A Bayport couple plans to open a distillery in downtown Patchogue this summer, joining a wave of craft breweries in the resurgent village.
Anthony and Laurie Grupposo plan to build Bitter Man Distilling Co. in a 6,000-square-foot former auto repair shop at 147 West Ave. The $2 million distillery will include a tasting area with a small food menu, and tours will be offered on weekends.
Anthony Grupposo, a freelance sports photographer whose work has appeared in USA Today, said the distillery will offer a range of vodkas and gins. He plans to offer whiskey and bourbon later, after they have aged properly.
“People who are into craft spirits will seek out the distilleries,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “There’s something about watching something go from grain to bottle that’s special to some people.”
Grupposo said his distillery’s name was inspired by his daughter Abigail, 22, who once asked him to make her a Cosmo, “instead of one of those bitter man drinks.”
He said the business would open in late summer with a staff of four. He plans to increase staff to about 20 in five years, including bartenders, salespeople and manufacturers.
“Our goal here is to establish this as a national brand,” Grupposo said.
Bitter Man will join a growing roster of bars, restaurants and breweries that have helped rejuvenate Patchogue in recent years. Patchogue-based Blue Point Brewing Co. has announced plans to open a new brewery on West Main Street next year.
Mayor Paul Pontieri said he hopes Bitter Man helps attract more people to the village’s downtown business district.
“It’s probably, in its own way, a better use than an auto repair shop,” Pontieri said. “It’s a step up from what it was.”
Anthony Grupposo said Bitter Man will use locally-grown winter wheat and red wheat. Both wheats typically are used by farms as winter ground cover before being thrown out, he said. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has touted development of distilleries as a way of supporting local farms.
Rob Carpenter, administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau in Calverton, said the group supports distilleries that use local farm products.
“It’s not going to solve the problem of preserving every farm, but it’s another avenue that farms can use to utilize their products in order to save their business,” he said.
Grupposo, who said he is in his mid-50s, said the distillery is his way of converting a hobby to an occupation.
“It’s been a passion for us for many years,” he said. “I’m looking for that great old-man career.”