Ethan Hall moved to D.C. in 2011. While working a few white collar jobs, he was constantly constantly cooking, making drinks and taking a DIY approach to a lot of things, including cocktail bitters. This, along with a desire to create something new and different led him to start Embitterment Bitters in 2014. Operating out of Union Kitchen, the food industry startup produces high-quality, handcrafted aromatic products designed for both serious mixologists and casual, at-home bartenders. Find out what Ethan is up to when he’s not mixing it up:
What’s a typical day for you?
At least during the week, a typical day for me involves a lot of juggling; In my 9-5 job, I function as a product development manager for a healthcare technology company. There is actually quite a lot of overlap with my side business. I am constantly evaluating opportunities to launch new products, assess the market opportunity and try to make something profitable and innovative. Luckily, my role is flexible and I am able to travel to Union Kitchen to produce bitters, make deliveries, and meet with customers during the week. In a traditional workplace, this would be nearly impossible. Producing bitters is not incredibly resource intensive, so my co-owners and I have been able to fit almost everything we do into Saturdays and Sundays.
What or who is your biggest influence?
I will have to be cliche and tell you it’s my parents, especially my dad. He teaches philosophy, so I grew up in an environment where arguments, in the intellectual sense, and asking way too many questions, were encouraged all the time. On top of that, I was learning to cook from a very young age, and that is all thanks to my mom. Developing those skills in the kitchen ultimately led to the recipe development that goes into our bitters business.
I live in Petworth, just off the Georgia Ave. Metro
What is your biggest DC pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve/frustration is with the unreliability of our public transit system. It is difficult to be agile and responsive while running a business if you are sitting on a Metro platform waiting for 20 minutes. I hope that the newly-formed rider’s union can make an impact on this. (http://wmataru.org/)
Favorite music artist of all time?
Favorite DC haunt?
This is a tie between my neighborhood watering holes where I live now and where I used to be. Right now, it is the Petworth Citizen; one of the best happy hours in the city. Before that it was the Argonaut. That bar plays a huge role in anchoring the H Street corridor
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
This is a two-way tie between watching football with my friends and exploring different parts of the city on foot without a set agenda. Walking is very relaxing for me and if I can also stop in to a few different bars for a cocktail and a small plate of something, even better.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you couldn’t be a…, what would you be?
If I couldn’t do all of the things I am doing now, I would love to try my hand at carpentry. When your house contains as much Ikea furniture as mine does, you begin to wonder what it’s like to have well-constructed furniture.
Top three favorite movies?
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Name five people, alive or dead, you’d love to invite to a dinner party Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Murray, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario), Elon Musk, Joe Biden
Most embarrassing moment?
There are a number of awkward or embarrassing incidents that may take the top prize, so I’ll go with one from childhood that’s reader-appropriate. I remember when I was maybe 9 years old, I was trying to reach a bottle of chocolate syrup that was high up in a cabinet. Of course, this involved some climbing, and just as I had reached the syrup, I lost my footing, fell to the ground and ended up covered in chocolate syrup. It looked like I was trying to make a classic horror film. For the next several months, my family referred to me as ‘Willy Wonka.’