Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

All About Bitters (Part 1)


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
593 replies to this topic

#451 shantytownbrown

shantytownbrown
  • participating member
  • 122 posts

Posted 19 April 2009 - 06:22 AM

My only warning is about the use of the Yohimbe, as the active chemical in the bark (yohimbinine) can raise blood pressure. I'm not sure how much is extractable using alcohol, but it's been warned that people with blood pressure issues or on high blood pressure medicine should avoid it.

View Post


Thanks. The store at which I bought all this stuff had little signs about this and that, and unless it seemed dangerous I grabbed it. By the time I reached yohimbe, I had inhaled three-quarters of the several hundred items, so who knows what the yohimbe sign said.

View Post


FYI-Yohimbe was the drug Viagra replaced a few years ago...for the same said purpose..


btw..anyone know where in Connecticut (or Boston, cause i'll be there next week) that I can by
gary regans orange bitters "over the counter"..(meaning not internet)...?

thanks
sb

#452 davicus

davicus
  • participating member
  • 33 posts
  • Location:Chicago / Detroit

Posted 19 April 2009 - 04:44 PM

Chris, I'm very interested in hearing about your results... I just picked up some sapsarilla root a few days ago. Planning to macerate in 151 rum for a root beer bitters result.

Posted Image
Tinctures in progress. From left: lemon grass & black pepper in 151 rum, bird's eye peppers in bitter rye solution, ginger in 151 everclear, seville orange in everclear, seven spice rum mixture. I've also got some coffee bitters in progress, as well as a bitter molasses mix.

When making bitters, I've come across a few problems. The first is the taste of the bittering agents (calmus, wormwood, etc.) influencing the end product. It seems to be a difficult balance of achieving suitable bitterness without having to mask the taste of the root. Second problem is the strength of the primary flavoring ingredient. Despite my best efforts, none of my bitters have the intensity of flavor that i need, and i have to use quite a bit in each drink to get the flavor across.
_________________________
Dave Kaye

#453 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:01 PM

Posted Image


Davicus, what's the spirit/agent ratio here? Having just parceled out everything into 50 ml/ 5 g containers, I'm wondering if part of the problem you describe has to do with too much booze and too little flavoring. As for the bittering question, I've only used gentian (well, and burnt toast, but that's another thing altogether) and have been very happy with the results. I'll let you know what I think of wormwood in a few weeks.

Mind you, I'm still blown away whenever I get a whiff of something made by the folks at Violet Hour, PDT, or Teardrop Lounge; my stuff isn't there yet. However, I think that this tincture-based approach will give greater control over the balance and intensity. I guess we'll see....
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#454 davicus

davicus
  • participating member
  • 33 posts
  • Location:Chicago / Detroit

Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:50 PM

my bittering compound is 750 ml of rye with half a tablespoon each of wormwood, gentian and calmus. the last batch turned out pretty well, as the rye is very bitter but doesn't have (very much) the harsh earthy flavor of the root. i haven't infused any of these separately, so if you find that one has a stronger taste than the other, maybe i'll eliminate that element.

maybe i do need to let the flavoring portion infuse longer get more intense. i've got a bad habit of tasting my infusions a little too often.

again, i've had some really good results, but none have had the intensity of an ango, etc. the coffee bitters should be done mid week. i'll post results.

Edited by davicus, 19 April 2009 - 06:15 PM.

_________________________
Dave Kaye

#455 MattJohnson

MattJohnson
  • participating member
  • 323 posts

Posted 24 April 2009 - 10:53 AM

I've never made bitters, but would it make sense to infuse the ingredients separately and then blend them? Might be easier to control. Or is there some interaction that you'd be missing?

#456 BittermensAG

BittermensAG
  • participating member
  • 67 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY

Posted 24 April 2009 - 11:17 AM

I've never made bitters, but would it make sense to infuse the ingredients separately and then blend them?  Might be easier to control.  Or is there some interaction that you'd be missing?

