Erika Rode of the new craft cocktail bar Bitters.EXPAND
Erika Rode of the new craft cocktail bar Bitters.
Courtesy of John Glynn

Craft Cocktail Bar Bitters Opening at ASU's SkySong

A new craft cocktail bar, Bitters, will open its doors to drinkers this weekend at ASU's colossal SkySong development in Scottsdale near Scottsdale and McDowell roads. The cocktail program, featuring 17 drinks, will utilize a galaxy of bitters — from local (AZ Bitters Lab, CaskWerks) to global (Angostura, Peychaud's).

Erika Rode will oversee the cocktail program. Rode worked in marketing and management for Total Wine & More for the last seven years. Total Wine is a booze distributor with more than 100 locations spread across some 40 states, and close to a dozen locations in Arizona.

"What I'm most excited about is the promotion of craft concepts," Rode says. "For me, what that means is we really focus on small production. I'm pushing the small business aspect behind liquor, wine, and beer."

Twelve of the cocktails will be brainstormed from-scratch for Bitters. Five will be classics slightly modified. There will be one house-aged cocktail, which will rotate.

Landing in the classic category will be a drink done in the style of an Old Fashioned, one christened the Arizona Sour. The base will be whiskey from Canyon Diablo Spirits in Flagstaff. Lemon replaces the classic's orange. To create froth, morph flavor, and deepen color, Rode uses egg whites together with Lambrusco.

Wine choices will lean exotic, but with the average drinker's tastes in mind. Rode hopes to introduce clients to new grapes. She will offer glasses of ugni blanc, a "crisp, well-balanced white" she likens to chardonnay or pinot grigio. Also available will be that lambrusco, a take she says is much drier than what most typically associate with the cloying, one-dimensional Italian grape.

Beer choices will be strong. Taps will deliver the usual top-tier national staples (Dogfish Head, Founders) as well as local favorites (O.H.S.O., Huss).

Interestingly, 30 patrons will be able to procure locker space at Bitters to store their own whiskey.

Food will feature ambitious bar eats in small plate form: short ribs, crab cakes, beef tenderloin satay. Diners can also munch on three kinds of "craft popcorn," one doused with truffle butter; another with curry powder, goat cheese, and honey; and a third zapped with tajin, lime salt, and queso fresco.

To score that popcorn or an Arizona Sour, check out Bitters' grand opening this weekend on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Bitters, 1455 North Scottsdale Road, #115, Scottsdale, 480-550-5088
Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Monday

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