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All About Bitters (Part 2)


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:10 AM

No Angostura at Proof in DC. Who's out where?

 

 

[Moderator note: The original All About Bitters topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the preceding part of this discussion is here: All About Bitters (Part 1)]


Edited by Mjx, 07 December 2013 - 04:20 AM.
Moderator note added.

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#2 evo-lution

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:30 AM

No Angostura at Proof in DC. Who's out where?


I've come into possession of a good few bottles but it seems that there's still a number of areas without bottlings?!? :unsure:
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#3 Kohai

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:46 AM

We've got it back in Minneapolis. Relief! I ordered a case just to be safe.
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#4 Dave the Cook

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:47 AM

The liquor stores I frequent (in Atlanta) have been out of Angostura for several weeks. Luckily, grocery stores still have ample supplies.

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#5 KatieLoeb

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:04 PM

Even the PLCB Wine & Spirit Shops were out for a little while, but a quick look at the website indicates that they're back in stock throughout the Commonwealth. To the collective relief of cocktail imbibers everwhere...

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#6 evo-lution

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:21 PM

To the collective relief of cocktail imbibers everwhere...


Although it was a good thing in my opinion as it increased bartender creativity and created interest in new products from both bartenders and enthusiasts alike in bars/places that only typically had one or two bitters on offer.
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#7 Blether

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 09:30 AM

There's a 19th century recipe for bitters here that are ready in 8 days after you assemble the ingredients.

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#8 Dave the Cook

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 01:53 PM


No Angostura at Proof in DC. Who's out where?


I've come into possession of a good few bottles but it seems that there's still a number of areas without bottlings?!? :unsure:

Last week's Splendid Table featured a piece by Lily Jamali that implied that Angostura supplies will continue to be spotty for quite some time. The factory has been taken over by the government and seems to be in disarray. The clip is worth listening to: Julie Reiner and Dave Wondrich (aka Splificator) make appearances.

Audio here: click (go to 22:41).

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#9 KD1191

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 04:00 PM



No Angostura at Proof in DC. Who's out where?


I've come into possession of a good few bottles but it seems that there's still a number of areas without bottlings?!? :unsure:

Last week's Splendid Table featured a piece by Lily Jamali that implied that Angostura supplies will continue to be spotty for quite some time. The factory has been taken over by the government and seems to be in disarray. The clip is worth listening to: Julie Reiner and Dave Wondrich (aka Splificator) make appearances.

Audio here: click (go to 22:41).


Chicago was out of stock for a couple months, but in the last 2 weeks every store I've visited has come back in stock. Even during the 'drought', large format bottles were available if you knew where to look. As mentioned in the clip, I heard the shortage was due to an issue with the bottle supplier. Perhaps apocryphal, but I was also told that Angostura switched to a new bottle as a result of the issue, and the new container required re-certification by the TTB.
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#10 eas

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:08 AM

In Portland last week I found ample stock at Uptown Liquor and Pearl Specialty. Uptown even had the big bottles for $9.95. It appears there might be a new importer (Chicago-based) which may explain further delays.

The government takeover of Angostura shouldn't concern us too much: the country has a relatively strong sovereign credit rating and this business generates hard currency. Perhaps more interesting will be the eventual privatization...

#11 EdB

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 08:54 AM

No problem currently getting either large or small bottles here in Boston, and local shop owner has said that he's been selling a ton and has placed reorders a couple of times now without a problem. Hopefully the supply will be steady from here on out (I stocked up just in case).

#12 campus five

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 09:36 AM

Hmmm....

http://www.huffingto...g_n_540219.html

#13 EvergreenDan

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:34 AM

I ran out of Fee Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters (2009), and (sniff) couldn't find it locally at The Boston Shaker or the liquor store in Porter Sq, Somerville, MA (which has an excellent bitters selection). I just got my shipment and, I must say, the 2010 version is pretty darn wimpy in the bitter dimension. I'm surprised, because I would think something like bitterness would be well controlled, but other cask-related flavors might be variable. I really liked the 2009 bitters because they imparted noticeable bitterness without having an overpowering spice flavor.
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#14 Chris Amirault

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 10:30 AM

Interesting, Dan. I can't find the 2010 but will compare if I can.

