Did I say that? That's another post you've made where I'm not sure you read what came before. And why the obsession with the water? Really, why? The amount of water (and alcohol) in the original extraction decides the abv, and thus affects the flavour of that bottling. So, 75% abv bitters taste differently to that which is 37.5%. That bottling will then affect the flavour in the finished drink. So let's say there's more cardamom and angelica prevalent at 75%abv, but at 37.5% it is more citrus forward, that'll affect the drink.
What you seem to be arguing is that diluting the original extraction with water when you make your bitters changes its taste in some kind of fundamental and permanent way that carries through into an infinitely more massive dilution into a cocktail.
The reason I say that is because that is exactly what you're saying
. And you say it again above.
I get that a bitters might taste more strongly of cardamom and angelica at 75% abv and more of citrus at 37.5% abv. We all understand this. What doesn't quite follow is that these taste differences will carry through once the respective bitters are further
diluted, and to a far greater extent
, when they are added to a cocktail in minute quantities. It doesn't follow because this
dilution will also
affect the taste of the bitters, just as much as the original dilution did. Since we agree that abv has an effect on flavor and agree that diluting a 75% abv bitters 100% with water to 37.5 % abv can have a profound effect on the expression of the flavors, then we must also agree that an 8,000% dilution of those bitters will have an even more profound effect. And this actually understates the extent to which bitters are diluted in a cocktail.
At the very least, then, we understand that the dilution of the bitters that happens in the glass is many orders of magnitude greater than the dilution that happens for the bottle. And if making a 100% dilution for the bottle from 75% to 37.5 % abv shifts citrus to the fore and cardamom and angelica into the background, one would expect that an 8,000% dilution in the glass would have an even more profound effect and shift other flavors around. This is something you seem unwilling to address, and what you have written suggests you believe that the dilution that happens for the bottle is the only one that matters. You seem to be suggesting that once the bitters are diluted to have a certain flavor profile, these flavors transfer into the drink just as they were coming out of the bottle despite the fact that the drink itself further dilutes the bitters
. But that doesn't make sense because as you yourself have said
, dilution changes the flavors. I don't see any chemical basis to assert that the 75% abv expression of the bitters will have a predominant taste of cardamom and angelica in the cocktail
whereas the 37.5% abv expression of the bitters will taste more citrus-forward in the cocktail
simply because they taste that way straight from the bottle. And you seem to be asserting that they will. Plenty of things have certain flavors straight out of the bottle that change radically when diluted into other ingredients.
Let's look at a real situation. Let's say you're making an Old Fashioned. You put either 0.25 ml of 75% bitters or 0.5 ml of 37.5% bitters into 100 ml of 40% abv bourbon, and you stir with ice to get 20% dilution (20 ml of added water).
If we look only at the water added by the ice
, we have effectively created an 8,000% to 8,100% dilution of the original extraction into water. On a chemical basis, this dilution in the glass is no different from the dilution that was done to bring the 75% abv bitters down to 37.5% abv. It's just 80 times greater, is all.
Because this dilution is no different on a chemical basis, another way of looking at it would be to say that we have effectively created a "0.1874% abv bitters" by further diluting the 75% bitters with 20 ml of water, and a "0.1869% abv bitters" by further diluting the 37.5% bitters with 20 ml of water. That's a trifling difference of 0.0005% in abv, which suggests that there won't be any difference in the flavor of the two Old Fashioneds attributable to the bitters. And of course we haven't yet factored in the water that the bourbon maker put into the bourbon to dilute it down from barrel proof to 40% abv, which probably accounts for at least another 25 ml of the drink volume.
Now... could there be factors that lead a 75% abv bitters to taste different from a 37.5% abv bitters in a way that carries through into the cocktail other
than concentration? Sure. The most obvious would be if certain substances precipitate out and get filtered off when the bitters is reduced to 37.5% abv. This would create a permanent and enduring change in the flavor profile of the bitters. But thus far you seem to be arguing that a 75% abv bitters tastes different from a diluted-down 37.5% abv expression of the same bitters solely due to proof and concentration, and that these differences will carry through into the drink in some kind of characteristic way despite the massive dilution that happens in the glass. That just doesn't follow. It's like saying that because 100 proof Wild Turkey tastes different from 80 proof Wild Turkey coming out of the bottle, you can't make the two cocktails taste the same by putting more water into the 100 proof cocktail. We know this isn't true.
So take two identical Martinis and add 2 dashes of each bitters (75%abv and 37.5%abv) to each Martini, and the flavour profiles described above (cardamom and angelica prevalent at 75%abv, citrus forward at 37.5%) will have an effect on how the final drink tastes.
Of course those will taste different. They will taste different because you used twice as much of the original extraction in the cocktail you dashed the 75% bitters into. But that's not what we're talking about. You say yourself that "two dashes of 37.5% abv bitters is not the same as one dash at 75% abv."
As to whether they will taste different in the characteristic ways you suggest, the minor at-home testing I've done with the available bitters I have around the house since this thread started suggest that you're wrong about those characteristic flavor differences carrying through into the drink. One dash of 50% compared to two dashes of the same bitters diluted-down to 25% tasted identical to everyone who tasted the two drinks. I don't have any bitters of substantially higher proof at home.
Edited by slkinsey, 29 December 2011 - 11:06 AM.