Featured photo: A bartender makes drinks at Bitters Social House (courtesy photo)
The bar at Bitters Social House is small for a reason.
“We don’t want you to stay there and talk to us all night,” says co-owner Jocelyn Moon.
It’s the same reason why there aren’t any TVs in the space.
“Our goal is for people to come and have conversations with each other,” she says. “We don’t want phones out; we want it to be a place for people to be social.”
Homey, comfy, cozy. Like you’re in your friend’s living room kind of vibe.
One step inside the new barroom on State Street tells customers that it’s not quite like any other cocktail business in Greensboro.
Set up in an old house, visitors are almost immediately met with stairs that lead up to the second floor. Rooms branch off to the left and right, with the latter leading to the aforementioned bar. Small nooks and coves exist throughout the space, including a tiny patio in front of the house that seats about a dozen people. It’s not dark; it’s bright. The music is quiet; there’s no fancy accoutrement or noisy decoration. It’s relaxed.
“We want it to be a place where you don’t have to talk over the music,” Moon says. “There’s no screaming at people.”
The business has been open for just a few months after it cut its ribbon back in August. But the dream of owning a spot like Bitters isn’t new.
Moon and her boyfriend, Brian Hand, who also co-owns the business, live up the street from State Street and have watched the district grow in terms of foot traffic. In the last several years, other drinking establishments like Bull City Ciderworks and State Street Wine Company have made the area an alternative choice to downtown for those who want to hang out. When the State Street Social District opened last year, they talked about how nice it would be to have a cocktail bar in the area.
That’s when they noticed that the quaint, storybook white house next to Mizumi Sushi was for rent.
“It was just kind of serendipitous,” Moon says.
Prior to becoming Bitters, the building housed an art gallery, a fine-dining restaurant and even apartments. In this newest iteration, Moon says they’re trying to use the unique space to their advantage.
“The house we’re in has so much character,” she says.
Most of the downstairs is taken up by tables and seating that allows for intimate conversations; no overcrowding here. The upstairs has additional seating and can be reserved for free in advance.
“If you don’t want to host, why don’t you let us host?” Moon says.
In addition to being a cocktail bar, Bitters sells a wide range of cocktail-making essentials like bitters and syrups. Part of the reason for selling products is because the building is zoned for retail, Moon says. But the other reason stems from her own experience not being able to find products during the pandemic when she was making cocktails at home, Moon says.
“I was looking for bitters and I couldn’t find any anywhere,” she says. “I went to three different stores.”
Now, Bitters sells mostly NC-based products so others don’t run into the same issue. Offerings include shrubs from Wilmington and bitters from Raleigh. They also sell tonics out of Shelby.
“If we’re going to be a small business, I want to support other small local businesses,” Moon explains. “Plus, North Carolina makes a lot of great products; why not carry them?”
And it’s not just for home bartenders, Moon says.
She wants to be the one-stop shop for all bars in the area if they run out of things they need.
“We want to be the resource for other cocktail bars and for people who want to make drinks at home,” she says.
To help foster passion for cocktail making, Bitters also hosts classes every month or so. They also partner with shops like chocolate-maker Rhyme and Reason on State Street to do food and cocktail pairings. That’s something Moon wants to do more of.
“We’re open to all things,” she says. “But we definitely want to keep it local.”
As the business grows and they add more events to their calendar, Moon hopes that Bitters can become the kind of place anyone can come to for a cocktail.
They offer mocktails and even have $9 cocktail days.
“We’re not divey; we’re not kitschy,” she says. “We’re a little more upscale, but also not so bougie that the average person is going to walk in and feel uncomfortable…. It just has a different vibe than any other place in Greensboro.”
Learn more about Bitters Social House at bitterssocial.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
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