Lauren Mote is is a bartender. She is also a chef, sommelier, educator, comedian, and dreamer. Jonathan Chovancek is a chef. He is also a bartender, scientist, mentor, advocate, and superhero. Partners in life and work, this dynamic duo fights beverage boredom and ingredient ignorance with inspired culinary inventions and relentless engagement with peers and public.
After many years spent in restaurants, bars, and catering, Mote and Chovancek decided to get to the heart of flavour by making it from scratch in the form of Bittered Sling Extracts, their ever-expanding range of handcrafted bitters. The personality of every extract is forged with a respect for what nature provides. “We want to inspire creativity on the glass and plate,” says Chovancek. “Locally and globally sourced ingredients inspire us to create recipes with a symphony of flavours, and our palate informs our approach. We want diversity. We try to craft a product that really can be used in a myriad of different directions, not limit people to one thing. We want to keep that spectrum as broad as possible. Like with the Shanghai Rhubarb, your brain can say, ‘I can apply this to tequila, halibut, to jazzing up a Negroni. I can use it to really highlight oceanic quality of oysters.’”
Complex recipes like Denman are founded on classic aromatics, which are then made virile and modern with a range of spices including chilies, peppercorns, seeds, and roots found south of the Gobi Desert. Playful and savoury compilations such as Cascade Celery are vibrant and authentic with ingredients foraged from the Cascade Mountains. Mote says, “These fantastic ingredients, many of them local, allow us to make unique bitters, which then make it possible to take the cocktails to exciting new places.”
The return of bitters to the bartender’s tool kit has availed products like Bittered Sling to be born and succeed; the key here is the inimitable fervour of the people behind it who engage and inspire every single person lucky enough to meet them. Witnessing how much personality and enthusiasm goes into every bottle, simply makes their bitters taste better. Bittered Sling has made its way into the hands of creative people around the world, but the brand and its parents are very much about the place they call home.
Photo of Jonathan Chovancek and Lauren Mote by Issha Marie.