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All About Bitters (Part 1)


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#361 slkinsey

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:17 PM

I wouldn't call Fee's barrel aged bitters "esoteric." They stand firmly in the "Angostura alternative" camp.

They are excellent, I agree.
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#362 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:29 PM

Absolutely in the Angostura camp, but esoteric if you mean (as does Mirriam Webster's) "of special, rare, or unusual interest" and " limited to a small circle." That stuff is hard to come by round these parts....
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#363 TAPrice

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:52 PM

I wouldn't call Fee's barrel aged bitters "esoteric."  They stand firmly in the "Angostura alternative" camp.

They are excellent, I agree.

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Sorry. My mistake. I was asking for suggestions in the "eclectic" category as defined by Sam above. I wrote "esoteric" by mistake.
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#364 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:42 PM

Has anyone tried to make the cherry vanilla bitters from The Art of the Bar by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz? If so, where'd you get your cherry bark from?
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#365 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 04:45 PM

Meanwhile, using that Hess variation above and some killer mole paste that I can get here at an area Mexican market, I'm kludging out this attempt at a mole bitters:

1/4 c mole paste
1 c Hess variation bitters
1/2 c Flor de Cana gold
1/4 c Cruzan blackstrap rum
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#366 brinza

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 08:00 AM

Personally, I find Fee's Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters to be very good. I know it's in the "Angostura alternatives" category, being an aromatic bitters, but it bears little resemblance to Angostura. It has some citrusy notes along with the spice, making it different enough from both orange bitters and Angostura bitters to give you one more choice. I find it works well with spirits that are often paired with citrus ingredients, such as tequila or gin, for example, whether or not the cocktail actually has any actual citrus ingredient in it.

I've just ordered Angostura Orange from Kegworks because I can't find it in stores, yet. Damn, that stuff is expensive. I wonder why it's nearly double the price of the Angostura Aromatic. I also added a couple other Fee's bitters to the order, which will bring my bitters count up to a total of eight. :smile:
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#367 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:08 AM

I'm pretty happy with those mole bitters, given that they're based on the half-assed Reese's culinary principle (peanut butter + chocolate = ...). I've yet to have the Bittermen's version for comparison.

It got me thinking about the sorts of drinks I'd want a more savory bitters in, and many of my non-tequila thoughts turned to drinks involving rum and pimento dram. That got me thinking about an apricot jerk bitters: rum base, lots of spice (including pimento/allspice, of course), black pepper, orange peel, dried apricot, and a scotch bonnet or three. Anyone seen anything like this? Any ideas to contribute?
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#368 alacarte

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:16 AM

At Tales of the Cocktail, I was given a sample of a new Fee's product -- Rhubarb Bitters. (This was my reward for brazenly introducing myself at a party to the guy in the pith helmet -- turned out to be Joe Fee himself...who apparently carries around bottles of the stuff in his cargo shorts pockets!)

It sounds delightful to me. I wish I could report back how it tastes, but airport security confiscated them, unopened, from my carry-on. DOH! :shock:

#369 mkayahara

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:56 AM

That got me thinking about an apricot jerk bitters: rum base, lots of spice (including pimento/allspice, of course), black pepper, orange peel, dried apricot, and a scotch bonnet or three. Anyone seen anything like this? Any ideas to contribute?

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I think of thyme as being a major flavour component in jerk rubs. That would also make it pretty compatible with bianco vermouth, which (to my palate, anyway) has a significant thyme component. Are green herbs ever used in non-potable bitters?
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#370 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 08:03 AM

Of course you're right. (I blame this 102F fever.) Thyme would be essential. And, yes, there certainly are green herbs used in bitters.
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#371 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 01:27 PM

Don't go putting just any green Jamican herbs in there though...
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#372 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 01:28 PM

For a moment I considered calling it a jerk, apricot, and habanero bitters, but then thought that anyone making JAH bitters should be shot.
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#373 cravios

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:59 AM

I have a question about making peach bitters I guess I was just wonding how to go about making it. I have made bitters twice before and would like to learn more about it. Thank you for your help

#374 TBoner

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:15 PM

There are many ways to approach making bitters, and some of them have been discussed elsewhere in this thread. That said, it would be helpful to know what methods and ingredients you have experience with and what type of bitters you have made before.

Regards,
Tim

#375 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 01:02 PM

I just reread the entire topic (quiet afternoon at work) and couldn't find any information on using fresh fruit in bitters. Do you do a fruit infusion first and then use that alcohol for the rest of the process? Or everything at once? Or...?
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#376 mkayahara

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 08:20 PM

I've only ever seen references to using dried fruit in bitters. Fresh fruit would have a greater water content, so of course you'll be diluting whatever spirit base you're using, at which point it would make sense to start with a higher-proof spirit. I'd think the method advocated by Jamie Boudreau - macerating each ingredient separately and then blending them to produce the final product - would be a good place to start. But then, I've only ever made one batch of my own bitters.

When it comes to peach bitters in particular, is the flavour derived from the fruit or from the kernels?
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#377 TBoner

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 08:32 PM

cravios,

My only peach bitters experiment was basically a variation of Hess' House Bitters.

