Interview with Little Bitte

ARTIST INTERVIEW

Willa Van Nostrand of Little Bitte Cocktails

NOVEMBER 5, 2018


Chattman Photography

We want to have a drink with Willa Van Nostrand, especially if she’s the one making the drink. Mixologist,  owner of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, singer/ songwriter, art curator, and infusively charming company, Willa is the total package. Okay, the total dream. We Insta-stalked her beautifully curated delicious photos (not to mention that topknot of hers) for about a year before calling her up and asking her to host a workshop at Ode. We met up in Quonquont orchard, where we got to play dress up and traipse around with Willa, eating apples whilst sipping her mango margarita. Even listening to her describe a drink will make your mouth water. Here’s a little sneak “sip” of what’s in store for our “Guide to Gatherings” workshop at Ode, this Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-8pm. Foodie-Guru Victoria  Accardi will accompany Willa with cheese and sweet bites. There are a few spots still open, so give us a call or stop by the boutique to sign up! Cheers!

How did you get your start in bartending and mixology?
I grew up on a small herb farm in Massachusetts with my mom, a midwife & herbalist—and my dad, a minister & bartender. I’ve always been pretty obsessed with food, so beverage was a natural extension.  I worked in a bunch of bars through my late teens and early 20s, but really found my niche living in Italy for a year when I was working with cordials and Amari like Campari, Aperol, and Fernet Branca. Even when I was working at the family dive bar, I’d bring in my own edible blossom bouquets to garnish cocktails. Folks would start requesting the drinks I made for them, and that’s how the business was born.  Before I knew it, I was doing a bunch of parties and weddings and shopping for insurance. Business, how romantic!

Describe the perfect sip:
The perfect sip is clean, sumptuously tart
and leaves you wanting another sip.
The perfect sip is insatiable.
The perfect sip is usually Champagne,
generally a very dry margarita,
and most often: a flute of sparkling rosé.
On friday nights, it’s a dirty martini with fancy queen olives,
in Italy, a spritz,
a voluptuous red wine.
Cognac, forever– aged off the vine.

What’s your spirit cocktail?
If mezcal is my spirit “spirit, ” then The Division Bell is my spirit cocktail (Mezcal, fresh lime, Aperol, maraschino cherry liqueur) for its astringency, appetizing pop of color, light bitterness, and smoke. It reminds me that I’m alive and every breath, sip and bite matters.

On top of being a business owner and expert mixologist, you are a singer in a band. What’s the music/style? Who’s in your band? Where can we see you perform?
Ah, Singing! My first love. I make my own music as Willa Van Nostrand and I’m in a band “The Van Nostrand Sisters” with my Sister Glenna and her partner, Ken Linehan, who’s fabulous. There’s an ever-evolving cast of characters, but it’s most minimally the 3 of us on stage. We make folk music, I write most of the songs and the band gives them life! Lots of harmonies, and our voices do that magic sister thing that sisters can do: very sweet, goofy, upbeat, folky? Dare I say, country? We dance around a lot and wear vintage dresses and costumes. We are working on recording our album and we don’t have any shows booked currently because we’re not letting ourselves play out until we finish the album. We usually play small clubs & venues, folk festivals, friends house shows in the woods, art spaces…. You get the idea. We love playing so if you have something in mind, don’t be a stranger. Record’s almost done!

Hold on, you have an art gallery? Explain!
Yes! I own a small storefront gallery called World’s Fair Gallery at 268 Broadway in Providence. We opened in 2010 as a site-specific gallery, and now we’re at home on Broadway. We curate shows inspired by taste, gustatory and aesthetic. For each show, we pair 2D & 3D artists with folks who make ceramics or handblown glass vessels. For the opening reception of each show, we pop-up and make cocktails that were designed for the artwork and the glassware. This business model works in a way that I can travel and install art pop-ups and bars in galleries and art fairs. I am really excited about World’s Fair and can’t wait to share more artwork, beautiful vessels and beverages with the world.

Best moment from a wedding:
Last summer we worked this insanely gorgeous wedding out near the beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island. The whole thing was romantic and candlelit with colorful lanterns hanging from the trees. After we broke down the bar, we were standing around having a shift drink and we all let our hair down (you know, the ‘Bitte bun’ up-do has to come down sometime). We looked like a group of mermaids on the lawn. The groomsmen called to us from the dance floor á la Romeo up to Juliet’s window: “Angels, sweet women, where have you been? It’s time to dance!”
I melted a little, we giggled a lot, and then got out of there as quickly as we could because we knew better! We had to bail before the midsummer night’s dream enchanted us all.

