July 18, 2011 at 3:04 PM
"This is the first in a series of interviews with those who are shaping Santa Fe into the next Mixology Mecca"
Santa Fe has quite a unique cocktail culture along with its love of food and wine. This is the first in a series of interviews with those who are shaping Santa Fe into the next Mixology Mecca.
Today, I spoke with Bill York, proprietor and creator of Bitter End Bitters cocktail enhancers.
Chris: What exactly are bitters?
Bill: Originally, they were used as tonics to cure everything from headaches to dyspepsia. Today, they’re used primarily as flavorings for drinks, cocktails in particular. The medicinal value has been put to the side in favor of helping people make more interesting drinks. I like to think of them as spices.
C: How did you first start making bitters?
B: I was bartending at a local place and thought I’d do a little research into the craft. I picked up Gaz Regan’s “Joy of Mixology” which included a recipe for orange bitters. I did a little research into what was on the market for other types of bitters and decided to try my hand at it. I came up with some stuff that I considered to be unique and I jumped on it.
C: How many different bitters do you make?
B: I currently have five flavors on the market. They’re all based on extremely flavorful types of cuisine from around the world: Mexican Mole, Thai, Jamaican Jerk, Moroccan, and Memphis Barbeque.
C: What made you choose to do a line of chile and spice bitters?
B: It was kind of a happy accident. Mole is a relatively prevalent flavor of bitters, so I tackled that one first. When I developed the recipe, I used a few different actual mole recipes; I cherry picked the ingredients I liked and took out the stuff I didn’t. I added a bit too much chile for what I was going for until I realized that the heat level gave it the aforementioned uniqueness.
C: Tell me about the ingredients that go into Bitter End.
B: Naturally, the ingredients vary by recipe and, to help my friends with various allergies, every single ingredient is listed on the bottle. All of the spices, herbs, botannicals, and chiles are 100% natural with no added color or weird processing. I use pure alcoholic extraction and physical filtering; the clarity is a result of the time I put into every bottle.
C: Is Bitter End your full time job?
B: Unfortunately, no. I have to maintain my day job as an IT geek until The Bitter End can pay me enough to make it my full-time gig.
C: If I were interested in buying one of Bitter End products, where would I find them?
B: There are a few retail shops around the country that I sell to directly: Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, New York, and Santa Fe (Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits and Santa Fe P.S.). If you’re outside of these areas, it’s probably easiest to get them from an online vendor, though. Kegworks.com and Cocktailkingdom.com both carry The Bitter End.
C: What bars in Santa Fe are carting the Bitter End line of chile based bitters?
B: Only one bar currently sells official drinks with our products: Secreto at the Hotel St. Francis. A couple of other bartenders are experimenting with our stuff and, naturally, I hope to see it behind their bars soon.
C: What’s next? Can you tell us any secrets?
B: I do have a couple of new flavors in development. Hopefully, I’ll get them out before the end of the year. This business is crazy right now so I’m not going to divulge the actual flavors just yet. Stay tuned!
For more information on Bitter End, check out their website here www.bitterendbitterscom