Alcohol bitters are an unusual thing that can have an incredible impact on your favorite cocktails. So much impact, in fact, that the difference between that over-the-top, mind blowing, experiential cocktail and an "eh, it was alright" cocktail can boil down to the use of the bitters.
But, let's take a step back for a minute and explain what bitters are. Bitters are an infusion of a neutral spirit and any combination of spices, flowers, or other natural aromatics. These are steeped together for weeks to bring out the flavor and aroma of the added items. The combinations and outcomes are practically endless and adding bitters to your favorite cocktail or soda can significantly change the experience with just a few drops of the concentrated liquid.
Bitters Club was born out of a desire to bring the experience of that over-the-top, $15 cocktail to the home bar without sacrificing quality. For Marcel van Eeden, owner of Bitters Club, it was a personal journey to create something better than what was already on the market. If he was going to create a cocktail for himself, he wanted it to be top line. His passion for quality benefits customers who now have the option to create next level cocktails at home.
It’s very difficult for, "...the Average Joe, who wants to make a good cocktail at home, who pays a lot of money for a cocktail at the bar and has a good experience, but then goes back to drinking a Whiskey and Coke. I'm here to help you make better cocktails." van Eeden says.
The goal of Bitters Club is not only to create better bitters for the market, but to bridge the gap between what you get at the bar and what you can do at home. This is evident by surveying the resources that Bitters Club offers its customers. From DIY spice kits for your own at-home bitters creations, to cocktail mixers, to recipes for those transcendent cocktails on their website, they not only want to sell you high quality products, but to make sure you know what to do with them when you get home.
In talking with van Eeden in his small storefront on the main drag in New Franklin, Missouri, you get the impression that his passion began with a personal desire to make better cocktails for himself, but has grown into a passion for teaching others how to do the same for themselves. Van Eeden and his wife, Megan, are the only employees at Bitters Club. They design the website and labels, keep up with social media, create and bottle the bitters, cocktail mixers, and spice mixes, sell locally at the Columbia Farmers Market every Saturday, and continually meet with local bar managers to brainstorm and market their products and ideas. It's the local community that has supported them through the start-up phase of the company and they know it’s the local economy that will sustain them into expanded growth.
Van Eeden pays that support back by using locally made alcohols when available, including Les Bourgeois Vineyards Riverboat Red and Rocheport Rum in his floral bitters. He is also experimenting with herbal bitters that will include local sprouts and mushrooms.
Bitters Club hopes to expand their sales throughout the state and has recently begun selling aromatic bitters on Amazon. Locally, you can find van Eeden slinging his goods at the Columbia Farmers Market and find Bitters Club products in select grocery stores. And, most importantly, when you are out at your favorite restaurant establishment, tell your bar manager that you want that cocktail with Bitters Club in it!