I also cried last week at a cranberry bog during the bride and groom’s first dance at sunset. Does that count? I end up crying at a lot of the weddings that I work because they’re so beautiful and touching. Once you work with a couple on their wedding for a year, you can get pretty emotionally attached.

Shaken or stirred?
Stirred! It’s traditional to stir a martini. “Stir spirits with vermouth, shake juice!”
But I say, if you’re the one drinking it — do whatever you want!
If you ask me to make you a cosmo, I’ll make you a damn good cosmo.
If you ask me to shake your martini, I’ll shake the living daylights out of it.
That’s what hospitality is about.

If you could have a drink anywhere with any one person, where and with whom would that be?
I’d have a cigar and a glass of Cognac with Gertrude Stein in Paris during her Expat salon years.

What’s the “garden” element of your tagline “craft cocktails from garden to glass in New England”?
All of our edible blossoms and fresh botanicals are organically grown, local or sustainably sourced. For the first 5 years of Little Bitte, my mom and I grew all of our botanicals. Now, we source our blossoms, fruit, and herbs from about 25 local growers.

Favorite toast?
To high winds and mermaids!

What’s essential for the perfect gathering?
Making your guests feel comfortable. Good lighting, enough food and drink for your guests, and their friends you didn’t know they were bringing along.
And ice! 2-3 pounds per guest to be specific.

Little Bitte Featured in Vogue!

Why Providence, Rhode Island, Should Be Your Next Weekend Getaway

For now, I bounce from coast to coast, but I plan to die in Providence. I was student at the Rhode Island School of Design more than a decade ago, and the magic of that jewel-box of a city still pulls on my heartstrings. It’s the Victorian homes, industrial buildings, the charmingly gruff New England personalities, and concentration of Italian American markets that have kept me coming back. The town is divided by the Providence river, separating the posh, College Hill area to its east, and the grittier, fast-developing downtown, Olneyville, Federal Hill, and Atwells to the west. Most tourists will cling to the picturesque, colonial Benefit street, with its gas lamps and pristine mansions, but that’s only a tiny sliver of what the city has to offer. This place has chutzpah. It’s the blue collar dive bar and the Ivy League, it’s Mayflower meets crust punk. What other city’s most beloved mayor was a convicted felon and the face of a popular line of packaged red sauce? R.I.P Buddy Cianci…..

…. For smaller grassroots galleries, World’s Fair Gallery is a tiny storefront next to the Columbus Theater that mounts thoughtful shows with local artists. It’s run by the owners of Little Bitte cocktails, a craft cocktail company that often pops up around town.

Full Article Here

WE’RE SO EXCITED!!!

❤ Little Bitte

 

Happy Saint Patty’s Day!

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Photo by Angel Tucker

Bitte Irish Cream

12 oz Irish whiskey

3 oz crème de cocoa

8 oz organic cream

5 oz espresso (or very strong coffee)

2 oz local honey

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Fresh mint to garnish

Preparation: Gather all of your ingredients. Dissolve honey in espresso, pour into a large clean bottle (liter), add Irish whiskey, cream, crème de cocoa and vanilla in a large sealable clean glass bottle or jar, shake until solution is mixed throughly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. 

Serve: On the rocks or shaken over ice and poured onto fresh rocks & garnish with mint sprig.  Yields 10 servings. Cheers!

❤ Little Bitte

Little Bitte Featured on Green Wedding Shoes!

 

artistsstudio-wedding-2123916354_10155243011617532_1996003764807283790_oView More: http://emilydelamater.pass.us/artiststudio

See the full shoot & story here

photography: Emily Delamater Photography // event design: One & Supp // planning: Brita Olsen Creative // florals: One & Supp // wedding dress: Gossamer Vintage // hairpiece: LBDA Brooklyn // bride’s shoes: Rachel Comey // bride’s ring: Erica Weiner // getting ready robes: Stevie Howell and Cara Marie Piazza // hair stylist: Jessa Blades // makeup artist: Jessa Blades // paper goods: Priscilla Weildein // cake: Seabiscuit Bakery // art direction: Brita Olsen Creative // styling + hair crowns: Sara Moffat, LDBA // food styling: Emily Seymour // cocktails: Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails // letterpress: DWRI Letterpress // cermaics: ANK Ceramics // artwork: Gideon Bok // jewelry: Erica Weiner, Ursa Major, Judith

Little Bitte

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bitte at PVDFest!