FWIW, a few local grocery stores here in RI are carrying Angostura orange next to their aromatic bitters.
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#15 EvergreenDan

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:50 AM

I ordered from KegWorks.com. It came quickly and well-packed, although my preference is to support my local retailers, especially for more esoteric ingredients.

I also got Fee's Rhubarb. Having learned that Aperol has Rhubarb in it got me thinking....
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#16 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 01:38 PM

Adam at Boston Shaker seems to have restocked some Scrappy's, so I grabbed their celery bitters, which I like a lot and we have at the bar, and grapefruit, which I haven't tried. Ran out of my Bittermens grapefruit....
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#17 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:46 PM

What, by the way, are people doing with grapefruit bitters? I made some I'm rather fond of over a year ago but then I never really did much with them.
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#18 vice

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:13 PM

Two of my favorite uses are the Warning Label from the Rogue Cocktails book and this one I posted in the Drinks! thread:

2 oz Saint James Ambre
1 tsp maraschino
1 tsp demerara
2 dashes Peychaud's
2 dashes Bittermen's grapefruit bitters
twist of lime


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#19 KatieLoeb

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 10:25 PM

I like grapefruit bitters with rum - a dash to rectify a Hemingway daiquiri works well. Or with gin in citrus forward drinks works too.

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#20 Alchemist

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 12:48 PM

Regans' Orange bitters are off the Buffalo Trace web site. Anybody know what going on where else to order them by the case?

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#21 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:34 PM

Yikes. This is the sort of thing that drives a man to order ten bottles for hoarding at home.
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#22 Ricky

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:24 PM

I've made a bastardized grapefruit collins with some homemade grapefruit bitters on a few occasions.

2.5 oz gin
.25 oz lemon juice
splash simple syrup
few dashes grapefruit bitters
Shake and served up.

Not quite a collins without the soda water. Clean gin flavor, with a nice bitter citrus finish.
Add a little St. Germain for some sweetness and depth of flavor.

Edit: missed KatieLoeb's post before I sent mine. Oops :)

Edited by Ricky, 22 September 2010 - 03:25 PM.

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#23 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 12:38 PM

Congrats to Janet and Avery Glasser (the latter BittermensAG here on eG Forums) for the long-awaited status as a legal producer and seller of “non-potable” elixirs, after years of frustration and a transitional link with the Bitter Truth gang. I sat at Eastern Standard with them a while ago as they spun their tale of woe, and it's truly a joy to know that they've overcome this hurdle.

Read more here. Buy 'em here. Disclosure: save for loving my new bottle of Xocolatl Mole bitters (thanks to Adam at The Boston Shaker), I've no horse, financial or otherwise, in this race.
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#24 evo-lution

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 04:34 AM

Congrats to Janet and Avery Glasser (the latter BittermensAG here on eG Forums) for the long-awaited status as a legal producer and seller of “non-potable” elixirs, after years of frustration and a transitional link with the Bitter Truth gang.


Think you may have misread what is on the website as they had non-potable status back in 2008, the transition was when they began working with The Bitter Truth who have their whole line listed as potable. Now they are producing themselves again they are back as a non-potable bitter.

Having dealt with the TTB previously, as well as at this exact moment in time as I seek non-potable approval for my Spanish Bitters, I totally understand the frustration (and anger) that Avery and Janet have been through. They were also a great help to me when looking for clarity on the laws in the US (which as they mention on their website are unlike anywhere else in the World) so that sales of my bitters in the US were legal and above board. Something which other bitters producers should really pay heed to...
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#25 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 05:09 AM

Thanks Adam for the clarification. I didn't write that sentence very clearly; I think that the event is that Janet and Avery are finally out from under the transitional reln with the BT folks and have their own line.

It's no surprise to me that they helped you when you were trying to figure out the US laws. They -- and frankly all of the bitters people I've met or corresponded with -- seem like a remarkably unbitter group of people given the absurdities you face.
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#26 evo-lution

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 01:37 PM

It's no surprise to me that they helped you when you were trying to figure out the US laws. They -- and frankly all of the bitters people I've met or corresponded with -- seem like a remarkably unbitter group of people given the absurdities you face.


Thank your lucky stars you haven't met me yet. ;)

But in all seriousness, the ridiculousness and absurdities of the various obstacles we've all had to overcome are offset by the good things we get from producing bitters. Knowing that your product is being used around the World is a pretty good feeling...

