How often have you said, “I hope they don’t grow too big because they’ll forget about their customers” or “when you grow, remember the little people.” In many ways, companies do their best for the consumer when they are small. As companies grow it’s hard to “remember the little people.” This is why I’m so excited about small batch bitters. When you build with a focus on growth and production you remember your audience and it helps you create the best products on the market, even in small batches.
As the cocktail industry has grown so to have the small batch brands of bitters. A few of the most notable that I’ve had a chance to touch upon include Bittermens, Hella Bitters, Scrappy’s Bitters, Dr. Adam Elmegirab and even a few smaller focused batches like Regans’ Bitters No 6. No, the list doesn’t end there, from Bittercube to Bitters Old Men, where does it end? It doesn’t nor should it. The more the merrier because we, the customers, get to taste test so many more varieties and flavors of bitters; we are far from market saturation especially in this small batch category.
The concept of “small batch bitters” should not be confused with “ultra premium” or other labels you’ll see on alcohol bottles. The idea of a “small batch” is that the bitters are hand crafted in, quite literally, small batches and in many cases are hand labeled and cared for by humans over that of a large machine and huge distillery. Such bitter brands more than likely use off-the-shelf distilled neutral spirit in favor of large wholly owned distilleries. To focus on their bitter recipes and to allow for growth, they purchase high proof alcohol from third parties and utilized in the brands to draw out the flavor of their herbs and spices. They may utilize distilleries from local spirit brands to infuse and bottle their products to work within regulations. Small batch isn’t a marketing technique (yet), it’s a process.
Small batch bitters come in all shapes in sizes with bottles of azure blue or brown in a 4-ounce size to a 10-ounce capacity, but most often between 4-5 ounces. The flavors are virtually endless from Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters to their creative Xocolatl Mole bitters or the floral essence of Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters and Adam’s Teapot bitters, there is something for everyone. What drives them to succeed? The eager desire to expand the cocktail age and allow folks like myself to get creative in their designs. Bitters are the spice of life.
Look at the founding dates for many of these small batch companies and you’ll see that most have cropped up over the last ten years appearing out of thin air it seems. Striving for success and, in some cases like Hella Bitters, built from a community of new-aged investors on Kick Starter, these small batch bitter companies are here to serve the community with flavor designs to re-invent old cocktails and ignite cocktails lost to history.
Adam Elmegirab, for instance, has taken bitters long lost to history and re-created them so that mixologists can bring back those dusty tombs of cocktail recipe books and breath life back into old cocktails. It seems the enthusiasm of the small batch bitter brands are generating some very hot cocktails and allowing us younger folks that didn’t drink in the 1920’s to experience drinks like our grandfathers sipped.
So, where do we find all these creative bitters? For those that live in the big city, you’ll probably be able to experience them at bars, cocktail accessory stores and liquor stores. But the rest of us? Online is the first place to look. Of course, we have a vested interest since we carry many brands (with expansion in the near future) at AwesomeDrinks.com, but if you don’t like us, you can checkout the bitter brands websites to find online stores that carry their products.
With the world of the Internet you’ll find small batch bitters become more easily accessible allowing tons of great flavors to hit your palate with minimal effort. Once upon a time we had to find the best shops in town that would make their own custom blends, now we have access at our fingertips to bring them home from the comfort of our couch!