In 2010, we ended our relationship with The Bitter Truth and relaunched Bittermens. All of our products are proudly 100% made in America. You can identify the real Bittermens products by our 5 ounce cobalt blue droppers with an eyedropper top and washable plastic labels.
Any bottles of the co-branded Bittermens/The Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole and Grapefruit Bitters that you may still find at bars and retailers were produced before June 2010.
There has been some general confusion out there about what happened to Bittermens after we announced our partnership with The Bitter Truth in 2009. So, let’s take a minute to walk you through a simple story that’s often been misunderstood.
In 2008, Bittermens, Inc. received approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to produce our bitters as a non-potable flavoring or extract. We received this classification because our product is only intended to be used by the drop or dash. This is the same classification that most other cocktail bitters hold.
As a non-potable flavoring or extract, our bitters could be sold like food products: available in grocery or specialty stores and shippable via the internet. Our bitters were considered to be non-beverage alcohol, just like vanilla extract.
In February 2009, Bittermens and The Bitter Truth entered into a licensing agreement. The Bitter Truth would produce the bitters in Europe and sell the Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters and Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters on our behalf, and in exchange we would collect a royalty. When The Bitter Truth decided to enter the market in the United States, they classified their entire product line as potable, or beverage alcohol.
We want to stress that this was a logical and sensible decision for them to make. The Bitter Truth produces cocktail bitters as well as liqueurs and spirits. By classifying their entire line as potable, all of their products could be imported together and sold through the same distribution network. In addition, certain states do not permit liquor stores to sell non-potable products such as soda, juice, candy or non-potable cocktail bitters. This problem is unique to the United States.
The worldwide launch was a success thanks to the hard work performed by The Bitter Truth, but the potable status created challenges as product started to launch in the United States.
The feedback that we received after the 2009 launch was mixed. Though people were happy that our bitters were finally available, many consumers and bars could no longer purchase them. In addition, state prohibition on shipping liquor across state lines or directly to consumers exacerbated the frustration. We honestly didn’t know what to do.
We were at an impasse, and there was no obvious answer. From every perspective, it would be much simpler to stay together. Separating our interests means that we would sacrifice the great market footprint that they have built everywhere in the world. We wouldn’t be on as many store shelves, and our ability to produce would be significantly less.
The problem was our conscience. We didn’t start Bittermens with the idea of being at grocery stores and liquor shops around the world. We started Bittermens so we could make a new kind of bitters, and get them directly into the hands of the enthusiasts and bartenders who could use them to make new cocktails that couldn’t be made without them. Bittermens was meant to be a thank you to an industry that had given us so much joy over the years. Staying together meant sacrificing that vision. In the end, it was a sacrifice we couldn’t live with. As of July 2010, the only real Bittermens bitters are the ones in our classic cobalt blue bottle with the eyedropper tops!