“A very innovative project with a perfect link to cocktail heritage used to introduce the consumption of insects in an accessible way.” — Core77
“While cricket-based bitters might not solve the food problem, the product could help overcome a psychological one.” — Popular Science
Cocktail bitters, sometimes considered the salt and pepper of cocktails, are a bartender’s best friend. Bitters add depths of flavor to drinks. They’re also good for stimulating digestion before and after meals.
Critter Bitters are cocktail bitters with a bite. They’re made with toasted crickets, which add a sweet, nutty note to drinks.
And what’s more, Critter Bitters are the gateway to eating insects. Over two billion people around the world already eat insects regularly. But for those of us who don’t, the idea might be hard to swallow.
Instead of adopting other cultures’ traditions of eating insects, Critter Bitters give us the liquid courage we need to spark our own insect-eating traditions.
In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) put out a report titled, “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.” The report noted that the global population, which is now more than seven billion, may grow to nine billion by 2050. And nearly one billion people regularly go hungry already.
Insects —a source of protein that require a fraction of the land, water, and feed as livestock — are considered the first viable solution to the impending food shortage.
Eating insects (known as entomophagy) is good for the planet. It’s good for your health. And it’s a great conversation starter at the bar.
In Mexico, there’s the “worm” in mezcal (it’s actually a caterpillar) which was believed to bring good fortune and strength. Its origin is still debated and cynics might chalk it up to being a marketing gimmick, but it turns out the worm actually changes the drink’s chemistry and makes it a real-life aphrodisiac!
And in China, they first began infusing vodka with scorpions during the Western Zhou Dynasty. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this drink has the ability to reinvigorate a person.
One more little known fact: From when the bottled cocktail Campari was first created by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s in Milan up until 2006, the drink got its signature red color from cochineal, a type of beetle. People have speculated why the makers switched to artificial coloring — Was it to appease vegans? Was the natural dye too expensive? Whatever the reason, experts agree that the post-2006 version is less complex. Maybe Gaspare Campari was just ahead of his time.
Flash forward to 2015 and we found that our friends are psyched to have bugs in their booze. They’re more willing to try new things when it comes in a cocktail. And mixologists, who tend to be super creative, are always on the hunt for new flavors.
Up until this point, we’ve been making Critter Bitters in small batches at home. But there’s some serious demand for Critter Bitters (More than we could have ever imagined when we first made the prototype in grad school).
So far, the bitters have fueled hackathons, won design awards, and flown to Milan for design week. We’ve been on panels about the future of food and about entomophagy. But we haven’t been able to scale up our production so that we can share the bitters with everyone who wants them.
In order to produce our first big run of Critter Bitters, we need some support. We’re trying to figure out how many people want to try Critter Bitters.
For now, Critter Bitters are exclusively available on Kickstarter. This is your opportunity to be the first of your friends to get Critter Bitters, before they take the world by storm.
If this Kickstarter is funded, we will be able to:
- Refine and commercialize our recipe with the help of professional mixologists and distillers
- Buy ingredients from the best quality manufacturing suppliers
- Develop our packaging and create labels
- Ensure regulatory compliance with labels and shipping costs
Support our kickstarter. Do it for the planet. Do it to try something new. Do it to impress your girlfriend. And do it because they taste awesome.
The Supporter: 1 bottle of Critter Bitters and a recipe e-book
The Mixologist Kit: 2 Flavors of Critter Bitters and a recipe e-book
The Advo-Kit: 1 bottle of Critter Bitters + a tote bag + a recipe e-book
The Maverick Kit: 2 flavors of Critter Bitters + a tote bag + a recipe e-book
The Best Friend Kit: Two sets of all the things and your name on our website
The Wholesaler Kit: 18 bottles of Critter Bitters + a recipe e-book to share
The Socialite Kit: The Best Friend Kit + a hangout sesh with the founders
The World-Changer Kit: Design for Culture Change workshop + The Best Friend Kit
We are Lucy Knops and Julia Plevin. We’re NYC and SF-based designers who met in graduate school. Lucy is a seasoned bartender and Julia is a globe-trotting adventurer. We’re passionate about making complicated issues digestible.
Lucy is a multidisciplinary designer who seeks to challenge social norms through her work. She pulls from over 10 years of experience living and working in NYC in the fashion and design community and as a bartender. She holds a BA in History from New York University and a MFA from the Products of Design program at The School of Visual Arts.
Julia is a designer, strategist, and writer with a keen eye for innovation and a passion for culture change. She received a BA from Dartmouth College in 2009 and a MFA from The School of Visual Arts in 2015. She’s worked at startup magazines and technology companies and most recently at IDEO and SYPartners.