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All About Bitters (Part 2)


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#31 KD1191

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 09:54 AM

Regans' Orange bitters are off the Buffalo Trace web site.

They're back.
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#32 evo-lution

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:28 AM

but not the Spanish ones yet, unless he finally got his forms back


Correct, still waiting on approval for these...

Edited by evo-lution, 14 October 2010 - 11:29 AM.

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#33 EvergreenDan

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 04:48 PM

Thumbs up for Bittermens Grapefruit, BTW. I made a quickie gin-and-Campari and doused it with 10 drops or so of Bittermens Grapefruit. Dee - eee - licious.
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#34 evo-lution

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 10:17 AM

Recently got my hands on another bottle of Abbott's Bitters;

http://yfrog.com/76wpgj

...and have began the process of reformulation with samples being sent away for analysis. I'll post info as and when I have it but hope to have (sample) batch one finished in a couple of weeks and (sample) batch two a few weeks after.

In the meantime I'm going to be researching the history of the company in much the same way I did with my Boker's reformulation.
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#35 evo-lution

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 01:00 PM

I'll also be taking delivery of a full unopened bottle of Khoosh Bitters in the next couple of days and I'm interested to know if anyone out there has ever come across them (specifically having tried them) as the only person I know that has them is Ted Haigh, although I'm led to believe there's also a bottle at the Museum of the American Cocktail (unsure if this is the same bottle). These are extremely interesting to me due to the fact they were a British Bitters and seem to be extremely rare (to the point where I only know of this one other bottle).

On top of that I've been made aware of a full unopened bottle of Finsbury Distillery Peach Bitters that I hope to get my hands on,. I've never heard of these and no-one I've spoken to has ever come across them so reaching out to see if anyone has? Stephan from TBT has a bottle of their Orange Bitters so I'm hopeful that someone may know something...

There is also another bottling but I'm awaiting confirmation on what they are.
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#36 Ritty

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:53 PM

How on earth do you find all these rare bottles of bitters? Geez don't you get a lot of people who want you to share, for the good of The Cause.

#37 BittermensAG

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 04:06 PM

Getting the bottles to Adam is the best way to get them shared. He has a real passion for dissecting the classic bitters so he can reproduce them (or reproduce them as well as possible without having the original recipes).
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#38 evo-lution

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 10:11 AM

How on earth do you find all these rare bottles of bitters? Geez don't you get a lot of people who want you to share, for the good of The Cause.


A lot of time, patience and money is the short answer.

Abbott's aren't that rare and are turned up every so often, the Khoosh has been a long process that I never thought would come to fruition but now it has, the Finsbury Peach was pure luck as with the other bottle I'm still not 100% sure what it is but judging by the Khoosh and Peach it should be something very interesting.

As for the comment re: sharing, you've lost me there...
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#39 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 11:22 AM

I think he wants a taste. As one of the first, and very happy, owners of Adam's Boker's bitters, I'm happy for him to have the originals so we can all enjoy his remarkable recreations.
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#40 evo-lution

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 12:15 PM

I think he wants a taste. As one of the first, and very happy, owners of Adam's Boker's bitters, I'm happy for him to have the originals so we can all enjoy his remarkable recreations.


Ah, I understand. I'm more than happy to share (as I'll cover in a little more detail) but I'm not going to start sending samples of bitters to anonymous people on the internet. :wink:

First-off, I have no plans to recreate every vintage/defunct bitters that I get my hands on. I am acquiring these as part of a bigger project and what is essentially an education for myself. The Boker's reformulation came about due to demand, the Spanish are going to be released as a Limited Edition batch due to the quality of them (possibly a one-off yearly batch due to how good they are), and the plan for the Abbott's is a relatively recent thing for the same reasons (demand) coupled with the fact I managed to obtain samples that were in remarkable condition. My Dandelion & Burdock Bitters were created due to the close relations between traditional D&B and bitters.

An immediate plan for me is to embark on a tour of bars in the UK (and hopefully the US) with all the bitters I've managed to procure, my own creations, and a number of modern bitters that fit with the profile that bitters were supposed to have (The Bitter Truth and Bittermens being great examples). Why am I planning on doing this? To give people a chance to try drinks as they were first intended but to also experience the rebirth of bitters as a category. Sharing what I've gotten my hands on is on the agenda, that's for sure.

I must also add that I am not interested in bottlings that are trying to latch onto the bitters rebirth but are not related to bitters in any way, shape or form. For me, there has to be a clear understanding of the difference between bitters, tinctures and flavourings. I don't want to talk negatively about any particular bottling but some are really misunderstanding the point and purpose of bitters.

