Bar Crawling With the Boys From Hella Bitter

Leslie Pariseau
The boys from Hella Bitter know how to have a night out. I've seen it in action. The creator of the Brooklyn based bitters company, the dapper Benjamin Ahr Harrison, almost always shows up with a tie and pocket square. (That's him in the photo above). Eduardo Simeon's a flannel guy and Tobin Ludwig, ever slightly woodsmanesque, might walk into a bar rocking a  a button-down and work boots. Though I've never met the fourth partner, Jomaree Pinkard, I'm told he keeps the other three in line. I also have a sneaking suspicion he's just as much trouble as the rest of them. Hella Bitter, the result of home-grown kitchen cocktail experiments by Harrison, is going official next Friday and launching its line of bitters at Windmill Studios in Williamsburg. In anticipation of their debut, we chatted with them about their favorite places to toss back a few around town. 

The Everyday Drink
: We tend to go between two kinds of places. We've got a great appreciation for the neighborhood dive -- a shitty bar with cheap beer where we're friends with the bartender -- or a place like Miller's Tavern -- the local staple that has good bartenders and good food. Miller's has really upped their cocktail game. It's a win-win because you can get a good cocktail and a Miller Highlife.

The Suspenders and Bow-Tie Bar: We love Maison Premiere for its cocktails. They make a good negroni. Hotel Delmano is a good place to experiment and try new things. Ben is usually the first to try a new cocktail. He'll often order the most unusual-sounding or intriguing drink on a menu. Eddie and Tobin are usually happy getting something neat. It depends on the mood.

Shitty Dive of the Moment: Our shitty dive of choice right now is Midway on Grand. Ideally a dive bar is within 200 feet of where you live. So it's great to be in Williamsburg because there are so many options. We like their 'happy meal' special -- $5 for a Miller High Life and a shot of Old Crow.

The Nights for Fancy Pants: Raine's Law Room is one of our favorite cocktail bars and our special occasion bar. It's a good place for something classic like a Last Word, but their house cocktails are always great."

Where to Drink with the Bartenders: We were at Summit for the first time a couple of months ago. We started with some nice house cocktails and shot the shit with the bartenders and found out that they love their tequila there. They were really generous and gave us shots of really good tequila. It's really nice when they take something off the top shelf and drink with you.

The Whiskey Bar: Noorman's Kil is one of those places we would go to three times a week if it was closer. It's a whiskey lovers' bar. Those guys are so knowledgeable and do a great job at education. We like that because it's what we're trying to do at Hella Bitter -- tell the masses what bitters and booze are about.

Bars We Aspire To Be Involved With: If we had to give a shout out to bars that we'd love Hella Bitters to be in, first would be Pegu Club. It's the pinnacle of the cocktail resurgence. Kin Shop would be a great place and also David Chang's new place, Booker & Dax. We want Hella to be at places we love to eat and drink. There's no better feeling than going into a place you love and seeing your stuff on the bar.

Hella Bitter launches on Friday, March 2nd at Windmill Studios, 287 Kent Avenue. 7:30-10:30, $10 at the door. Endless cocktails and free samples. In the meantime you can find Hella at Miller's Tavern, Noorman's Kil, The Beagle, Red Cat, The Meadow, Whisk, Le Du's Wines and Astor Center.

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