I reduced most of the spices by 50% and I used dried apricots heated in the base spirit (I used Old Grand-Dad 114, which has an apricot note and is of course flavorful and high-proof enough to work well in this application). I chose apricots because I know from my beer brewing that peaches don't leave much peach flavor behind, no matter how they're used, but apricots do. I heated half of the base spirit to 130* and then reconstituted 1/2 c of dried apricots in it. The whole mess went into a jar with the rest of the base spirit, spices, gentian, etc. I also added 1/2 c. of (blanched and then toasted) almonds at that time to provide a peach-kernel like flavor. I used peach nectar in place of half of the demerara syrup at bottling to increase the peach flavor and keep things from being quite as sweet as the Hess bitters.

The flavor was more satisfying and complex to me than Fee Bros. Peach (which I basically use for flavoring iced tea at this point), but not quite what I wanted: for one thing, the infusion in the jar was so dense that I didn't get much liquid out in the end. Additionally, I would have liked more balance between peach and almond (I believe this would take the bitters into the more traditional end of the peach bitters spectrum), and with the almonds in solution the color came out quite milky. Still, it was a start.

I think there are other ways to approach this, though, such as using straight peach or apricot nectar at bottling and perhaps using a good quality almond extract. There are also excellent fruit extracts available through homebrew channels that might provide good fruit flavor without the mess.

Anyway, as I said, I only made the one batch, and I think next time I will use almond extract but follow a similar fruit protocol.

Hope that helps.

Regards,

Edited by TBoner, 16 August 2008 - 12:45 PM.

Tim

#378 mbrowley

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 07:38 AM

When it comes to peach bitters in particular, is the flavour derived from the fruit or from the kernels?

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Been digging much into 19th century medical texts lately. Saw an 1845 reference just yesterday that suggested peach leaves could be used as medicine (half an ounce of dried leaves infused in a pint of boiling water for irritated bladder, "in sick stomach and hooping-cough"). I've only seen the water reference and no word whether peach leaves surrender their virtue (in the parlance of the day) to alcohol, which would be preferable when making tinctures for bitters.

We may be heading down snakeroot territory here, but I've yet to research any modern survey on side effects, so take that as a matter of historical interest rather than a suggestion to run out and get dried peach leaves for tinctures.

By the by ~ We have no peach trees, so, um, anyone have suggestions for where I can get dried peach leaves for tinctures?
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#379 Chris Amirault

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 06:12 PM

Just put this up to age. I was following Avery's advice about proof and tried to get it well above 100, but I couldn't resist having some of the demerara in there too. If my math is correct, it's at about 107 proof. I didn't cook the lime bc I wanted to have that fresh, but I did steep everything else. I crushed the dry stuff before steeping it.

Apricot Jerk Bitters

Combine in a saucepan:

350 ml Wray & Nephew overproof rum (126 proof)
250 ml Lemon Hart demerara rum (80 proof)
25 g orange peel
125 g dried apricot, diced
7 g thyme leaves and tender stems
7 g dried gentian
8 g allspice
3 g cloves
2 g star anise
2 g black pepper
3 g cinnamon
2 g green cardamom
2 g nutmeg
30 g scotch bonnets (about 5, stemmed and seeded)
3g dried habaneros (about 3, stemmed)
25 g ginger, julienned

Heat to 140F or so and then take off the heat to let cool. Add

200 g diced lime (about 2)

I'll shake & age, then strain and steep the solids a bit, add some color and sweetness with molasses.
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#380 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 01:18 PM

Just in case you're not yet convinced that Chris Amirault takes bitters seriously, check out his fine story in the Daily Gullet.

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#381 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:53 AM

Stopped by LeNell's yesterday on a day trip to Coney Island with my daughter. Among many other goodies was a much larger selection of bitters including some Bitter Truth stuff, what seems like the full line of Fee's (including some of the whiskey-barrel aged elixir), Regan's, and a few others. I tried to get her to crack open a bottle of the rhubarb stuff to try it but no dice.
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#382 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 06:56 PM

Tasted these guys --

Apricot Jerk Bitters

Combine in a saucepan:

350 ml Wray & Nephew overproof rum (126 proof)
250 ml Lemon Hart demerara rum (80 proof)
25 g orange peel
125 g dried apricot, diced
7 g thyme leaves and tender stems
7 g dried gentian
8 g allspice
3 g cloves
2 g star anise
2 g black pepper
3 g cinnamon
2 g green cardamom
2 g nutmeg
30 g scotch bonnets (about 5, stemmed and seeded)
3g dried habaneros (about 3, stemmed)
25 g ginger, julienned

Heat to 140F or so and then take off the heat to let cool. Add

200 g diced lime (about 2)

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-- which sat for two weeks and they were ready to get strained. Added 50 ml of molasses and 50 ml of pimento dram. I'm now letting it sit to settle before I strain it later. It's a whopper, and I'm not sure what the hell I'll actually do with it....

I had the good fortune to try a few new bitters at Eastern Standard Monday night, including the fantastic Angostura orange bitters and a few from Avery and Janet Glasser, the Bittermens duo. The thing I notice most about my home attempts is the lack of binding middle flavors: things tend to be all up front and at the end. My stuff is also not nearly as fragrant as the top-end stuff either, sadly.

