The mid-July conversation went something like this: “We need to create a holiday gift.” I immediately shouted “Letterpress!” Followed by the design team, “And cocktails! The holidays make people want to drink.” For the 2016 ThoughtMatter holiday gift, our debut, we knew we wanted to set the bar high.
This summer ThoughtMatter had the chance to work with Glynwood: a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the field of community stewardship in the Hudson Valley. Our work gave us the chance to explore the region and experience local products. It’s an area brimming with makers, craftspeople, growers and producers. So when we landed on the idea of aromatic cocktail bitters, it made perfect sense that we would look for a collaborator there.
ThoughtMatter partnered with Field Apothecary to create a trio of bitters, each with a unique taste profile. The flavors, Herbal, Floral and Curry, were made by hand in small batches using ingredients sustainably and organically grown in the Hudson Valley.
These bitters are special and we wanted the packaging design to feel distinct and premium, but also reference the agrarian roots of the product. We researched bitters packaging and labels (made a lot of cocktails), dug into botanical books and reference material, and mocked up dozens of ways to box three bottles.
Each label carries common elements in layout, typography and embellishments. The design team hand illustrated herbs and created a fresh color palette to give each flavor distinction. The messaging reflects the care and craft that went into both the bitters and the package itself.
The final result is something that blends aspects of the studio’s branding and the design ethos of spirits and libations. Each set of bitters rests in a die cut tray inside a shallow box and is secured with a sleeve. Each kit also includes an accordion-folded recipe card with tasting notes.
Our 2016 holiday bitters project was a labor of love, not just for our studio, but also for the artisans and craftspeople that we collaborated with.
Dana and Michael Eudy of Field Apothecary and Herb Farm distilled the trio of bitters included in our package. They are situated on three acres in the village of Germantown, NY. All of their herbs are ecologically grown, harvested and processed by hand. They believe good food & drink are the best “medicine” and herbs used in daily practice can greatly help to enhance overall health and well-being.
Aldine is one of the few print shops still located in Manhattan. Their location on Varick Street is a lot like Santa’s workshop if you’re into this sort of thing. Their tradespeople are masters of their craft and expertly letterpressed our labels and box sleeves. Through our collaboration with Aldine we decided to use a combination of digital printing, letterpress and blind letterpress.
Lynnette created two amazing cocktail recipes (believe us, we’ve tried them) for each bitters flavor. A renowned mixologist and founder of Drinks at 6, she has worked as a rum ambassador for Diageo and is beverage director of Llama Inn and award-winning Rye House. Lynnette is also a mixologist for Nestlé Waters and Compass Group North America. When it comes to drinks, she knows what she’s doing!
We have big dreams, but big dreams cost money y’all. And never mind dreams, do you know what custom boxes cost? The entire studio joined in to hand glue and paper wrap 100+ boxes, meticulously apply hundreds of letterpress bottle labels, glue sleeves, and make the bitters kits in assembly line fashion. We aren’t always able to be so hands-on, but this is a testament to what can be accomplished with creative thinking, diligence and a little (sweatshop) labor.
For ThoughtMatter, 2016 has been a year of learning, experimenting and growing. We’ve solidified our mission of working with brands with purpose. Without knowing it, these thoughtfully considered bitters have become a true culmination of everything we stand for and everything we want to become. There is no better way to end the year.