The Pitch: Beechworth Bitters

Published on 14 July 2021

Photo: Beechworth Bitters Co's amari

A leading chef branches out with amari flavoured by the High Country.

Beechworth Bitters started in 2020 as a project for Provenance chef and owner Michael Ryan in Victoria's Lockdown 2.0 to produce cocktail bitters from a long-forgotten purchase of bittering botanicals. Amari, the bitter Italian drinks of Italy, are the next logical (but more complex) step from cocktail bitters. The range now consists of five amari, one liquor (a yuzucello) and two cocktail bitters.

Here’s the inside word from Ryan.

Who are you and what are you all about?
At present I am COO, CEO, CFO, CMO and creative director; company meetings are a hoot. My wife Jeanette, Pete Bartholomew and Donna Pelka have been my tasting panel. I’ve been working on amari for the last 12 months. I initially I created about 120 botanical extractions and then used this library to create recipes for each of the amari.

Give us the elevator pitch, what is Beechworth Bitters Company?
Beechworth Bitters is my way to utilise and feature some of the many botanicals from our area, in the fascinating world of craft amari.

Explain like we’re five, how do you make them?
Each amaro is made from a blend of anywhere between 30 and 45 botanicals. These botanicals (aka plants) can roughly be divided into bittering botanicals, herbal botanicals, fruit botanicals, witchy botanicals and a few unclassifiable ones. Each botanical is made separately, and is a blend of an alcohol extraction and an aqueous extraction.

What excites you about this project?
I’ve always loved amari for their complexity and diversity. I’ve approached the development of the recipes for our amari from a very chef-centric point of view. One thing that years in kitchens will teach you is an ability to combine flavours and create recipes in your head as a starting point, and this has been crucial in the creation of Beechworth Bitters amari.

What are the perfect conditions to enjoy Beechworth Bitters Company’s drinks?
Personally, I like my amari chilled and neat. But really, have it however you want – they’re also good over ice, in cocktail, or as a spritz.

Is it here for a good time or a long time?
Our first batch of amari and yuzucello is a total of around 900 bottles. The next batch will be increased by 50 per cent and then each new batch will be again increased in volume, depending on demand.

Who's pouring it?
The product has yet to be released (we’re waiting on a change of liquor licence, which shouldn't be too far away). But interest has been shown by Gimlet, Embla, Bar Liberty and a few others still be to confimed. And of course Provenance in Beechworth.

Where can I buy it?
Sales will just be through our website at beechworthbitters.com. The initial release will be offered to those who have signed up to our mailing list and then the rest will be released on the website. All the extracts have been done for the second batch, so this batch should be available in the next three months. 

Beechworth Bitters Company bitters, $55-$65 per 500ml, beechworthbitters.com

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