All The Bitter makes conscious and tasty drinks for everyone – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO – All The Bitter’s story is a blessing.

In January 2022, Ian Blessing and his wife, Carly Blessing, launched a brand of non-alcoholic bitters called All The Bitter, which is now sold across the United States and exported to three countries, with three more to follow, according to a press release.

All The Bitter produces and distributes a line of award-winning non-alcoholic bitter cocktails that can support digestion and liver health while adding complex flavors to cocktails, mocktails, sparkling water and other beverages, according to the release.

The Blessings worked at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, where they met and worked as sommeliers.

“It’s an amazing, amazing restaurant,” said Ian Blessing. “You spend $1000 on a meal, but that’s the thing to do when visiting Napa.”

Ian Blessing started working at French Laundry in 2016 and Carly Blessing in 2015. They started as food runners and worked their way up to sommeliers. After several years of working at the restaurant, the Blessings loved their job but decided that having children and working until 2 a.m. was not easy.

Carly Blessing left her job at French Laundry in May 2019 after giving birth to the couple’s first child, Jack Blessing, who is now three years old. They have another son, Miles Blessing, who is one and a half years old. Ian Blessing left the restaurant in October 2018 and started working at Bouchon, a French Laundry partner restaurant, in October 2018. Although for years their life centered around alcohol, the Blessings decided he was time to get sober.

The three flavors of bitters dreamed up by All The Bitter founders Ian and Carly Blessing are pictured in San Francisco, Calif., in June 2022. (Kelly Puleio/Contribution)

“After having our first child, it became clear that drinking and raising a baby didn’t go together,” said Ian Blessing. “Kids don’t care if you’re hungover. They’re going to wake up at 2 a.m. anyway.

Inspired by the flavor profiles of the classic bitters found behind each bar, the brand’s three varietals, Aromatic, Orange and New Orleans, are packed with organic and functional botanicals like dandelion root, holy basil, lemon balm and milk thistle seeds. Non-alcoholic alternatives to beer, wine and spirits were growing rapidly. The category is expected to grow 34% from 2020 to 2024, according to the release.

The company has received an incredible response from consumers, critics and the media, including articles in the San Francisco Chronicle, Good Morning America and Forbes, as well as silver and gold awards from spirits competitions renowned, according to the press release.

Excited to combine their beverage and flavor expertise with a new market focused on inclusion
and conscious consumption, Carly and Ian Blessing are grateful to have found early success as a baby mum and-
pop enterprise. Handcrafted in small batches in the Meriam Park Alley kitchen, the new company has
has already won six medals in prestigious spirits competitions such as the San Francisco World Spirits
Competition and the Los Angeles Spirit Awards, according to the release.

Ian Blessing is originally from the Los Angeles area and Carly Blessing grew up in Durham. Ian Blessing went to Chico State in 2003. During the COVID-19 pandemic, after everything was shut down, the Blessings found their way back to the Chico area, where Carly’s family still lives.

Carly attended wine school in Boston and worked in bars and restaurants there. Ian was on the same track while working in California. He said he wanted to learn more about wine and was interested in beer, spirits and service. He started to read and learn as much as he could. Both blessings are certified by the court of master sommeliers.

“The wine program at French Laundry is amazing,” said Ian. “You learn firsthand how to serve these wines. I have studied and obtained a number of certifications and passed an exam to be an expert in my field.

After returning to Chico, the Blessings had to decide what to do next, as they no longer wanted to work in restaurants. As they had just quit drinking, they were excited to discover the burgeoning world of non-alcoholic alternatives, such as spirits, imitation whisky, gin and tequila.

“It’s like having decaffeinated coffee or veggie burgers,” said Ian Blessing. “You can enjoy rituals and flavors without consuming alcohol. We got really interested as consumers and made soft drinks at home. Bitters were important to use and we decided to make one ourselves.

Ian said it can be difficult to quit drinking alcohol, and coming from his experience with wine, beer, spirits and cocktails, it was an important part of his personal and professional life. He studied drinks around the clock. After quitting drinking, the Blessings were happy to discover that alternatives existed and could enjoy the rituals and flavors they loved so much.

Ian Blessing got the idea for the business while looking at an empty liquor bottle. He wondered if he could make any cocktail in the world without alcohol and tie it all together with bitters.

The Blessings do all the mixing and lapping in their commercial kitchen. They also do all the marketing, bottling, stickering and other tasks associated with starting a business.

“You start with vegetable glycerin and apple cider vinegar and organic raw botanicals such as spices, fruits and flowers and let them steep in liquid for two months. Glycerin works well with extraction and shelf stability. We macerate ingredients, which means letting something sit in a liquid for a period of time that extracts flavors. It’s like making tea in the sun without the sun,” he said.

Ian Blessing came up with the company name after hearing a guest say “so much the better” on a podcast and the brainchild of All the Bitter was born.

The price for a four-ounce bottle of bitters is $26.50 and there’s a three-pack for $33. Drinks have many health benefits.

“The ingredients are beneficial and help support digestion,” said Ian Blessing. “They are packed with beneficial herbs such as dandelion and milk thistle, which are great for digestive and gut health. Milk thistle is purifying. Bitters are enjoyable but also have functional benefits.

Ian said you can mix a few dashes of bitters into sparkling water, which also has digestive benefits and helps with hangovers.

Bitters are not yet available in bars or restaurants in Chico. Blessings are focused on domestic and international markets. They’re talking at a cafe in Redding but so far there’s only talk.

The next step for the company is to expand.

“We want to evolve and grow and see what it looks like,” said Ian Blessing. “We don’t have as much time as we would like to spend in the kitchen. We want to find a larger facility and continue to manufacture the product ourselves.

The Blessings are testing a handful of new recipes, including a small batch of Lavender Chamomile. They also want to make canned bitters and sodas.

The Blessings don’t have any employees yet, so they do all the work themselves, although they do have contractors and graphic designers working with them, but they do 90% of the work themselves.

The product is available in Canada in bars and restaurants and in Iceland and the Blessings are in talks with establishments in Saudi Arabia. They also want to sell in Dubai, UK and India.

“The response has been incredible,” said Ian Blessing. “When we started the business, friends and family were asking, ‘Do you sell a farmers market?’ and we have to say ‘We are in communication with Saudi Arabia.’ The market has grown.

The business typically produces around 10 orders a day, but could be 10-20. Ian Blessing said he and Carly Blessing are learning a lot and learning as they go.

Blessings contribute about three percent of their total sales to charities. They work with a company called 1% for the Planet, which supports the environment. They also donate 2% of their sales to charities or drug and alcohol addiction organizations that help recover from drug and alcohol addiction.

“I wanted my business to have an impact and give back to the community,” said Ian Blessing. “I’m happy with that and that’s really what keeps us going. People love the product and we help people too.

All The Bitter can be accessed at allthebitter.com, on Facebook under All The Bitter and on Instagram under allthebitter. All The Bitter can be found locally at the Made in Chico store at 127 West Third St. in downtown Chico or shipped directly to allthebitter.com.

I write a business column every week. If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, or if you have story ideas, please contact me at jblevins@chicoer.com. Thanks.

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