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Little Bitte Bar Schedule

Were winding up for a big weekend here in lil’ Rhody and we’re hoping you’ll make it to one of our bars this weekend! Try a festival spritz or a mocktail & say hello! 

June 1st 5-7PM  | THE COMMUNITY TABLE

Join us in Kennedy Plaza on Washington Street for a 300 seat dinner that’s free + open to the public. Well break bread and share stories.

June 3rd | 4-10PM | Little Bitte PVDFest VIP BAR @ Burnside Park 

Featuring our signature festival cocktail, the PVD Spritz, a fresh & fabulous Margarita +  smoky mezcal & bourbon cocktails that will certainly put a pep in your step!

(Complimentary Wine + Whalers Brewing Beer on tap!)

June 4th 1-8PM |The PVDFest Finale

The PVDFest Finale at Armory Park between Cranston Street + Parade Street!!! Come find us in our neck of the woods  for a famous ‘Lime in the Coconut’ or a Signature Paloma with silver tequila + grapefruit!

What to know about #PVDFest

PVDFest showcases performers from around the country and all over the globe, including some of the biggest stars in world music. This year alone features musicians, dancers, and performance artists from Harlem, Miami, Detroit, Oakland, East LA, Montreal, Trinidad, and Honduras. Of course, there is no shortage of talent here in our own backyard, and many local performers will be sharing the stage with the national and international talent. Catch some of the highlights on the PVDFest Blog

❤ Little Bitte

This Aperol Cocktail is Perfect for Spring!

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The Aperature – a cocktail made from Aperol, gin, and blood oranges – helps usher in spring while saying goodbye to citrus season.

In my early twenties, I lived in Florence for a year on a street called Via degli Artisti with a wonderful painter named Fiorella, a sandy blonde with a scratchy voice and a deep affection for card games, rum, and cigars. We were a 10-minute ride on our rusty bicycles from the heart of city, and a brisk five-minute walk from the main market near Santa Maria Novella. The first warm sunny days of spring always remind me of Fiorella and how she would wake up each morning, fling open the kitchen doors, and step onto our tiny terrazza to water the scented geraniums on the railing. She’d come back into the kitchen and fresh squeeze two glasses of blood orange juice by hand, one for each of us.

The fruits Fiorella juiced were called Moro oranges. Grown in Sicily, they tasted more like fresh raspberries than any kind of orange I had ever tasted, with flesh ranging from deep orange to dark burgundy. I lived for these oranges and those mornings when Fiorella made me sit down with her for breakfast.

As I wait here at home for the flora of the season to pop, I scan my imagination for ways to conjure spring. I keep a keen eye on the oily green rhubarb leaves peeking out of the soil in my raised bed. I visit the micro clusters of lemon balm daily – but it’s still too soon to pick it. And the asparagus nowhere in sight. And so I find solace in fresh oranges at this time of year – so sweet and so abundant – though I know that the harvest must be on its last legs. Clementines and minneolas will slowly but surely trickle out of season, soon to be replaced with the awe of artichokes, fiddleheads, and fresh nettles.


One of my favorite epiphanies from my time in Florence came in the form of a cocktail. I call it the Aperture, as it’s proverbial widening of the lens, if you will. It’s a marriage of two of my favorite classic drinks, the Aperol spritz (a quaffable mix of the bitter aperitif, prosecco, and soda water) and the Negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth). Every café in Florence serves their own version of a Negroni during aperitivo (cocktail hour), complemented by a bowl of olives or nuts, or sometimes a bigger spread of cured meats, cheese, and crostini topped with anything from fresh seafood to tiny slices of hotdog. (During aperitivo, anything is possible.)3-blood-orange..jpg

The Aperture’s soft, fruity notes come from the blood orange juice, which adds a lush texture and depth to the spritz, mellowing any sharp edges from the gin and fortifying the citrusy notes of the Aperol….

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The Aperture Recipe

❤ Little Bitte

For Fiorella, my Italian queen.