Most producers are either bartenders, or enthusiasts, with a shared passion for the industry. The great thing from a consumer's point of view is that the profit motivation (of those that I've come in contact with) is often secondary to the desire to put great bottlings on the market. Don't get me wrong, we'd all appreciate some extra coin in our pouch but so long as people enjoy using our bitters we'll keep banging them out!

Edited by evo-lution, 02 October 2010 - 02:02 PM.

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#27 BittermensAG

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 01:52 PM

Chris,

I don't want to say anything negative about the folks at The Bitter Truth at all, but we're extremely happy to have taken our recipes back. Finding a production partner last year was a necessity, predominantly brought about by the fact that I had accepted a position overseas that made producing the bitters ourselves impossible. So, we accepted some changes - we modified the formulas to work with the ingredients, equipment and processes that they had access to - and we accepted that the bitters would be coming into the US as a potable product and being sold through liquor stores. However, thanks to the crappy economy, followed by a layoff and repatriation, we were lucky enough to be in a position where we could take control back and start producing ourselves. It feels great to be hands-on with the production again, though filling and labeling over a thousand bottles over a weekend really takes its toll.

We restored everything back to the way it originally was - from the formulas to the cobalt blue bottles and even to the non-potable status. The biggest change was getting the commercial kitchen space from the fine folks at Taza Chocolate (and switching to their nibs which just work so well in the Xocolatl Mole) so that we could be legal to produce and sell. We've also been able to introduce the 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters and the Boston Bittahs, two flavors that we had regretted never being able to get to market.

In the next few weeks, our first non-bitter product should be getting ready to hit the shelves: the Chocolate Mexicano Extract, which we're making for Taza Chocolate. It's designed for chefs and bakers, but it does a fine job replacing or supplementing Creme de Cacao in Alexanders and 20th Centuries. There's even a new product that we've submitted to the TTB for non-potable formulation review, but you'll have to wait a little bit before we can talk about it!

The great thing is that because we're non-potable, our products can ship to any state and to most countries. We also have East Coast and West Coast distribution and are even trying to make headway into getting our products available in Europe and Asia. It's a full time job on top of our full time jobs - but as Adam said, all small batch bitters producers do it because we love the cocktail world - and if our bitters help bartenders make a drink that they could have never made before, then that means we're successful.
Avery Glasser
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#28 BittermensAG

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 02:52 PM

Having dealt with the TTB previously, as well as at this exact moment in time as I seek non-potable approval for my Spanish Bitters, I totally understand the frustration (and anger) that Avery and Janet have been through. They were also a great help to me when looking for clarity on the laws in the US (which as they mention on their website are unlike anywhere else in the World) so that sales of my bitters in the US were legal and above board. Something which other bitters producers should really pay heed to...


First off, aww shucks. You're going to make us blush.

Producing alcohol-containing product for sale without having the proper approvals is very dangerous. Not only can the producer be fined and prosecuted by the federal government, the bars that use unapproved products and the stores that sell them can be fined and prosecuted. We spent over two years giving products to bars under an evaluation-and-sample program without ever collecting a dime, but most of those delays were because we were doing some trailblazing on the processes for evaluation of bitters. Why? Because we didn't want to get any bar, bartender, shop or store owner in trouble because they chose to use our products.

The biggest challenge is that there are potentially three different federal agencies that one needs to be in compliance with: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The TTB controls the registration and approval of all potable and non-potable formulations that contain alcohol as well as facilities that use alcohol. Cough syrup, perfume, vanilla extract, bitters and commercial ethanol for biodiesel all need TTB designations as non-beverage alcohol products. The FDA controls the Generally Recognized as Safe list and food production facility registration for interstate sales. Finally, the USDA gets involved with certain ingredients as well as any organic designations. There is no single authoritative source that can be contacted to provide a list of "which bitters are legal to sell and/or use?" Even worse, there is no public registry of approved formulas within the TTB, which means that there's no way to validate if products are legal or not.

