Owl and Whale were eighteenth-century slang terms used in taverns and inns around America.

The Owl was the wise one, the late night drinker who would close the bar with the proprietors.

The Whale was the heavy drinker, the big tipper; the big spender. He was the one who would often buy a round for the entire bar.

Owl & Whale have adopted these symbols as totems for our work, being nocturnal ourselves and endowed with the wisdom of our years, while maintaining strong appetites for new flavors and new experiences on both sides of the bar.


Although ancient Egyptians mixed wine with botanicals for medicinal purposes, and Europeans made stomach cures using herbal infusions during the Renaissance, it wasn’t until Colonial American times that the mixtures we understand as modern bitters emerged.

These bitters often were used as antimalarial treatments, as they were made from bark containing quinine. The bitters were added to forfeited wine, and eventually to harder spirits.

The term cocktail can be traced to 1806 where it was defined as a combination of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.

Bitters currently are made using a wide variety of flavors from all over the planet. We believe our bitters to be unique in flavor profiles and rich in formulation. We process them at the highest level of maceration, extracting the maximum amount of flavor in every drop.


The word shrub stems from the same source as the word sherbet. The Persian word shariba means to drink; from this came the word sharba, a type of drink. This evolved into the word sharbat, a fruit-juice drink which, when sugar is added, was referred to as a shurb. Or as we know it today, a shrub.

Modern shrubs are drinking vinegars; they are composed of fruit cooked with sugar and vinegar, and because of their acidity, they have a long shelf life. It’s why we have shrubs in the first place; in the days before refrigeration, which were most of them, humans worked very hard for their food. Each calorie was precious, it simply wasn’t practical to let food rot. There were few compost bins in colonial America!

Vinegar has a long culinary history. Thousands of years ago water generally was undrinkable due to things like harmful bacteria, so laborers were served old wine diluted with water, old enough to have turned into vinegar, and which must have worked wonders on their immune system.

Vinegar is good for you! It has lots of polyphenols and biolflavinoids which are antioxidants that help fight off harmful free-radicals. Vinegar also is full of pepsin and acetic acid which helps the body absorb crucial minerals.

Acid Phosphates

These are weak, food-grade acids used to acidify drinks without adding highly perishable citrus juices. Our phosphates provide tartness unavailable outside of fresh squeezed juices. They are a fun and easy way of adding acidity to a cocktail or mocktail without adding a cloudy citrus juice.

Phosphate sodas became very popular in the late nineteenth century. These fruity beverages had an acidic flavor pop, were made at soda fountains around the country and remained popular into the mid-twentieth century. Acid Phosphate is still used today in many modern sodas and colas to provide their acidic flavors.

Like our bitters, our phosphates have a long shelf life.