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A Sweet Tale of Bitters

Meet the cocktail-loving couple behind Warn Reserve

Lex Nelson

Bitters—concentrated flavor infusions similar to kitchen staples like vanilla extract—are the unsung heroes of craft cocktails, adding sophisticated notes that can be a difficult to single out. For Adrienne and Danny Warn, parsing those flavors began as hobby but soon became a business.

“We both have a thing for craft cocktails,” Adrienne told CCN at Chow Public Market, just a few yards from the commercial kitchen where she and her husband make their products. “We’ve traveled around a little bit and gone to different bars that make craft cocktails, for years now we’ve done that. We were interested in how they were made, and so we started making them at home for a long time and it just evolved from that.”

Adrienne is the creative force behind Warn Reserve’s artisanal bitters, which include aromatic, orange, coffee-pecan, and cherry flavors made with local fruit from Waterwheel Gardens, coffee from Dawson Taylor, and water from Rocks Water. She and Danny started toying with the concept of making their own bitters in 2017, and eventually took their homemade tinctures to local bars for taste tests.

“They all gave us really positive feedback, so we thought maybe we should take this a step further and see if we can make something of it,” Adrienne said.

It wasn’t until mid-2018 that the business really took off. Before they could market their product, the Warns had to wait almost a year for an opening in a food safety class, then earn approval from the Tax and Trade Bureau, FDA, and Central District Health Department. When they moved their business from Caldwell to Boise to be nearer to Chow’s kitchen, which they pay a monthly fee to share, they had to wade through another round of inspections. Finally, they started selling, and now offer their products at more than 20 local bars, JD’s Bodega, Benchmark Bodega, and the Eagle, Meridian and Boise farmers markets.

“These farmers markets have been amazing,” Danny said, noting that the combination of talking directly to customers and handing out free samples has led to such good sales that Warn Reserve is running low on product. Walking through the commercial kitchen, where he and his wife have been working hard to catch up, Danny pointed out valuable features like the oven, which he uses to dehydrate orange peel; the stove where he makes simple syrup; and the closet (which Warn will soon outgrow) where tanks of bitters are stored for the month-long steeping process.

“We need bigger and bigger tanks, more tanks and faster filtration,” Danny said.

With four flavors of shrubs on the horizon for next year and more additions to follow, Warn Reserve is an ambitious company to watch.

Photos credit: Adrienne and Danny Warn