Before the classic cocktail renaissance fully enveloped the city and seemingly every new bar in town was advertising its mixology-focused menu, bitters were still an afterthought. But now the herb-flavored drink elixirs—long ago marketed for their medicinal properties—are suddenly not just in demand but being reconceived by a new era of bartenders intent on innovation.
Enter Louis Anderman, a longtime industry executive who ran the story department at Disney’s Hollywood Pictures for years, then became the VP of creative affairs at Miramax before eventually going freelance. A little over a year ago, on a lark, he launched Miracle Mile Bitters (named for the neighborhood he calls home), and now he’s got seven flavors — from yuzu and chocolate-chili to orange and bergamot — retailing at Barkeeper in Silverlake.
Those who have been drinking lately at establishments along the more creatively ambitious orbit of L.A.’s cocktail scene, from Harvard & Stone and Big Bar to the Tar Pit, may have already tasted Anderman’s bitters, since bartenders have quickly become seduced by the stuff. “It’s a lot of fun to see what they do with what I create,” he says. “I’m just making an instrument and they have to play it.”
Right now he’s selling 150 to 200 bottles per month. By the end of 2012 he hopes to be moving enough units to work full-time on the brand. “I still have a foot in the film business [with consulting work and script development] but I’m trying to wrest the remainder of my toes out,” says Anderman. Among the perks of the new line of work: “It’s been at least a year since I’ve paid a full bar tab anywhere.”