Crude Bitters – Handmade in Raleigh

by Ilinap on October 30, 2014


It’s always great to hear the great tale of a hobby sparking a flourishing business. I can see the shine of passion in the eyes and smile lines of every business owner I meet who is doing exactly what he wants. I met up with Craig Rudewicz of Crude Bitters recently. He exhibits the telltale signs of a guy marching to the beat of his own proverbial drummer. Craig started out making bitters and sodas as a hobby in his own kitchen. As you can imagine, he became a popular gift giver so that hobby eventually turned into a growing business.

Crude Bitters was born. One of the first questions I asked Craig was “Why Crude?” It turns out that must be a common question because he covers it on his website. “Why ‘crude?’ The name is in reference to the rudimentary origins of bitters. Exotic (and undocumented) roots, herbs and spices were aged in various liquids and beneficial (and unverified) claims attached to them. Hence, crude. Our crude moniker does not reflect our methods.” There’s the unintentional double entendre of “Craig Rudewicz…C. Rude.”

Crude’s small-batch bitters feature clever twists to delight your palate and harken back to the glory days of cocktailing. While it seems the cocktail is making a comeback, for some its allure never left. Crude’s small-batch concoctions all have fantastic monikers like Bitterless Marriage, blending hibiscus, lavender, and oak. I’m partial to the soda Zerbert!, mostly because when my boys were little I used to give them a noisy, wet belly kiss I called a zerbert. I assure you, Crude’s versions involves no belly kissing; it’s a lemon-cucumber soda made with dandelion and a quick ‘zerbert!’ of jalapeno.

Craig, a former bartender, says that bitters are misunderstood so he aspires to make them relevant again and show consumers how to add a delicious drop to add punch to your home cocktails. He’s out to dispel myths about bitters as being fancy and unnecessary or just plain gross snake oil to cure all that ails you. Crude’s flavors add a remarkable depth of flavor to a simple gin and tonic or whiskey on ice. What strikes me about Craig’s outlook is that he wants to entertain people and focus on simplicity. He values craftsmanship and quality ingredients (no HFCS, fake colors, glycerin, or chemicals). Above all, it’s about enjoying a good time shared with friends. That pretty much sum up my 5:00 Fridays philosophy too.

Hint: You might want to stock up on some Crude bitters before the weekend. Buy online or find it at various North Carolina establishments. You can order your favorite cocktail with a dose of Crude bitters at local restaurants like Remedy Diner, 18 Seaboard, and Fiction Kitchen.

Crude is about to open its own production facility on West Cabarrus Street in Raleigh’s blossoming warehouse district. There will eventually be a tasting bar, cocktail supply retail shop, and soda fountain. It’s slated to open soon so stay tuned. 

Hmmm…now how can I get on Craig’s holiday gift list?

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