Saturday, May 29

Where can I find Bitters?

So I've been living in Tennessee for 2 years now. I didn't realize how accustomed I'd become to Louisiana liquor laws. I know the laws here in Tennessee more closely approximate the rest of the country, but my goodness! All I want is some Angostura Bitters and I can't find them anywhere. In Louisiana I just walk into my local supermarket and pick up my Bourbon, Vermouth, and Bitters in one shot. But in Tennessee (and most everywhere else) no such luck. Bitters for some crazy reason are only sold grocery stores and liquor stores only sell liquor.

I've always thought the Louisiana law on selling liquor in grocery stores made a lot of sense. Liquor stores are always getting robbed and they often induced a seedy element which makes for a scary trip to get one's tipple on. Selling liquor in grocery stores made it safer and much more convenient as your mixers are there too. But I digress, not the point of this post.

Back to the bitters dilemma. Up until now I've been going through my various back stock of bitters and haven't been forced to go in search. However most recently I have had to replenish the supply. When I went looking, store after store had nothing, nada. They had nothing but the same old set of Margarita mixes and dusty cans of Coco Lopez. I'd almost swear it was the same cans if I didn't know better. Of course you ask a store clerk and they look back at you like you've grown a third eye. "Bitters, bitters! What do you want that for?"

Finally after much searching and an ask of a knowledgeable local liquor store clerk, I was pointed to one of those boutique grocery stores, you know the ones, where the soccer moms and turtle neck dads get their tofu and crab spread. There it was beside the designer tonic water, Angostura Bitters!! Whoa!!! $8.23!!!! What the hell! (Sorry for all the ! but that's how I felt) I guess they know they are the only game in town, perhaps there is some deep conspiracy going on that I've uncovered and your very erratic blog author here will go missing, although none of you would know... hmmmm.

But really has the price of bitters gone through the roof recently? Is there a bitters shortage of which I'm not aware?

On top of all of this when I asked to special order some Plymouth Gin at the liquor store I was told they can only special order liquor they can get from their local distributors, state law. Really?!? Alas, online shopping I will go.


barmixmaster said...

Ah ha! Just found this...

Anonymous said...

Hey, I live in Memphis as well and been looking for bitters myself for my home bar. Where did you find them?

barmixmaster said...

Eventually my wife found some at Walmart. She promptly bought all they had. Sorry if I'm hoarding in Memphis.

Anonymous said...

That's terrible that you've had such a difficult time finding such a bar-basic!

Our local grocery stores, like you mention, often sell everything from wine, spirits, beer, and things like Angostura Bitters (however, no Orange, yet). The bitters are usually around $5 or so.

However, it's one of those things that's worth having a variety so I suggest shopping online at places like DrinkUpNY or Kegworks and get a variety package. They're economical.

Now that I have three different orange bitters, Peychaude's, Aztec, barrel-aged and so on... I wonder how I could survive without them all! Besides, they last forever so the little splurge for reasonably priced bottles pays back for a long time.

Cheers, my friend, and thanks for the great blog!

barmixmaster said...

At the time I wrote this it turned out there was a shortage from Trinidad. Seems like they are in full production again!

Becky said...

I sympathize..I live in Iowa, a "controlled" state, and the list of what I can buy is pathetic. Luckily, I'm near the border with both Nebraska and South Dakota, so I can feed my Plymouth Gin addiction by driving an hour. But the prices still are high, as I found to my astonishment last week, when we stopped in Kansas City: Luxardo liquor for $28!? (I paid $45) Green Chartreuse only $49? (mine cost twenty bucks more). The Plymouth was only $22--it costs nearly $40 in Omaha. Sigh...we were at the tail end of a vacation and nearly broke, so I couldn't horde like I wanted.

As to the bitters, even in sad little liquor stores in small towns here in Iowa, I've found it for less than $5, easily. You must have been going mad with frustration.