Kaleena Goldsworthy-Warnock describes creating The Bitter Bottle and the impact it has had on the community
Photo Credit to Taylor English Photography
The culinary world of Chattanooga is heavily characterized by the many amazing local breweries and bars across the city. Few cities of our size can rival the diverse scene here for everything drink related and that scene is only getting bigger and better. One of the newest arrivals to the scene though, not just for Chattanooga but for all of Tennessee, is The Bitter Bottle by Kaleena Goldsworthy-Warnock.
Kaleena first moved to Chattanooga in 2013 to be a part of the opening of Flying Squirrel. She worked as a bartender there and used it as an opportunity to learn everything that she could about alcohol and the preparation of drinks.
“I unintentionally ended up learning so much more than I expected to and becoming a bit of an expert,” She said.
She would continue with these studies and began to specialize in the history behind cocktails. This led her to learn that many modern alcoholic drinks actually are based on herbology and medicinal practices. Kaleena wanted to learn about this often forgotten part of the alcohol world and soon she began working on farms, applying for bartending programs, and even traveling to prestigious institutions like the Irish Whiskey Academy and the Absolut Vodka Academy.
“I wanted to bring back the more natural and medicinal uses for alcohol. That’s what led me to Bitters.”
Kaleena merged her knowledge of herbology and the natural world with her experience in the alcohol industry to create a business entirely based on the production of high-quality bitters. Thus, The Bitter Bottle was born in 2018.
“I felt almost like an alchemist or a witch,” Kaleena said in regards to when she first started out. “I was always buying foreign herbs and experimenting with them.”
Bitter Bottle is the first Bitters based company ever in Tennessee. While the idea of being the first was exciting for Kaleena, it also came with many hurdles. She had to push for changes to be made to legislation involving the sale and production of alcohol that ended up impacting the alcohol industry for the entire State!
“I probably emailed the FDA daily. It reached a point where they had to tell me to stop contacting them.”
Her persistence worked though and today Bitter Bottle is starting to make a huge impact on the local brewing scene. In the first two months of establishing The Bitter Bottle, it sold more than 200 bottles of Bitters just from pop-up events across Chattanooga.
“I do everything for the business myself,” Kaleena explained. “A big part of how I am able to promote Bitter Bottle is by partnering with other local breweries.”
These partnerships have led many breweries across the Chattanooga area to begin carrying her products. Bitter Bottle is even beginning to expand far beyond our area, with a brewery in the Chicago area recently deciding to partner with Kaleena.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the company has gone entirely online. Kaleena says that she has been using quarantine as a way to both learn and teach. She has been partnering with The Chattery to do online classes during this time and making sure to stay active in the community.
“I want to take Bitter Bottle as far as it can go. My dream is to see it go global and be in the best bars in the world, while also focusing on local agriculture and quality products.”