Edited by evo-lution, 20 October 2010 - 12:34 PM.

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#41 BittermensAG

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 12:30 PM

I must also add that I am not interested in bottlings that are trying to latch onto the bitters rebirth but are not related to bitters in any way, shape or form. For me, there has to be a clear understanding of the difference between bitters, tinctures and flavourings. I don't want to talk negatively about any particular bottling but some are really misunderstanding the point and purpose of bitters.


Thank you for saying something that really needed to be said.
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#42 Ritty

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 09:55 PM

I'm more than happy to share (as I'll cover in a little more detail) but I'm not going to start sending samples of bitters to anonymous people on the internet.


I'm inocent! I really didn't think you'd share with me, but am rather interested in having others get a better grasp of the formulations of defunct bitters. The more people who try them, the greater understanding we might get of their composition.

#43 evo-lution

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 10:01 AM

There is also another bottling but I'm awaiting confirmation on what they are.


So I found out today the other bottling is Law's Peach Bitters, hopefully I'll have the Finsbury and Law's in my possession by this time next week...
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#44 evo-lution

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 03:36 PM

The Khoosh are open, little bit of history right there...

http://yfrog.com/gi3qfkj
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#45 Alcuin

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 01:53 PM

Got my hands on some Bittercube bitters, the Cherry bark vanilla, Jamaica #1 and #2, the Bolivar, the Blackstrap, and the Orange. I haven't had a chance to play with them much, but I've inspected them a bit (dabbed on my wrist and in soda water) and my preliminary take is that they are really fantastic. These are some complex bitters. They also come in tincture dropper bottles which I think is great. Can't wait to try them out. I'm thinking I might try the Jamaica #1 (the flavor profile of which reads "allspice, ginger, black pepper") with scotch. Or maybe applejack. If you see them, they're worth picking up, though I don't know how wide their distribution is at this point.
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#46 KD1191

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 08:07 PM

Got my hands on some Bittercube bitters, the Cherry bark vanilla, Jamaica #1 and #2, the Bolivar, the Blackstrap, and the Orange. I haven't had a chance to play with them much, but I've inspected them a bit (dabbed on my wrist and in soda water) and my preliminary take is that they are really fantastic. These are some complex bitters. They also come in tincture dropper bottles which I think is great. Can't wait to try them out. I'm thinking I might try the Jamaica #1 (the flavor profile of which reads "allspice, ginger, black pepper") with scotch. Or maybe applejack. If you see them, they're worth picking up, though I don't know how wide their distribution is at this point.

The Bittercube guys are great, and their products are top notch. In fact, theirs are the best orange bitters I've tried, and the Bolivar are frequently subbed in for Angostura at my house. They've made a few limited editions that knock my socks off...a Lemon Tree variety for spring/summer this year and a Mole-like preparation for Milwaukee's Cafe Corazón that I can't get enough of.

We've no business affiliation, but they are good friends.

Edited by KD1191, 31 October 2010 - 08:21 PM.

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#47 Chris Amirault

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 05:47 AM

I'm thinking I might try the Jamaica #1 (the flavor profile of which reads "allspice, ginger, black pepper") with scotch.


Do report back. Some time ago I tried to make Jamaican jerk bitters (click for post up-topic) but couldn't find a use for 'em. The main problem there was the scotch bonnets and habañeros, of course!
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#48 evo-lution

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 06:53 AM

The Khoosh are open, little bit of history right there...

http://yfrog.com/gi3qfkj


Writing up some tasting notes for the Khoosh today...
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#49 Alcuin

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 09:20 AM


I'm thinking I might try the Jamaica #1 (the flavor profile of which reads "allspice, ginger, black pepper") with scotch.


Do report back. Some time ago I tried to make Jamaican jerk bitters (click for post up-topic) but couldn't find a use for 'em. The main problem there was the scotch bonnets and habañeros, of course!


Drank this in an Old Fashioned with applejack (Laird's bonded). It's profile is that of an aromatic bitters. It's spicy, with the ginger providing a backbone of spicy fruitiness, with allspice and pepper giving it a spice cake kind of feel. It was really very nice with the applejack, but I can see it working with anything brown really. It's powerful too, clocking in at 53 abv.

Its not a jerk bitters, there's no picante kind of spice going on here (no peppers). The other Jamaican #2 has a strong grapefruit component.

They are worth it. A funny thing, every woman I've showed them to (3) by dabbing on the wrists suggested they'd make great perfume. Not that they're perfumy or artificial seeming at all, they're just very aromatic in a pleasing way.
nunc est bibendum...

