Kat Savage and Elliot Patterson of Savor Shrub Bitters Talk Cocktail Mixers
Kat Savage and Elliot Patterson, the humans behind Savor Shrub Bitters, make "concentrated, probiotic, fermented, non-alcoholic cocktail and mocktail mixers." These tasty, creative spritzers add instant flavor to any drink--and they're good for you, too! Bitters have a long history as digestive aids, and some of Savor Shrub's creations might even help you dodge a hangover.
Kat started Savor Shrub Bitters in the winter of 2019, intending at that time to sell mainly to restaurants and bars. After Covid hit, plans changed. The fledgling company pivoted on a dime, restructuring their business plan and launching an online sales platform to accommodate the shifting landscape. In the interview below, Kat and Elliot called in to talk to us about their business and the delicious, creative products they make. Listen below or scroll down for the transcript!
This week only, Savor Shrub's limited-edition seasonal flavor, Cackalacky Scuppernong Kudzu Flower Y'all, and their five-flavor flight are 20% off! Visit our market and select "Savor Shrub Bitters" from the producer menu on the left.
Kade: If you would, would you both just tell me a little bit about yourselves for people who may have never heard of you? What do you make and what do you do?
Kat: Sure, yeah. My name is Kat Savage, and my business partner is on the line with us, too.
Elliot: Hi, I'm Elliot Patterson.
Kat: Yeah, and together we make Savor Shrub Bitters. It's a craft cocktail and mocktail mixer. We're here in the Asheville area, and our business is about a year old.
Kade: That's awesome. Congratulations, I didn't know how old your business was. What are shrub bitters?
Kat: Yeah. Elliot, do you want to do this one?
Elliot: So, our shrub bitters are a concentrated, probiotic, fermented, non-alcoholic cocktail and mocktail mixer made from fresh fruit and botanicals and fermented in live apple cider vinegar.
Kade: Oh, wow. That's a mouthful, and also it sounds delicious.
Kat: It's a little like a kombucha cocktail mixer. I know a lot of folks will use a kombucha as a little tricky, easy cocktail mixer, but this is really meant for that. It's a little bit more concentrate, and you can dilute it with all kinds of other stuff. It makes just, like, five-minute fancy cocktails at home. It's pretty great just to have something that can elevate any drink that easily.
Kade: Yeah, that's really neat. It's nice to have something to just splash in there to fancy it up a little bit.
Elliot: And there's a lot of flexibility in these, too. We've got, like, the Orange-Mango Spice, which is great with hot water as a hot toddy. You can put a little rum in that. I really like the Lemon Spruce-Rite with sparkly water. It's like a very herbaceous lemonade. There's a lot of different directions you can go in.
Kade: And I've seen on your social media that you post a fair amount of mocktail recipes, too. I think that's really neat. We live in such a cocktail-and-beer type of city--I don't see a lot of mocktail-friendly stuff. I really like that that's something that you can do.
Kat: Thanks. It's definitely a big focus. We really aren't big alcohol drinkers ourselves, and we are also in this Asheville mocktail and beer culture. I think I've googled "top three mocktails in Asheville" and you get nothing. You get an article from the Mountain Xpress from like 2015, so I think that we have a lot of room in Asheville if other mocktail makers want to jump in and help expand the niche, it's not a competition. Let's offer people options to drink in more healthy-conscious ways, and just actually, if you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, stop and enjoy it. Savor it. It's not just about, you know, drinking. It's about taking in the moment, and I think that when we consider whether we want to drink a cocktail or mocktail, even in the moment when we're making ourselves a drink in the kitchen, just taking a moment to consider whether we want to actually want to drink any alcohol or not is a great way to stay present in life. It's a whole different lifestyle.
Kade: Yeah. I agree, and it's a good way to be kind to your body, too.
Kat: Not everybody wants to feel like crap all the time, and drinking alcohol really can do that. So the bitters in our cocktail mixers can really help prevent people from feeling so bad when they do choose to make a cocktail, because it supports the body and has a history of supporting the liver when you enjoy bitters with your food.
Kade: Oh, that's clever. I didn't know that, about the health functions of the bitters.
Kat: Yeah! They're really good for you. I think that people stay away from bitters in their home kitchen a lot, other than coffee and chocolate and maybe hops. Those are common bitters flavors we have in our kitchen. But I think Americans especially are kind of intimidated by mixing bitters, so we've just gone ahead and done that mixing so people don't have to worry about getting that perfect ratio so it still tastes good.
Elliot: We were brainstorming a little bit before this call. I think bitters are a pretty unfamiliar flavor in American diets. It reminds me of when umami was a big thing a bunch of years ago, when we all discovered, "Oh my gosh, there's a fifth flavor!" I was like, yeah, bitters are the new umami. I think we're used to them being in very specific contexts. You know, if you mix cocktails, if you're knowledgeable about mixed beverages, you know about using bitters to enhance the alcohol. But it's kind of like, yeah, chocolate and coffee are the only contexts we're really familiar with them enhancing a flavor. I think we often try to cover up bitter with sweetness in our chocolates and coffee. Our flavor-mixing in our shrub mixers--we use the bitter to balance out the other flavors, and it's also a traditional digestive aid. I think there's, like, a spring tonic aspect of this that we could talk about a little bit. You know, the early spring greens like dandelions are something bitter that kind of helps wake your body up after the winter. There's a lot of seasonal and regional influences in how we put these flavors together.
Kat: Yeah, there are.
Kade: I think that makes a lot of sense, and I think that fits well for here in the South, where we think of bitter greens as a big part of our cultural diet and culinary history.
Kat: I love that parallel. I think folks in the South in more rural areas still do things like harvest and eat dandelion greens, and these things are still traditional in various parts of Europe, too, because--especially, like, dandelions, they're found all over the globe. They're naturalized everywhere at this point. We have both dandelion greens and roots in several of our signature flavors. I think Blueberry Lemon-Lavender Shrub Bitters has maybe the most dandelion of any--that's the main bitters in that one, besides the lemon peel, which is also a great bitters. We just love incorporating local, abundant things in our bitters where possible. We're really hoping to move over to sourcing more and more from local farmers, maybe even other farmers through Patchwork, over the next couple of growing seasons as we expand.
Kade: Oh, that's really cool. You know I love to hear that.
Kat: Yeah. We'll definitely be reaching out to folks.