Still gots me work to do.
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#383 KatieLoeb

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 09:49 PM

At Tales of the Cocktail, I was given a sample of a new Fee's product -- Rhubarb Bitters. (This was my reward for brazenly introducing myself at a party to the guy in the pith helmet -- turned out to be Joe Fee himself...who apparently carries around bottles of the stuff in his cargo shorts pockets!)

It sounds delightful to me. I wish I could report back how it tastes, but airport security confiscated them, unopened, from my carry-on. DOH! :shock:

View Post


I put my bottle of Fee Rhubarb bitters (also cajoled out of Joe Fee's cargo shorts pocket) into my checked baggage and managed to get it home. The rhubarb bitters are top notch. They're particularly tasty in my Rhuby Daiquiris, a twist on a Hemingway made with rhubarb syrup and Ruby Red grapefruit juice. I'll report back on any other successes with them.

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#384 Mickael

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 06:40 AM

I was asking myself if this theory is possible:

During the US prohibition, the sale / manufacture / transportation & consumption of Alcohol was banned. But, was it possible to buy Angostura Bitters? :huh:

At that time, I think that angostura bitters was in a category on its own, Aromatic Bitters. And the US law described this category as being undrinkable alone.

Now, I'm thinking if it could have been possible to buy aromatic bitters, in a pharmacy for example, during the US prohibition?

Cheers for you help, :biggrin:

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#385 BittermensAG

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 06:46 AM

During the US prohibition, the sale / manufacture / transportation & consumption of Alcohol was banned. But, was it possible to buy Angostura Bitters? :huh: 

At that time, I think that angostura bitters was in a category on its own, Aromatic Bitters. And the US law described this category as being undrinkable alone.

Now, I'm thinking if it could have been possible to buy aromatic bitters, in a pharmacy for example, during the US prohibition?

Cheers for you help,  :biggrin:

Mick

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It was because of Prohibition that the US Government (now the Taxation and Trade Bureau of the Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) set up a category for non-potable alcohol, which includes things such as vanilla extract and non-potable bitters (such as Angostura).

Bitters such as Angostura still need to be approved by the TTB before being classified as non-potable before being sellable.

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#386 Mickael

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 09:01 AM

[/QUOTE]It was because of Prohibition that the US Government (now the Taxation and Trade Bureau of the Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) set up a category for non-potable alcohol, which includes things such as vanilla extract and non-potable bitters (such as Angostura).

Bitters such as Angostura still need to be approved by the TTB before being classified as non-potable before being sellable.

Avery
[QUOTE]


So it wasn't possible to buy Angostura in the USduring between 1919 & 1933?
thanks. :biggrin:
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#387 slkinsey

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 09:23 AM

No. Avery is explaining why it was possible to buy Angostura in the US during Prohibition. Angostura is a "non-potable" alcohol -- which is to say that the government decided that it is impossible to get inebriated drinking nothing but Angostura bitters.
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#388 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 09:25 AM

It was because of Prohibition that the US Government (now the Taxation and Trade Bureau of the Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) set up a category for non-potable alcohol, which includes things such as vanilla extract and non-potable bitters (such as Angostura).

Bitters such as Angostura still need to be approved by the TTB before being classified as non-potable before being sellable.

Avery



So it wasn't possible to buy Angostura in the USduring between 1919 & 1933?
thanks. :biggrin:

View Post


Angostura, Abbott's, etc were available for sale during Prohibition.
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#389 Mickael

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 10:22 AM

It was because of Prohibition that the US Government (now the Taxation and Trade Bureau of the Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) set up a category for non-potable alcohol, which includes things such as vanilla extract and non-potable bitters (such as Angostura).

Bitters such as Angostura still need to be approved by the TTB before being classified as non-potable before being sellable.

Avery

So it wasn't possible to buy Angostura in the USduring between 1919 & 1933?
thanks. :biggrin:

View Post


Angostura, Abbott's, etc were available for sale during Prohibition.

View Post


The only problem that i can think off is how Abbott's could get heir hand on neutral spirit to make the bitters. Abbott's is from the US, isn't it?
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#390 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 01:15 PM

It was because of Prohibition that the US Government (now the Taxation and Trade Bureau of the Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) set up a category for non-potable alcohol, which includes things such as vanilla extract and non-potable bitters (such as Angostura).

Bitters such as Angostura still need to be approved by the TTB before being classified as non-potable before being sellable.

Avery

So it wasn't possible to buy Angostura in the USduring between 1919 & 1933?
thanks. :biggrin:

View Post


Angostura, Abbott's, etc were available for sale during Prohibition.

View Post


The only problem that i can think off is how Abbott's could get heir hand on neutral spirit to make the bitters. Abbott's is from the US, isn't it?

View Post


Abbott's was made in Maryland, yes. Distilled spirits are necessary for industrial applications as well as recreational ones, so distilling would not have come to a complete halt. Something like NGS would have still been available, especially in the bulk industrial buy it by the rail car type of context.
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