Royal Rose vital stats:
What: organic, small batch, handmade simple syrups
Enjoyed: … in culinary & craft cocktails, cuisine
When writing The Best Craft Cocktails I scoured So Cal for small batch organic bar products and spirits- at Pigment in North Park here in San Diego I discovered Royal Rose. A sucker for gorg packaging design, I grabbed one, two, three bottles and went off to experiment. Let’s just say they ended up being printed as a staple in several of our recipes and appear in the resources section of the book! I invited Emily & Forrest to chat about why small batch, cool flavor profiles & their new muse, nature-esque Maine.
Garden Eats: First, thanks for creating an organic bar and kitchen product. Second, thanks for producing small batches. Some people hear “small batch” and consider it trendy radar, but can you please explain why small batch makes perfect sense.
Royal Rose: To really understand why small batch is better, you have to understand what “big batch” means. Everything we do is the opposite of a large batch philosophy. Big syrup manufacturers use gigantic equipment and they literally dump “flavor” from a big drum into a vat. Everything that goes into that vat comes out into the bottle. What we do is totally different. We use whole ingredients, and really use our process to get the most flavor out of it. For example, in our Cardamom Clove Syrup, we use whole, organic and fair trade cloves. We grind them, toast them, add them to our 40 gallon steam kettle at just the right moment. We bottle- one bottle at a time. We are seeing every step of the process. It’s hard and time-consuming, but you can’t get better quality control than that. Also, we are proud to say that we have never used added preservatives or stabilizers.
GE: Brooklyn! Beaming with spirits & food creatives like yourselves- from what we know, there exists a very cool cross-collaborative vibe. How do you guys fit into that? And now, Maine!
RR: We started out in Brooklyn in 2010 and it was so exciting. There was a lot going on in terms of food. Forrest and I lived in Bed-Stuy, then Park Slope, and there was just so much good food! We were also younger then and drank a lot more- Forrest was making cocktails all the time. It’s amazing that the first stores that carried us are basically the most awesome shops in New York- Brooklyn Larder, Stinky, Blue Apron… Now we are in Brunswick, Maine and there is also an incredible food scene here. Piccolo & Blue Rooster, Tao, …we are really inspired by all the great things happening around us. Plus of course, Maine is so beautiful.
GE: For The Best Craft Cocktails, my co-author Jeremy and I had fun experimenting with your syrups. We’re excited to try the jasmine and the fenugreek. I prescribe fenugreek in private practice, what’s the inspiration story behind this syrup?
RR: Fenugreek is just good. It’s sort of unknown by the average person, which is interesting. And it tastes kind of like caramel. Just rich and nutty and good. It’s a bourbon-lover’s perfect syrup.
GE: Beyond the bar, what’s the most creative recipe you’ve been surprised to see your syrups featured in?
RR: Our graphic designer just emailed us a recipe and photos of these little strawberry rhubarb pastelitos that she made, and she used our Lavender Lemon Syrup as a glaze on the tops of them. It looks so good, I can’t wait to try it.
GE: Yum, we want the recipe too! So, what’s up next? New flavors? Collabs? Projects?
RR: We are really excited to launch a little sampler box of four syrups in the 2 oz. size. They are cute and a perfect size for experimenting. Forrest and I are also doing a natural, unflavored syrup that will be available in the next few weeks. We use a small grain organic demerara sugar in all of our syrups, so this will be perfect for all those classic cocktails and new creations.
GE: How has moving from Brooklyn to Maine influenced the ingredients we work with?
RR: Maine has an incredible history of agriculture, and there are a lot of small organic farms here. Our organic certifying agency is MOFGA- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Every year there is a big 3-day event called the Common Ground Country Fair, which celebrates the rural and agricultural history and businesses of Maine. There is livestock, food, farmers… Forrest and I are really excited to work with some local organic farms this summer to bring back our Blueberry Syrup (which we originally did only one tiny batch of, back in 2011).
Forrest and I are so happy to use some Maine blueberries, which are delicious!
GE: Sounds awesome, can’t wait to try the fenugreek and my wee one says she’s having strawberry fennel vanilla icecream for dessert later! Our list of friends in Maine has grown enough to justify a “field trip” for sure. Thanks for stopping by today!
Photos courtesy of Royal Rose.