We chatted with Amy Nazer, founder of Woodward Extract Co., which produces and bottles small-batch flavor extracts at Brooklyn FoodWorks in the former Pfizer plant in South Williamsburg using a cold extraction process and organic, fair trade ingredients. You can find their Bird’s Eye Chili extract in this month’s Thank Goodness for Bourbon Box!
S&S: What did you do before founding Woodward Extract Co.?
AN: I moved to New York in 2005 for college, and after graduation I had several jobs at nonprofit and legal organizations. I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember, with my mother when I was a child and on my own as I got older. After college, I started taking on bigger and bigger projects, like made-to-order holiday cookies for coworkers, wedding cakes for friends, and custom cocktail syrups.
S&S: And what inspired you to get into the extract business?
AN: I started making my own extracts because I wasn’t satisfied with the ones I found in stores. So many of them are made with artificial ingredients and lack depth of flavor. A good friend saw how passionate and excited I was about the process and results, and she encouraged me to bring them to the market. I started production in the fall of 2015 and began promoting and selling my products online and at a number of holiday markets that season.
S&S: Since then, what would you say are the three most important things you’ve learned from running your business?
AN: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and listen when others are giving you advice. Since I was in the earliest stages of launching my business, everyone I’ve spoken to has given me something to think about, even if I didn’t end up taking their advice.
Remind yourself of the successes you’ve already had, even if they seem small or inconsequential. If you only focus on regrets and endless to-do lists, you’ll lose sight of how far you’ve come and what you’ve already accomplished.
And finally, when you’re grinding Bird’s Eye chilies, wear the best particle respirator mask you can find.
S&S: Words to live by! And on a lighter note, what’s the most fun part of the extract-making process?
AN: I love developing new flavors and finding new uses for the extracts we currently produce. But although I have plenty of fun in the kitchen playing mad scientist—and channeling my chemist father—I’m even happier at pop-up markets and sampling events, meeting new people who are passionate about food and drinks and always willing to share their ideas and opinions.
S&S: What’s your favorite flavor combination?
AN: I never seem to get tired of chili and chocolate. Our Bird’s Eye Chili extract is fantastic in ganache, hot chocolate, and brownies—my favorite recipe is Bon Appetit’s cocoa brownies, to which I add a teaspoon each of extract and ground cinnamon.
S&S: What spirits do some of your extracts go best with?
AN: Our Bourbon + Vanilla extract is made with real Kentucky bourbon for a warm, round flavor and it pairs beautifully with whiskey, as does our new Cardamom extract. Our new Lavender extract is great with gin and vodka, and our Bird’s Eye Chili extract is the most versatile. I’ve enjoyed it in cocktails with gin, rum, tequila, mezcal, and even scotch.
S&S: And it’s great, of course, in our Fire in Your Belly bourbon cocktail! What are some of your other favorite drinks?
AN: I developed a cocktail for our Bird’s Eye Chili extract I call the Killer Bee. It’s based on the prohibition-era Bee’s Knees cocktail, and it’s made with gin, honey syrup, and lemon. But not everything I drink has to have our products in it—I love a well-made Old Fashioned or Sazerac.
S&S: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
AN: For the holidays, we’re launching two new products: a mulled wine kit and a cinnamon hot chocolate mix. The mulled wine kit includes a one-ounce bottle of our Bourbon + Vanilla extract and sachets of whole, organic spices to mull two bottles of wine or half a gallon of apple cider. Our hot chocolate mix is made with organic sugar, cocoa, and chocolate and comes with a one-ounce bottle of Bird’s Eye Chili extract. Both items will be available on our website and at a number of holiday markets this season, including the Smorgasburg Winter Market, Renegade Craft Fair, and the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar.
S&S: Sounds delicious! Good luck, and we’ll see you at the Brooklyn markets!