Vena's Fizz House x SKORDO
Team SKORDO first learned about Vena's Fizz House in 2016. We were busy opening our Old Port store and couldn't help but notice the vibrant cocktail and mocktail shop down the street. The combination of vintage glassware, impeccably built ingredients and delicious drinks had us making up any excuse to visit Vena's.
Today, the Vena's Fizz House team is focused on their line of sippers, bitters, infused sugar cubes, and a Maine inspired syrup. You can find their products in specialty food shops or purchase directly on their website. They are also preparing to open a new retail and bar location in Portland with enough space to host events and classes.
Steve Corman, one of Vena's founders, was kind enough to answer our questions and passed along a couple home bar tips and tricks. Enjoy!
How did Vena’s Fizz House come to be?
When life gives you lemons... we woke one morning and met necessity head-on after I lost my job to budget cuts after nineteen years of teaching. A strong constitution sprinkled with a bit of imagination, an entrepreneurial heart, and a long love-affair with seltzer (fizz); though we didn't know it at the time, we had struck liquid gold. We opened our venue that included a bar and mixology retail shop in Portland, Maine’s Old Port in July of 2013.
Both of us, having a fondness for flavors and beverage making (with or without spirits), created a line of products for the home bartender and beverage enthusiast that includes a line of botanical bitters, Spirit Sipper & Nipper Infusions - jars filled with fruits, herbs & spices and a favorite spirit is added to create a 'bar in a jar’, perfect for picnics, camping, happy hour, or any occasion that calls for a special cocktail. Also included in the collection are Bitter Infused Sugar Cubes that pair beautifully with that Old Fashioned, champagne, tea, coffee or hot toddies and a Maine Pine Syrup. All products are made with clean, all-natural ingredients and locally sourced when available.
Steve, we understand you are known as ‘The Bitterest Man in the World’. Why are bitters a key ingredient for home bars?
Bitters are a botanical extract that are primarily used in beverage making. We like to call them - the spice rack for beverages. They are created by infusing bark, herbs, fruit peels, flowers, roots, and other ingredients in alcohol, and there are a variety of flavors that you can create.
Bitters are a versatile ingredient that should be on the shelf of every beverage enthusiast. But why should you use them in your cocktails or mocktails? Here's why:
Bitters add complexity to your drinks. Adding bitters to a beverage doesn't necessarily mean it will have a strong bitter flavor. Instead, bitters help accentuate other tastes, like sourness or sweetness, and give your drink more depth of flavors.
Our customers often ask about alcohol infusions. How do you pair spirits with herbs + spices?
Certain spirits pair well with certain flavors and we love to experiment and play around with various combinations. We like to think seasonally, so if it’s spring and the lilacs are blooming anything floral is going to be an OMG! with gin. When the holidays roll around we focus on the darker spirits like bourbon and pair it with cherry for the perfect Christmas Old Fashioned or vanilla and orange for sitting by the fire.
Your website is packed with recipes. How does a drink idea earn its place on the menu?
That is definitely a team approach. Most of our staff are as passionate about flavors as we are. There’s much taste testing to determine what lands on the menu!
Do you have a favorite ingredient or drink? What makes it special?
Wormwood is one of my favorite ingredients. It’s an herbal bittering agent that is found in some gins, and most absinthes. It has health benefits known to aid with digestion. When used in a bitter, the flavor and complexity gives a beautiful depth to cocktails and mocktails.
What tools do you recommend for an adventurous home mixologist?
Basic, essential tools of the trade include:● Shaker
● Mixing glass
● Bar spoons
● Small knife
We’re excited to see your space at 867 Congress Street! How will it differ from Vena’s previous location?
We are excited as well and it will hold all the charm, nostalgia and commitment to well crafted beverages we are known for. The main difference it will hold is the new space lends itself to events given the expanded increase in square footage from our former venue. Given the high ceilings and open concept of its original use as a former church, a greater part of our focus will be hosting events - both private and our own and mixology classes.
Eager to learn more about the creative beverages and ingredients at Vena's Fizz House? Follow this link.