Menswear & Goods, Culinary
Scrappy’s Bitters - Seattle, WA
He had a bullet hole wound the size of a half-dollar.
Scrappy’s Bitters founder Miles Thomas sports the scar on his right bicep. Raised skin in a circular pattern, it is so clearly a bullet wound, I didn’t have to ask. Just beneath his t-shirt sleeve, the wound came with a price. Before he was crafting high quality bitters, Thomas was a star in Seattle’s cocktail scene. Late nights, combined with surly patrons, and you can imagine the story
“Attempted robbery. I tried to wrestle him to the ground, but he popped one off in my arm.”
With a wrestler’s build, Thomas is a confessed brawler (hence the “Scrappy” moniker), but he says he hasn’t done much scrapping since. He was waiting for me at a bar near his home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. As we shared drinks, he told me his story.
While Thomas was managing a craft cocktail bar where they squeezed their own juices, made homemade tonics and bitters in 2008, there were only four commercial bitters on the market. Today, there are more than thirty. Seizing the opportunity, Thomas decided he’d introduce the world to the heftier bitters of his creation, a bitters that really packed a punch.
“I’m a perfectionist. I believe if you’re going to put something out into the world, it should be the best.”
He explained that what was currently on the market was either comprised of synthetics or weakened, all natural ingredients. He wanted bitters with a fuller flavor, a bolder elixir than what currently existed. Today, his line is comprised of 10 bitters, a spicy, floral “Firewater” habanero tincture, and it’s bolstered by an additional rotating selection of seasonal bitters.
Though Thomas began by making everything in his kitchen, eventually he moved onto a commercial kitchen, then to a local winery, and now he and his staff work in their own production facility in Fremont, but he tells me they are quickly outgrowing that as well, and looking to move into a larger warehouse.
“It’s exciting, but I always remain cautiously optimistic. I was just in France, and the bartenders there were doing wonderfully inventive things with our bitters…. [Scrappy’s Bitters] were in virtually every bar. Still, in the back of my mind, I have to leave a little room for us to grow.”
It’s this hard fought mentality that’s kept Thomas and company successful, and I get the sense, he intends to keep it that way.
While in Seattle, I toured the Theo Chocolate factory, and afterwards, I picked up a bottle of Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters, made exclusively with Theo’s delicious chocolate. I followed up with Miles upon returning home to see how he’d suggest putting the bitters to use. He provided his spin on a Manhattan, my favorite drink.
Scrappy’s Chocolate Drop Manhattan
2 parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
1/4 part Licor 43® Liqueur
1/4 part Carpano® Antica Vermouth
1 orange peel
4-5 dashes Scrappy’s Bitters
Stir and serve up in a chilled martini shell with an orange flat peel, and float 4-5 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters on top.
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Enriched by a hint of peppermint, it impresses with notes of pepper balanced by slight citrus overtones, and a spicy, warming finish.
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A Chicago-based storyteller, keeper of a whiskey blog and shop-owner who's known for his appreciation of America.