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Homemade Bitters + Nitrogen Cavitation = ??

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7 replies to this topic

#1 cschweda

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:27 AM

After reading -- and rereading the 'Bitters' book and finding G. Regan's orange bitters #5 recipe via the web -- I'm about to embark on several batches of bitters (and several barrel aged cocktails with the bitters.) My plan is start with a hoppy grapefruit and then a whiskey infused coffee/pecan mixture.

My background is brewing, so I'm familiar with aging with oak (in my case, toasted oak spirals suspended in the 5gallon fermenters) -- but I'm interested in combining homemade bitters with the idea of nitrogen cavitation via the ISI soda siphons -- and perhaps using bits of oak in the siphon to add a bit of character.

Has anyone tried to speed up the bitter-making process with nitrogen caviation? Would it be a way to create an on-the-spot bitter (perhaps with a bit of whiskey soaked charred oak in the siphon canister)? Or would the siphon provide merely a good snapshot of the potential flavor combination -- with the need to still age the bitters the traditional homebrew way via mason jars and cheesecloth and gunk skimming?

Any results or suggestions about what to avoid? I've been sourcing the herbs and barks -- cinchona, quassia, etc. -- and have a nice collection of potential bitter making ingredients (minus the grain alcohol which has been surprisingly hard to purchase in the several liquor stores I've been to.)

I realize there's another thread on bitters -- I've read most of it -- but I'm still curious about the impact of nitrogen cavitation on the whole process.

EDIT -- I've also used Polyscience's smoking gun to good effect (applewood smoke/homemade bacon/Redemption rye) in the soda siphon. Perhaps this is better than actual charred chips?

I know -- I should try it and see what happens -- but I thought I'd throw it out and see if anyone else has given this a try with bitters.

Edited by cschweda, 01 November 2012 - 09:34 AM.


#2 cschweda

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:03 AM

No responses -- okay -- but I also throw this article into the mix:

http://tmagazine.blo...ngo-limoncello/

I wonder if something like this -- suspending the citrus solids above the infused liquid? And then maybe topping off with a siphon infusion?

I don't know. I'm throwing things out -- thinking about methods.

Edited by cschweda, 02 November 2012 - 08:12 AM.


#3 Baselerd

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 11:30 AM

I think the only significant difference will be the time required, but I could be wrong. The Modernist Cuisine alludes to Nils Noren and Dave Arnold developing the technique of speed alcohol infusion with a siphon, but mentions that it does not develop as many "flavor layers" as longer extractions with standard techniques.

#4 cschweda

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 12:56 PM

I went ahead and created an initial batch: licorice root, cinchona bark, star anise, cloves, cracked white pepper, cracked cardamom, cassia, quassia, gentian, cinnamon stick, grated orange peel (from jar), and a couple of fresh orange peels. No exact measurements -- a little bit of everything and hopefully not too much -- and then combined everything in a small mason jar and then poured in half a bottle of Everclear. (Thank goodness for Whole Foods and Amazon Prime. I've got enough barks and herbs for probably 100 more batches.)

What's interesting is that after only 24 hours the smell is amazing: it's got a nose of light citrus and heavy licorice with a faint smell of cinnamon -- but very clean, very snappy. I used liquid gentian -- a dropper full -- from a dropper bottle (as opposed, I guess, to the bark itself) -- and, wow, that's one bitter liquid. I assume this should cut through some of the licorice/citrusy flavor to give it some contrasting flavor layers. I tried to taste tiny amounts of each herb as I added it to get a sense of the different components. I realize, too, that the trick here is to make tinctures of each item -- and then combine the liquids -- but I've determined that's intermediate level bitters making -- a project for the upcoming winter. I just want something I can use in my Manhattans (and in my barrel-aged cocktail project -- something I plan to start in a couple weeks once my 3L barrel arrives).

My plan is to keep the batch in the jar -- shaking two or three times a day -- for seven days.

