Ray Snead owner and creator of Cocktailpunk bitters started out making bitters for himself, then giving them to friends, then to friends of friends. It was a snowball effect. Eater learned how Cocktailpunk works and how it all started.
Snead took a real liking to wine when he worked at the Boulder Wine Merchant. His passion for cocktails made him know that making bitters was in his future, no matter what. He got some industry advice from Allison Anderson at Frasca Food and Wine and Bryan Dayton at Oak at Fourteenth, who encouraged him to move forward with his dream.
Cocktail Punk became a registered business three months ago. "I think of these as very modern bitters." "They are simple and elemental building blocks that work in a lot of cocktails, not weird flavors that you have to build a cocktail around." He believes in this motto that "bitters should be just that, bitter" and it can be found on the Cocktailpunk website.
What Snead finds the most enjoyable about his job is that he does everything. "Formula creation, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, marketing, delivery, web development, social media, and, yes, bottle washing and sweeping. It's different every day."
The commercial kitchen for Cocktailpunk is in North Boulder. Snead is working on using more local items, such as a local distiller's high-proof vodka that is the base for some of his bitters. He purchases most of the spices from local stores the Savory Spice Shop and Rebecca's Apothecary.
Cocktailpunk has three flavors currently; orange, cherry, and aromatic. He isn't shy to say which is his favorite for his favorite drink; "Hands down it is the Manhattan, and Cocktailpunk cherry bitters were invented for this drink. An old bartender trick is to add a barspoon of cherry syrup from the Luxardo jar to a Manhattan— you'll never have to do that again!"
Cocktailpunk is used at Basta, Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale, Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, and North Boulder Liquor to name a few. At Acorn the Rossies Return features Leopold gin, sparkling rose, raspberries, Cocktailpunk orange bitters, and rose flower water. You can also find them in the Tuesday in November cocktail which has Americano, aperol, contratto, vermouth rosso, and Cocktailpunk cherry bitters.
Ray has dreams of expanding to even more cocktail ingredients such as vermouth, but is just focusing now on his bitters. Try his three new flavors: smoked orange, Pastiche, and Alpino.
— By Kelsey Colt
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