By Alison Bailin Batz
For Erika Rode, all roads led her to Bitters, the newest craft cocktail hot spot in South Scottsdale, located at SkySong. Rode opened the 2,700-square-foot space – which boasts gorgeous exposed brick, intricate ductwork, and its own on-site garden – in late October, making it the first bar to open at the Arizona State University-owned development since its inception nearly a decade ago.
Her goals: to shine the spotlight on local breweries as well as unique craft options from across the globe; to churn out thoughtful handcrafted cocktails using small production spirits whenever possible; and to offer a small but mighty menu of fresh, fabulous food.
“My passion for craft, small-batch production in food and drink developed during my time in the liquor and hospitality industries,” Rode says. “Meeting the families behind smaller vineyards, sitting with folks who started breweries in their garages, and tasting the difference in flavor at a distillery that chose an artisanal style over mass production resonated with me. I want to give the ‘smaller guys’ a voice.”
And that she does, especially on the beer and cocktail menus. Bitters features 12 rotating beers on tap, which are all local, limited-edition, or of craft variety. Current offerings include O.H.S.O. Popsicle Blonde, Elysian Night Owl, Huss Koffee Kölsch, and Ciderboys First Press.
On the cocktail side, each of the signature options has the word “bitter” in the name, using a play on words (think The Bitter Truth and For Bitter or For Worse). All are made-to-order from fresh-squeezed juices and their own mixer recipes; you won’t find any premixed cocktails here.
For those who prefer wine, there are nearly a dozen options by the glass as well as hand-selected bottles, which will also rotate.
To pair with any of the above is a menu that features 12 signature small plates, which will change on a regular basis based on local ingredients and seasonality, as well as flavored popcorn and salads. Currently, the menu includes rock shrimp, farro risotto and beef satay.
“Our gourmet plates are made from scratch with a seasonal and local focus. We offer quality choices and items across the entire menu, not just a focus on one category,” Rode says.
They also offer a personalized locker program called the Bitter Enthusiast Club, where up to 30 members are granted access to the space to store their favorite bottle of whiskey to enjoy on-site anytime, plus exclusive tastings and access to rare bottles.
Bitters is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Bitters, 1455 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.550.5088; www.bittersbar.com.