Little Bitte (pronounced Little Bit-uh) Artisinal Catering is a garden-to-glass cocktail company that specializes in creating signature cocktail bars for parties and events. I recently spoke with Willa Van Nostrand, who founded the company in 2010, and we talked about travel, future plans and of course, flowers!
Melanie Bertoldi: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Willa Van Nostrand: I’ve always been obsessed with food, drink and flowers. I began bartending as a teenager and saw that there was so much more potential in making drinks than serving the old standbys. My mom’s an herbalist and I used to bring edible blossom bouquets from my garden to work and make experimental cocktails for some guests. I noticed a niche in the bar market that went hand-in-hand with the blossoming farm-to-table movement, and our “garden to glass” vision was underway.
MB: What are your signature cocktails?
WVN: I love cocktails with fresh fruit and bitters. I make a mean spicy mezcal margarita. Our best sellers are the Brosé, a lavender spritz with blueberry and honey, and The New Fashioned, a spin on a Manhattan that incorporates our infused vermouth and bitters.
MB: What were the largest and smallest events that you’ve worked recently?
WVN: The largest event we’ve worked recently is WaterFire. We have two bars along the river. The smallest event was an anniversary tasting for this sweet couple who wanted to discover their favorite signature cocktails together. It was a boisterous, workshop-style evening. We tasted each spirit and mixed it with their favorite cordials. In the fall and spring, I love to do small workshops at my space, World’s Fair Gallery at 268 Broadway.
MB: Where do you source your ingredients?
WVN: We source from over New England. I work mostly with Weatherlow Florals in Westport, Mass and Sidewalk Ends Farm (Seekonk and Providence). Until last year, I picked the garnish and edible blossoms for each event. We now have a system where the farmers and I connect the week of an event to discuss what’s growing and what will work in each cocktail. We want the most delicious and in-season ingredients in our cocktails. Most of the folks on my team have either picked garnish for us or have worked on the farms from which we source. Most of our mixologists are artists, musicians and farmers.
MB: What is one short-term goal you have, and one long?
WVN: My short-term goal is to travel more. I love to travel to new places to explore bar culture and fresh ingredients. I’m planning a Mexico trip that I’m pretty excited for. My long-term goal is to host a cocktail show allá Julia Child-meets-Martha Stewart-meets-travel series. I’ve resisted opening a permanent location the entire time I’ve been in business, but I can begin to see it on the horizon. Bitte Bar … doesn’t that sound inviting?