Joe Raya


Years of Participation

2013-2019, 2023

Joe Raya
Owner of Bitterrrmilk, Tippleman’s, Barcoop Bevy and Drinkmanship

Joe fostered his love for food and beverage at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he met his wife MariElena. After graduation, Joe began his career managing restaurants in Palm Beach, FL. In 2005, MariElena’s Charleston roots brought the couple to the area to run the legendary Robert’s of Charleston restaurant owned and operated by her father for over 36 years.

Joe earned the esteemed Diploma in Wine and Sprits with the WSET in London in 2009 and began teaching intermediate and advanced levels of the WSET. Joe also taught beverage management classes for The Art Institute of Charleston and was the beverage contributor to The Charleston Mercury.

With his knowledge of all things beverage, he and his wife opened The Gin Joint in 2010 in Charleston serving pre-prohibition style cocktails gaining attention from national media as the first craft cocktail bar in Charleston.

After several years of honing ideas and tweaking recipes while behind the bar, Bittermilk cocktail mixers came to market in 2013. Since then, it has won Garden & Gun’s Made in the South Awards and has been featured in Southern Living and Wall Street Journal. It can be found in every state and several countries and has become a staple in many cocktail enthusiasts’ home bars.

Bittermilk has opened the doors for several other lines of products as well as private labelling for companies like St. Augustine Distillery and Pappy and Co as well as collaborative projects with breweries, wineries and distilleries across the country.

Bittermilk was followed by Tippleman’s line of not so simple syrups in 2015, and Barcoop Bevy all natural cocktail mixers in 2017. His newest venture is Drinkmanship a line of ready to drink cocktails where he is distilling his own gin and using it to can classic cocktails with a twist. Three flavors, Tropical Negroni, Passionfruit and Elderflower Gin Fizz, and Thai Basil Swizzle hit the shelves August 2022.