Two women have raised more than $16,000 to take their cricket-infused bitters operation out of a Bushwick apartment and into the mainstream with a product they hope will become the “gateway” to eating insects.
Lucy Knops and Julia Plevin, have been whipping up small batches of Critter Bitters’ two flavors — Pure Cricket Tincture and Toasted Cricket Bitters — since teaming up while in the graduate Products of Design program at the School of Visual Arts in fall 2013.
The project was inspired by a 2013 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, which suggested eating insects as a solution to the growing world population and food shortage.
Knops and Plevin, who have both sampled insects while traveling in Mexico City and through Asia, said they don’t regularly eat insects, but the bitters have changed the way they feel about consuming critters, and hope it will have the same effect on others.
“We talk about this as a gateway, and it’s about creating conversation,” said Plevin, who has since moved back to her native California. “You can get cricket tacos in New York City, but it’s still very rare. It’s about getting people excited about having a drink with cricket bitters, then maybe trying cricket canapes.”
Right now, Knops, who is also a bartender, is whipping up the bitters in her Bushwick apartment. Critter Bitters uses a Texas distributor for the pre-roasted, food-grade insects. They are not aware of any local cricket suppliers, but said there is a movement toward eating insects, as well as kits that help you raise your own crickets.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see rooftop cricket farms before too long,” Knops said.
The campaign wraps up on Nov. 21, and Knops and Plevin are hoping to raise a total of $21,000 to get into an FDA-approved kitchen, buy material in bulk and work on packaging. Those who donate will receive a pre-order batch of the bitters.
The product is not yet available for purchase because of regulation on both the alcohol and insect side of the recipe.
“We also want people to find out how awesome they taste,” Plevin said, adding mixologists will likely be excited by the sweet nutty and vanilla notes.
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