Mixing It Up with AZ Bitters Lab
Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys aren't bitter people. They're bitters people, ardent food lovers whose interests have broadened from food-and-wine pairings to food-and-cocktail pairings to the distinctive components, such as bitters, that go into both classic and craft cocktails.
Katie Johnson Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys working on a new concoction in the AZ Bitters Lab.
Although the Buitenhuys hold down 9-to-5 managerial jobs, they spend most of their free time playing mad scientist in their kitchen, dubbed AZ Bitters Lab.
There, they have become the first in the Valley to actually make their own bitters -- a potent flavoring agent containing a neutral spirit and some combination of roots, herbs, fruits and spices. (If you've ever drunk a Manhattan, an Old-Fashioned or a Sazerac, you've tasted bitters.)
Katie Johnson Bitters infusing with fruit.
Just like the local bartenders who mentor them do.
Did I say "bartenders"? Excuse me, "mixologists," which is to say rock stars, which is to say chef-like people who consider flavor principles, incorporate farm-fresh ingredients, and buy or make their own artisanal (i.e., small batch) cocktail ingredients.
Commercial Angostura (the bitters label behind every bar for the last zillion years) has become a bit passé in the Brave New Cocktail World. Artisanal bitters, created in culinary-inspired flavors, are way better.
That's what the Buitenhuys learned from mixology mentors Travis Nass (Lon's at the Hermosa), Richie Moe (Citizen Public House), and Jason Asher (mixologist for spirits distributor Young's Market Company).
And it's that philosophy that surely inspired them to go out on an entrepreneurial limb. Get this . . .