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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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