A few months ago, Bittermens reached out to all of the other domestic small batch bitters producers that we could find to see if there was any interest in forming a craft bitters organization with the goals of promoting bitters that have gone through the necessary TTB and FDA procedures and helping new producers get their needed government approvals so they can be sold legally. The plan was to set up a website that would basically walk people through the process - because though it is difficult to find out what you have to do to be fully legal and compliant, once you find out what needs to be done, the process is relatively painless and it's free. The website would also include a peer-certified list of products whose formulations held TTB approval and producers that were using an FDA licensed kitchen. Adam jumped at the opportunity to help put together the site and to help provide some information for US producers looking to sell in Europe. Most important, we wanted this organization to be free to join.

We put up www.craftbittersalliance.com as a landing page that listed the only small producer bitters that we knew of that held the necessary approvals - Adam's bitters (the Bokers and Dandelion & Burdock, but not the Spanish ones yet, unless he finally got his forms back) and Bittermens - as well as all of the basic information about how to get all of the necessary approvals. We're hoping that more producers join on - even if they aren't fully legal yet - so we can help them as they through the process and let people out there know who is in the process!

I'll get off of my soapbox now :)
Avery Glasser
Bittermens, Inc. - Producers of Bittermens Bitters & Extracts

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Vendetta Spirits, LLC. - Nano-Importer of Hand-Produced Spirits

#29 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 04:00 PM

We put up www.craftbittersalliance.com as a landing page that listed the only small producer bitters that we knew of that held the necessary approvals - Adam's bitters (the Bokers and Dandelion & Burdock, but not the Spanish ones yet, unless he finally got his forms back) and Bittermens - as well as all of the basic information about how to get all of the necessary approvals. We're hoping that more producers join on - even if they aren't fully legal yet - so we can help them as they through the process and let people out there know who is in the process!


So Scrappy's bitters aren't, um, "fully legal"? Says the guy with bottles both at home and at work....
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#30 BittermensAG

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 07:50 PM

So Scrappy's bitters aren't, um, "fully legal"? Says the guy with bottles both at home and at work....


I don't think so. I hope I'm wrong, or at least that they're working on becoming legal - but to the best of my knowledge, they haven't received an executed form 5154.1

The thing is that many producers have received information that they want to hear from people who haven't read the appropriate sections of the civil code that refer to the TTB and alcohol use. Here's the most basic summary:

1) If you create alcohol or increase the proof of an existing alcohol product, you need to petition for a brewing/vintner/rectification/distilling license.

2) If you create a product containing alcohol, it is by default potable and requires approval from the TTB. Potable products need to be sold through the three-tier alcohol sales network, requires permits and bonding. You cannot sell a potable product without a TTB approval.

3) If the product containing alcohol is not for beverage purposes (spirits, beer, wine), you can petition the TTB to get the formulation to be evaluated and classified as a non beverage alcohol product. As a non beverage product, you can claim back some excise taxes and sell as a food item, though your labels, production facilities and GRAS status fall under FDA/USDA jurisdiction. This approval/classification is provided via TTB form 5154.1

There are lots of people under the misassumption that if you take, for example, Everclear that you have paid tax on when purchased retail - mix up a bitter using that alcohol, that then you can re-sell it because it used an existing alcohol product. That's just not true. In fact, in many states, it may be considered an "adulterated spirit" and considered to be forbidden.

Bars and restaurants who make an intermediate product (e.g.: infusion or bitter) using commercial alcohol for use in a cocktail fall into a grey area. California, for example, says that technically infusing an alcohol and putting it back in the same bottle is expressly forbidden. I'm not a lawyer, but it looks like the law was written to protect consumers who see a bottle, for example, of Beefeater - expecting Beefeater to be in it, but instead, it's Gibley's. I bet that if it goes to court, simply putting the infusion in a generic bottle with a clear label/menu notation that says "house made infusion of XXX into XXX" should be legal. Essentially, it's the same thing as making a compound butter by mixing herbs into a commercial butter for use by the restaurant when making a meal.

So, to get back to what you initially asked: I'm not sure if they are legal or not - but my suspicion based on what I have heard is that as of right now, they are not TTB legal and their labels don't seem to be FDA compliant.

By the way - they make some absolutely great products. I really hope that they do become fully legal - and here's an open invitation for them to contact us. If we can be of any assistance so they can legally get to market, we'd be glad to help.
Avery Glasser
Bittermens, Inc. - Producers of Bittermens Bitters & Extracts

Bittermens Spirits, Inc. - Purveyors of Small Batch Bitter Liqueurs
Vendetta Spirits, LLC. - Nano-Importer of Hand-Produced Spirits