#50 12BottleBar

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:39 AM

If I may appeal to the forum, I can use a little advice on the subject of bitters.

My blog is focused on educating and exciting the average Joe on the subject of classic cocktails. In order to strip away any perceived mysteries and moans of "it's too complicated", I decided to build a fixed set of key ingredients and to work exclusively around those, plus mixers. The ingredients are "bottles" people would need to buy, not just spirits -- I know a lot of well-educated, well-off people who appreciate cocktails but who have little more than bottles of Belvedere and Cuervo Gold in their home liquor cabinets.

My choice of bitters are Angostura and Peychaud's. For a while now, orange bitters have been gnawing at me -- would they have been a better choice than Peychaud's? For the average Joe, which would provide the simplest, broadest, and most-accessible repertoire? If I switch, what do I lose (like the Sazerac) and what do I gain without disrupting the rest of the bottles?

I'd really appreciate the thoughts of the group.

#51 evo-lution

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:58 AM

My choice of bitters are Angostura and Peychaud's. For a while now, orange bitters have been gnawing at me -- would they have been a better choice than Peychaud's? For the average Joe, which would provide the simplest, broadest, and most-accessible repertoire? If I switch, what do I lose (like the Sazerac) and what do I gain without disrupting the rest of the bottles?


I covered this earlier in the thread, the simple answer is the necessity for any bitters is based entirely on the drinks you consume and how experimental you are when it comes to home-bartending.

Contrary to popular belief, Angostura Aromatic and Peychaud's don't necessarily work in every drink and aren't always the best option, they're just the easiest option. There's a very lazy attitude when it comes to bitters but from what I've seen things are changing as the category is becoming better understood.

My earlier thoughts;

I'd say the reason they are not 'must-haves' is because they haven't been around as long as Angostura Aromatic or Peychaud's, and aren't as sought after as orange bitters have been the last 10-20 years and the multitude of drinks calling for them isn't as vast as those calling for those mentioned.

However, things are slowly changing and the new bitters are becoming a staple for many bartenders, on many cocktail lists, all around the globe.

As you're aware the Boker's I originally made was for my own needs (JT Project) but due to demand and enquiries I began producing for the wider bartending community. This production has since continued and is entirely for bartender's based on their demands, and judging by these last few weeks it's not going to let up any time soon. Many cocktail lists are now listing drinks with Boker's and I've been contacted by a number of people looking to ensure that they'll be able to order more bottlings in the next few weeks and/or to purchase a number of bottles so that they don't run out. The fact that I now haev suppliers in every corner of the globe also shows that there's something there. It may not be a staple for you but it is for others.

I'd like to add that I've never proclaimed to do anything other than give bartenders the option to construct drinks the way that Jerry Thomas did in the 1800s. Over the last few years we've been limited in our bitters offering, and when it comes to authentic reproductions of drinks we've had little choice but to use Angostura Aromatic. That doesn't sit with me.

Now though, thanks to the work of the likes of Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck, Avery and Janet Glasser, Gary Regan and Ted Haigh, the guys at Fee and Scrappy's, and Robert (Bob's Bitters) we have a selection of bottlings to choose from which gives us the possibility of recreating vintage drinks but also create our own original libations. That's phenomenal, and to think that I'm playing a small part in it just blows my mind. The doors that my Boker's has opened has enabled to me spend some time on a project I'd always wanted to undertake, which is where my new Dandelion & Burdock bitters come in.

To back up what I've done I've conducted more research into Boker's and its history than anyone that I'm aware of and hope to release a treatise in the near future (it's been a lengthy process and it's still not finalised).

The other consideration is that surely you wish to use the best bitters possible for a particular drink? Limiting yourself to just Angostura, Peychaud's and an orange bitters isn't a bad thing, but for me it'd make more sense to have more bottles to choose from.

I think this quote separates the home bartender from the working bartender to be honest. Although, I've had many home bartenders re-order bottlings in the last 6 months since I started producing Boker's and many people who regard both my Boker's and Dandelion & Burdock as staples in their liquor cabinets.


I'm not sure where this whole 'must-have' thing cropped up? I haven't seen or heard of any bars closing down in the last few months when they've been out of Angostura Aromatic so maybe it's not the must-have we all think it is? If anything their financial problems have enabled bartenders (talking about my own personal experiences here) to talk to guests about the various bitters on offer and open their eyes to what's available.

