Behind the Bar Bar Talk

The Man Behind Bittermens Reveals the Tricks to Launching a Bar Product

Avery Glasser isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.

An industry veteran and champion of all things bitters, Avery Glasser and his wife, Janet, launched their small-batch bitters company, Bittermens, in 2007 while living in San Francisco when such an endeavor was still resoundingly novel. Since then, the company has seen exponential growth and expansion, as the importance of bitters has been buoyed by the written word (like Brad Thomas Parsons’ 2011 classic, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All), increased guest education and Glasser’s own shrine to the ingredient, the bitters tasting room Amor y Amargo in New York City.

Undoubtedly, Glasser knows how to successfully build a brand and has some wise words for anyone hoping to make the leap into the often murky waters of carving out a niche for a new product. “Beyond addressing the mechanical aspects like funding, incorporation and insurance, if [certain questions] aren’t fully fleshed out, then success will be very hard to determine,” says Glasser.

Whether you’re a budding syrup mogul or interested in entering the world of gin distillation, Glasser suggests doing a self-audit with the following panel of personal inquiries, which cover both deeper motivations and big-picture thinking about growing the business, before taking the leap into building your own brand.

1. What’s your motivation?

Is this something where you think that you are really solving a problem that hasn’t been addressed (or addressed well)? Is it a hobby or is it ego-driven?

2. What’s your endgame?

Are you looking to get acquired? To grow it yourself? What is your plan for the brand when you’re ready to retire?

3. How will you launch it?

Are you going to mimic the big brands and spend a ton of money to build market awareness, or do you want organic growth?

4. What are you willing to sacrifice?

Will you have to bring in partners? Will you leave your job as a bartender to focus on your brand? Are you happy to stop getting the brand swag to bartender events because you’re no longer behind the stick?