Scot Mattox considers bitters to be the true backbone of a cocktail. “When you think of food, if you don't put salt and pepper or other seasonings, it tastes flat -- one-dimensional,” he said. “That's the function bitters serve in a cocktail.” This philosophy speaks to Mattox’s creation of El Guapo Bitters.
For Mattox, it began as a passion project to recreate the original style of bitters used in Manhattan cocktails, right down to the aroma and flavor nuances. While bartending at the heralded but now-shuttered French Quarter restaurant Iris, the Marine Corps veteran began toying around with the idea of making a bespoke line of bitters. Through many years of trial and error trying to perfect a Manhattan bitters recipe, he began developing other unique tinctures, pushing for exceptional flavors that would properly represent the culture, food and aura of New Orleans.
El Guapo (which means “the handsome” in Spanish -- the moniker Mattox picked up during his military service with the Marines) was officially born in 2013. Since then, the bitters brand has been very successful both at home and internationally, with distribution in specialty shops throughout New Orleans at select Whole Foods locations, to as far as Australia and New Zealand.
Mattox said he remains inspired by New Orleans and keeps quality top of mind. Approaching bitter and syrup development with the mentality of a chef, he relies heavily on the surrounding area for local fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables to extract their unadulterated flavor profiles.
“Creation of new flavors is an intensive process that takes time to get things just right,” Mattox said. “We only use whole ingredients. No extracts, no essential oils and no artificial flavorings are added to any of our products. Our primary source is Hollygrove Market and Farm, and in addition to what they grow they source from local farms with 150 miles of New Orleans."