Review: The Bitter Housewife: Bitters & Soda
Covers Products: Bitters & Soda - Aromatic
The Bitter Housewife is best known for its line of small batch cocktail bitters that are made in Portland, Oregon. Now, the company is expanding this concept with a zero calorie ready-to-drink beverage that combines bitters and carbonated water.
Packaged in a 12 oz. slim can, Bitters & Soda is presently available in a single flavor, Aromatic. The ingredients for the bitters used here include dried cherries, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, wild cherry bark, grains of paradise, sarsaparilla, quassia, allspice, gentian and cloves.
The resulting product is bitter, but not too bitter, and does indeed taste like what you’d get from mixing aromatic bitters with soda water. You can definitely taste the notes of cherry, cinnamon, clove and gentian. And while it’s bitter, it’s not too bitter, which is ultimately what shows the skill of The Bitter Housewife in putting this drink together.
So what’s the use occasion for such a drink? Right now, this seems best suited to be a mixer or something consumed as an alcohol alternative. Despite effectively being a flavored sparkling water, this likely isn’t a replacement for those types of drinks for most consumers (aside from perhaps the bitter obsessed). Lastly, if the brand expands its flavor lineup (especially with some citrus flavored bitters), we think it has s some potential to compete with diet CSDs.
Getting back to the outside, the can has a glossy shrink sleeve label featuring retro style branding that’s in line with the rest of The Bitter Housewife’s products.
The background features an almost V-shaped cutout that’s crimson red followed by two beige panels on each side. The Bitter Housewife logo sits at the top of the label and is flanked by “Scratchmade” and “Portland, OR.” From there, the hierarchy flows from top to bottom, with the product name, flavor name, and caloric content being the key elements. There’s also a callout at the bottom for “zero-proof.”
From an aesthetics perspective, the product is clean, polished and looks the part of an artisanal beverage with ties to the cocktail space. However, we think that a bit more messaging might be needed in order to help spur consumers to pick the product up. On that point, we think that having the word “soda” in the middle of the label might make consumers think that it’s something that it’s not. Regardless, a zero calorie beverage that’s flavored with bitters is a new concept and, as a result, the value proposition will be quite important.
Overall, The Bitter Housewife’s Bitters & Soda is a nice starting point for the brand’s entry into RTD beverages. The Aromatic variety is innovative and enjoyable and, while there’s still some room to evolve the messaging, what they’ve created is definitely top notch.