View Post


Just from personal experience, I'm not a fan of the "blending of tinctures" approach. I've played with taking recipes we use here and doing it as a series of blended tinctures and it just seemed the flavors were very separated, not as cohesive. I think it has to do with how the essential oils interact as they're being extracted from the herbs and spices.

I consider bitters making like making a stew. If you were going to make a beef stew and took the potatoes, carrots, beef, herbs and other ingredients, cooked them all separately and then put it in a bowl to serve, each individual part may taste good, but it wouldn't really taste like stew.

It's a personal philosophy. Some gin makers take base spirit and tinctures and blend before bottling. Some make a "tea" of all of the spices and distill together. I'm not going to say one is right or wrong, but I think that if you're just going to mix a series of tinctures to make a bitter - why not go the Pegu Club route and just add the individual tinctures you want at the time you make the cocktail?
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

#457 MattJohnson

MattJohnson
  • participating member
  • 323 posts

Posted 24 April 2009 - 02:29 PM

I've never made bitters, but would it make sense to infuse the ingredients separately and then blend them?  Might be easier to control.  Or is there some interaction that you'd be missing?

View Post


Just from personal experience, I'm not a fan of the "blending of tinctures" approach. I've played with taking recipes we use here and doing it as a series of blended tinctures and it just seemed the flavors were very separated, not as cohesive. I think it has to do with how the essential oils interact as they're being extracted from the herbs and spices.

I consider bitters making like making a stew. If you were going to make a beef stew and took the potatoes, carrots, beef, herbs and other ingredients, cooked them all separately and then put it in a bowl to serve, each individual part may taste good, but it wouldn't really taste like stew.

It's a personal philosophy. Some gin makers take base spirit and tinctures and blend before bottling. Some make a "tea" of all of the spices and distill together. I'm not going to say one is right or wrong, but I think that if you're just going to mix a series of tinctures to make a bitter - why not go the Pegu Club route and just add the individual tinctures you want at the time you make the cocktail?

View Post


You'd know better than me! I was just brainstorming a bit. One has to do what produces the best results. So if/when I make bitters, I'll put beef stew in them, er, wait, I may have missed the point. Thanks for the reply. :biggrin:

#458 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 24 April 2009 - 03:19 PM

A question for Mr. Glasser:

Upthread you mentioned that your experience showed that proof of higher than 100 was necessary to get satisfactory extraction. How much higher would you say it needs to be? I assume you've also found longer steep times inadequate compensation for a lower than optimal proof?
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#459 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 30 April 2009 - 06:52 PM

It's been nearly two weeks since I started this odd experiment and I thought it'd be interesting to see what I've got going in those little jars. I worked my way through them alphabetically, using some soda and a bit of demerara rum as needed to cleanse the palate and a straw to deliver a few drops of each elixir to the tongue.

Tastes and smells interesting:

Allspice. Just what you'd think.

Angelica, a caramel nose and a very woody, almost pine-y bitter flavor. Really interesting.

Black haw smells and tastes like rich dirt, that sort of earthy character in Sazerac rye.

Burdock has a sweet, buttery artichoke aroma and flavor. Slightly bitter. Fantastic.

Calmus has an oddly sweet, cotton-candy nose -- and it's extremely bitter, with all sorts of weird, green, floral notes.

Chaste tree smells like the pig nuts I used to eat as a kid, somewhat green and somewhat nutty, along with a nice woodsy nose. Another strange bitter flavor, with less green and more cedar notes, a mid-range flavor against the highs of the calmus.

Cinnamon and clove. See allspice.

Costus root with 151 proof Wray and Nephew rum is another clear winner. It's got a strong berrywine nose with some spicy roots behind it, and it's got a strong bitter flavor that's marked by the nose element. Weird and wonderful.

Hawthorne is all mellow caramel and oak, nose and palate both. A great midrange element, I'm thinking, to balance off these more intense, bitter elements.

Hops smell and taste like hops. Very bitter in exactly the way you'd expect, if a bit greener than in an IPA.

Lovage is all caramel, cedar, and oak on the nose, and the same with a more pronounced woody bitterness on the tongue. Another winner.

