediscover the roots of their craft.

Thanks in part to popular television shows like “Mad Men,” going out for cocktails or offering them to guests is once again hip.

The problem for would-be home bartenders, said Bungalow 23 owners Rick Ferrone and Chris Henderson, is that good cocktails can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to make at home.

“It takes a long time to do it yourself at home and getting it right can require a lot of fresh ingredients people just don’t have on hand,” explained Henderson.

To solve that problem, Ferrone and Henderson set about creating a line of high-quality mixers that bartenders both at home and commercially could easily add to their favorite alcohol to create cocktails that rivaled the “craft” experience without all the crafting.

“We set out with one guiding principal in mind and that was authenticity. There are no short cuts, nothing artificial, no fillers in our products. Everything is natural and carefully selected,” Ferrone said.

Bungalow 23 currently offers three unique flavor profiles in their line: Pear Ginger Martini, Blueberry Lemon Drop and Prickly Pear Margarita.

Blueberry Lemon Drop is sweet, but not overly so, having been carefully balanced by hints of lavender and lemongrass which give it the rich complexity of a good Merlot.

According to Ferrone, it pairs well with a good steak or duck dish.

With a strong lime and orange citrus base paired with fresh berry flavors, Prickly Pear Margarita is both a tart and refreshing take on the classic margarita. Papa Hemingway would be proud.

Declared the most versatile of the trio by Ferrone, Pear Ginger Martini’s friendly mix of fresh pear and crisp ginger play well with a variety of alcoholic partners including rum, bourbon or vodka.

“Like all of our mixers, we hope the first thing people taste is the freshness,” Ferrone said.

The pair worked hard to create recipes that were both unique and have broad appeal.

“Being scientific, technical folks, we formed a test group and went around every Friday delivering samples and collecting the completed evaluation forms on Monday, until we had a product that consistently beat out the competition,” Henderson said.

“Once we had that in place, we perfected our recipes until we had three that stood out as popular across the board, then we knew we had something good,” he said.

Ferrone and Henderson didn’t start out as foodies; with their diverse backgrounds, they at first seem like unlikely candidates for success. By applying all they have learned in previous business ventures – Ferrone as a business strategist and Henderson in the technical world as project manager for a defense contract company – the duo came up with something they thought people wanted and would make life more enjoyable, they said.

“Our products let everyone be a mixologist,” Henderson said. “They certainly make entertaining easier, especially with the holidays coming up.”

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