Good news for bitters lovers: Bittermens, a small-batch bitters company based out of Boston, has just moved to New York, opening a production facility in Red Hook. “We’d gotten to a point where we were exceeding the space we had. We got our start in New York City and it is really a market we have to be in. We could have hired brand managers or we could come down and make it happen for ourselves,” explained Avery Glasser, who co-owns the company with his wife, Janet.
The Glassers started making bitters in 2007. The company’s first bottles went on sale in 2009 through a partnership with the Bitter Truth of Germany. That relationship ended in July 2010, however, with the Glassers taking back production themselves. Since then, they have been producing bitters at a commercial kitchen up in Somerville, Massachusetts, which they leased from Taza Chocolate. It was there that they made the popular Xocolatl Mole Bitters, Hopped Grapefruit Bitters, Elemakule Tiki Bitters, and Boston Bittahs.
So what does this new space mean? Well, for one, new bitters. The company is launching Burlesque Bitters, available just in time for Valentine’s Day. The new batch combines hibiscus, açai berry, and long pepper for a cocktail flavoring extract that is sweet, spicy, and tart.
“The genesis for the Burlesque Bitters came out of left field. We were doing the bottling in Boston and we had a bunch of people over and for some reason someone mentioned the word ‘burlesque.’ And we thought burlesque bitters would be cool. I started thinking in colors — red, velvety curtains and tartan. And from that we went to basic flavors. I hadn’t had bitters with a floral, bitter, berry flavor so then we started looking at ingredients that would work: açai, rose hips, hibiscus. We started playing with those ideas and it came together quite beautifully. Between our first trial batch and our final batch we only made one adjustment,” said Avery.
How to use the new bitters? The better question is how not to use the bitters. “The first thing we had it in was a Negroni. It really plays well with vermouth, Campari, and amaros. It works well with outlier spirits, like Pisco or Cognac. It’s really becoming one of those bitters that’s like our mole bitters — it’s universal,” said Avery.
The bitters are currently available at the Meadow, Spuyten Duyvil, and Court Street Grocers, though the Glassers note that it’s still difficult because their product cannot be carried in liquor stores since it’s classified as a food product. But for now, they’re focusing on ramping up production in their new space — a large temperature-controlled room with a large sink for washing bottles. Maybe next in line we’ll be seeing a Brooklyn Bitters. One can only hope so.