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If you need some cocktail creation inspiration or need to locate that perfect rose for a day in Dolores Park, Kelly is the guy you want to talk to at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits in Noe Valley. He’s a long-time team member that takes great pride in leading his customers to the perfect bottle, whether it’s a rare single malt scotch from the Lowlands or a sour beer for a Belgian beer tasting party. In this Q&A you’ll find out what makes Kelly tick and why he’s a Bitter Queen, not to mention, he’s sharing a cocktail recipe you’ll most certainly want to share with your closest friends and those you want to impress.
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What inspired you to go into the business of bitters?
Bitter Queens was born in a bar after about three martinis and a slight stroke of genius. A friend and I started talking about making a batch of homemade bitters for fun, and when thinking of a hypothetical brand name, “Bitter Queens” was uttered, and naturally we died of laughter since we were a couple of gay dudes setting out on a quest to make bitters. Beyond that, I’m obsessed with exotic spices and botanicals, and love that I get to make a line of products with them!
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For people who are unfamiliar with bitters, can you explain what exactly bitters are and how they are used?
Bitters is an aromatic flavoring agent made from a maceration of herbs, roots, and spices that are steeped in high proof alcohol. The maceration is left to rest for a while in order to extract as much flavor from the botanicals as possible. A kiss of sugar and some water may be added, but the process is pretty simple. Unlike Campari, Aperol, and other “potable” bitters that you might sip, cocktail bitters are a highly concentrated extract and thus a few dashes are typically used.
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Why do you think cocktails benefit from the use of bitters?
When mixing drinks, bitters are akin to a chef’s spice rack. They complement the spirits of the cocktail and enliven the drink with added aroma, flavor, and complexity. They’re kind of like perfume for cocktails. Bitters can help transform a good drink into a great drink.
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Where can someone find Bitter Queens?
We’ve just started to hit the market and can be found at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits, as well as some bars and restaurants around San Francisco like Oddjob, Jones, Blackbird, and Epic Roasthouse. We produce several different flavors including earthy eucalyptus, woodsy sarsaparilla, bright Chinese 5-spice, savory tobacco, and exotic Thai bitters.
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Golden Gate Gimlet Cocktail Recipe
1.5 oz. Gin
.75 oz. Lime Juice
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
4 dashes Bitter Queens Eucalyptus Bitters
Shake over ice
Strain into a martini glass
Garnish with spanked rosemary sprig