The Bitter Housewife
Founders: Genevieve and Dan Brazelton
Year founded: 2012
Product description: Cocktail bitters for the home bartender.
Yearly sales: Estimated $750,000 for 2018
Is it profitable?: No, but it’s getting close.
Available at: Most New Seasons, Safeways and Whole Foods in Portland-Vancouver, and 150 other stores across the country
Often, “a splash of bitters” is the step you skip when fixing yourself a drink at home. With the Bitter Housewife, Genevieve Brazelton set out to make an easy-to-use, balanced bitter that wouldn’t intimidate amateur mixologists while also satisfying the dedicated cocktail geek.
“We really pride ourselves on the fact we are able to convert a lot of people who think they can’t make cocktails at home,” she says, “and convince them they can.”
Brazelton’s initial motivation was to create the perfect bitter recipe for an old-fashioned to post on her lifestyle blog. Once she mastered it, her husband, Dan, wondered if they could bottle and sell it. Genevieve Brazelton jokingly suggested the name “Bitter Housewife”—and they immediately registered a website.
The business really took off after the couple moved from San Francisco to Portland in 2013. Within a year, they’d landed their first wholesale order from New Seasons. In 2016, the Brazeltons took over the established cocktail syrup brand Raft and began selling both under the umbrella company Improper Goods Inc.
The husband-and-wife team now lead three other employees, and they’ve moved from their home kitchen into a commercial kitchen. Their selection of bitters range from cardamom to lime coriander to their signature angostura-style blend of dried cherries, ginger and baking spices. Despite the company’s growth, each bottle is still touched by a human hand. They hope to keep it that way.
“We use all real ingredients. For our orange bitters, we get a bunch of cases of fresh oranges in, we peel them all and the peels go into the bitters,” Genevieve Brazelton says. “We still keep it as close to the way we started—with the small batches—in our kitchen as possible.”
Guilty pleasure snack: “I’m a huge ice cream fanatic,” Brazelton says. “I tend to go pretty simple—coffee is my go-to. I love the Salt and Straw Coava Coffee with chocolate flecks in it. Simple, but it always hits the spot.”