Then -- instead of separating the liquid and solids -- and then infusing water with the solids (and then reducing and then pouring back into the original liquid) -- my plan is pour the entire mason jar -- liquid, solids -- into my isi whipper, infuse with a single cartridge, shake like hell, and then let sit for about five minutes or so. Then I'll expel the nitrogen and cut the mixture with a brown sugar syrup and water to reduce the proof. (Or perhaps I'll carmelize sugar and then mix the sugar 2 to 1 with water. I want to bring an autumnal taste to the batch.) This infusion should really ramp up the flavors in the actual liquor -- and might be more effective than stovetop reducing -- but we shall see.

I suspect I'll experiment here -- balancing the bitter and sweet and not making it too hot proof-wise. Will post results in about a week.

Edited by cschweda, 07 November 2012 - 01:08 PM.


#5 slkinsey

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 01:31 PM

What's the point of infusing it "regular" for 7 days and then doing the nitrogen cavitation technique? The whole point of nitrogen cavitation is to do rapid infusions.
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#6 cschweda

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 02:22 PM

What's the point of infusing it "regular" for 7 days and then doing the nitrogen cavitation technique? The whole point of nitrogen cavitation is to do rapid infusions.


Good point. My thinking was to use the nitro infusion to skip the water + solids/reduction step -- but maybe I should just infuse it now -- skipping the whole seven day sitting period? Just infuse, discard the solids, then add the sugar syrup and water.

Hmmm.

Edited by cschweda, 07 November 2012 - 02:24 PM.


#7 cschweda

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:28 AM

As a follow-up, I did the caviation with the mixture -- rapid infusing the solids and Everclear -- and it seemed to work great. What I know have is an intensely aromatic mixture that smells of cinnamon and anise. I poured in a 2:1 sugar syrup, stirred, let sit for a couple minutes, then separated the solids from the liquid with a french press.

Wow -- very impressive. I've got a pint and a half's worth of house bitters. My first taste test was with soda water -- a way (for me, at least) to compare to some of the other bitters I have in my cabinet (Fee Brothers, Bittermen's, etc.) Verdict: very nice -- and probably still too bitter but aromatic as hell: a layer of citrus followed by what seems to be a 50/50 mix of cinnamon/allspice and anise. More complex than I expected -- but, as I say, a bit too bitter. Will cut with brown sugar and water later this evening. Next test was in a Manhattan: 2 oz. Buffalo Trace / 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth / home-marinated cherry (marinated in Luxardo Marischino) / and three dashes of the homemade bitters. Result: very different than I expected -- the homemade bitters add a twang -- citrus, almost chocolate in the drink.

Obviously, my methods are a bit wonky -- and I'm no expert at any of this -- but I suspect I can reduce the time to make the bitters considerably. The isi whipper most definitely speeds up the infusion process.

Next test is going to be on-the-spot bitters: Everclear / cocoa nibs / star anise / gentian / cassia / and a tiny bit of sugar syrup.

As an aside, I took some of the cinchona bark powder I had -- combined with with citric acid, fresh lemongrass, and a couple of orange and lime peels -- and rapid infused 500ml of St George's gin. Infused for two minutes. Bingo -- quinine infused gin. Made a G&T with tiny (very small) pour of agave syrup, juice from a lime, muddled basil, and the cinchona infused gin. Added a few ounces of soda water. Result? One of the best G&T's I've had.

Edited by cschweda, 08 November 2012 - 08:52 AM.


#8 Keith Orr

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 03:35 PM

My background is brewing, so I'm familiar with aging with oak (in my case, toasted oak spirals suspended in the 5gallon fermenters) -- but I'm interested in combining homemade bitters with the idea of nitrogen cavitation via the ISI soda siphons -- and perhaps using bits of oak in the siphon to add a bit of character.


There's a big difference between infusing with oak in a glass fermenter and aging in an oak barrel. The infusion will give you oak flavors but none of the other benefits of aging in a barrel.

I'm not even sure that most bitters would benefit from aging in a barrel though.





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