The point is that bartenders/enthusiasts now have a variety to choose from other Angostura Aromatic which is all we can ask for. Informed choices can be made based on personal preferences and we're not left with one option. Current bar trends dictate that the choice of Angostura Aromatic, Peychaud's and an orange bitters isn't enough.


It may be worth having a look at page 20 of this thread as the thoughts of others are available there.
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#52 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:35 AM

Responding within the constraints you mentioned, I'd suggest that you search cocktaildb for both orange and Peychaud's bitters. You'll quickly see a roughly representative list of the options on both sides.

Much as I love my Sazeracs, I'd choose Regan's orange bitters over Peychaud's if I had to choose. Thankfully, I do not have to do so. :wink:
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#53 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:46 AM

If accesability to a broad audience is the criteria, then it would seem best to go with whatever is more widely available to purchase in a store without resorting to online ordering and the attendant hassles that can entail. How you would determine which is more available I'm not quite sure, they are roughly equally so for me but that may not be the case everywhere.

I should note that the only widely available orange bitters at retail for me are Fees, and if I had to choose between Fees OB or Peychauds, I'd probably go with Peychauds. If Regans or some other more interesting choice in OB were the alternative the choice would be more difficult. Oddly, Regans seems to be a mail order only proposition in TX. TBT are to be had for those who care to search, but wow are they pricey, which would be another obstacle to accessibility.


edit: spelling

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 02 November 2010 - 12:04 PM.

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#54 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 12:00 PM

If accesability to a broad audience is the criteria, then it would seem best to go with whatever id more widely available to purchase in a store without resorting to online ordering and the attendant hassles that can entail. ... I should note that the only widely available orange bitters at retail for me are Fees, and if I had to choose between Fees OB or Peychauds, I'd probably go with Peychauds.


Good point. Ditto for Angostura orange.
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#55 eje

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 12:33 PM

[...]
My choice of bitters are Angostura and Peychaud's. For a while now, orange bitters have been gnawing at me -- would they have been a better choice than Peychaud's? For the average Joe, which would provide the simplest, broadest, and most-accessible repertoire? If I switch, what do I lose (like the Sazerac) and what do I gain without disrupting the rest of the bottles?

I'd really appreciate the thoughts of the group.


Well, my perspective is as someone who makes a lot of classic cocktails from the late 19th and early 20th Century.

While Peychaud's is necessary for the Sazerac and Vieux Carre cocktails, there are so many more classic drinks that call for Orange Bitters, it would be hard for me to justify a bar without them. I mean you can't even make a proper Gin Martini, and life without proper Martinis would be, well... Words fail me.
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#56 12BottleBar

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for all the quick feedback! Chris, I did do that search a few days ago, 30+ for Peychaud's versus 300+ for orange bitters.

It's always gnawed at me, but I think admitting hindsight or greater awakening, as the case may be, makes for a more honest and interesting blog. As I (like all bloggers) have readers scattered around the globe, I do have to keep online availability as an option.

Adam, very anxious to try your Dandelion and Burdock -- not sure I've ever experienced the combination.

Regan's over Angostura and Fee's, then -- it that the general consensus? Yes, I'm going back to page #1 to catch-up. :)

#57 eje

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:45 PM

...Though life without Sazeracs sounds pretty grim, too.

My favorite Orange Bitters Solution is from the NY School of Bartending, half Fee's and Half Regan's.

I like Angostura Orange Bitters, but you do have to be careful, they are far more pungent than either Fee's or Regan's. Too much can easily unbalance a cocktail.
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#58 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:58 PM

But if you had to choose only one...
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#59 12BottleBar

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:10 PM

Finally (mostly) caught up with all the previous posts. It's interesting to see the points of view here, where many espouse a plethora of bitters on the shelf, and the forums at Modern Drunkard, where I was called a fancy lad for having two bitters on my list. :)

I'm a fan of both Regan's and Fee's for very different reasons -- the former sharing so much density (for good reason) with Peychaud's, and the latter having an almost soda pop (maybe misplaced in a bitter?) top note. The 50/50 mix is really spot-on for me, and I think an interesting take, as I really like to push readers into getting to know their ingredients. A little home tinkering isn't such a bad thing.

Still curious to hear other opinions on the matter.

#60 12BottleBar

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:29 PM

On another front, has anyone (Adam maybe?) tried Dr. Harris's Original Pick-me-up in a cocktail? Would it be classified as a bitter? I have an empty bottle and never tried mixing it outside of the recommended water/ginger ale version -- I vaguely remember it having a very violet-ammonia profile.

I did a search, which returned no results.