Myrrh is inexplicable if you don't know that savory, oily, spicy aroma; the taste is the same with a weighty, bitter edge. This stuff would take over virtually anything it touches, I fear, but it's pretty cool to have on hand. For what, I don't know.

Pau d'arco (with Wray & Nephew 151) smells amazing, complete in itself. Vietnamese caramel, blackstrap rum, and vanilla on the nose, with all those and a slight bitterness on the tongue. This is a featured tincture at Teardrop Lounge and now I know why. Intoxicating.

Prickly ash: as Brian Eno might say, another green world on the nose, with a bit of lemon added. On the tongue, it starts like that with bitter and cedar -- and then turns into a bizarre novocaine hybrid that made me realize I had forgotten something important.... Sure enough, prickly ash is another name for sichuan peppercorn. Hard to figure what to do with this one; a few drops atop an Earl Grey MarTEAni to serve with dumplings?

Red sage root smells like sweet, wet, red clay and the tongue tastes like a less bitter version of Peychaud's. It's terrific.

Sassafrass is terrific too, a rooty, sweet, spicy nose and palate both, with the bitterness coming through on the tongue.

Wild cherry bark has an astonishing nose, with cherry, almond, and cedar wood all mixed together. The palate has all of those elements in a sweet and bitter brew. Remarkable.

Wormwood smells like cut grass, dirt, and -- I swear -- raw beef. On the tongue it adds menthol and bitterness. Hard to explain.

Tastes interesting, little aroma:

Agrimony has a bitterish, rooty flavor that's not too compelling but might play well with others.

Birch bark is a flatter, slightly bitter, woody flavor with a somewhat caramelly base.

Blessed thistle has a very green and very bitter flavor.

Cascara sagrada is another piney, bitter one, less green than the blessed thistle.

Licorice has a sweet, caramel licorice flavor with very little to no nose, oddly.

Yohimbe has no odor and tastes like dirt. Strange: I was expecting wood.

Nothing happening:

Bilberry. It's a purty color.

Sarsparilla has a somewhat woody nose but it's weak. Flavor doesn't do much for me, either. Yosemite Sam was a dork.

Vile:

Cubeb smells and tastes precisely like a burnt petroleum product mixed with the stomach bile that prompts or follows vomiting. Not recommended.

Grains of paradise have no nose and are weirdly spicy, with cedar notes that disappear behind the burn. Afterward I had to stop for ten minutes to regain my palate. Yikes.

A last note: the cinnamon tinctures are all about the same, though the Everclear is significantly lighter than the other three. I think that may be a measuring error.

Plotting my next move.
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#460 Richard Kilgore

Richard Kilgore
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,378 posts
  • Location:home, home on the range....

Posted 30 April 2009 - 07:25 PM

That's terrific, Chris. Is it possible to order these from your source, or do I have to make my way to the Northwest?

I grew up drinking sassafrass tea made from sassafrass roots my grandmother dug up on the farm. I took a large bag with me to college but it is long gone. I have had a difficult finding a source to purchase it. My understanding is that it is banned in places due to being carcinogenic. Since I drank a lot of it and am still kicking I would like to locate some.

#461 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 30 April 2009 - 10:19 PM

I'm not familiar with Wray & Nephew 151, is this something new or is it a misprint for the 126 proof? I'm certainly all ears for overproof Jamaican rums, particularly if they happen to be aged.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#462 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 01 May 2009 - 03:31 AM

Richard, the manager told me that they'd do special mail orders, but I don't know how to go about doing that.

Andy, for reasons I cannot explain, I have had it in my head that the W&N is 151 proof. You're right: it's 126. I blame the yohimbe.
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#463 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:30 AM

Andy, for reasons I cannot explain, I have had it in my head that the W&N is 151 proof. You're right: it's 126. I blame the yohimbe.

View Post


Dang, had me all excited there.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#464 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,117 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 01 May 2009 - 09:10 AM

Lovage is all caramel, cedar, and oak on the nose, and the same with a more pronounced woody bitterness on the tongue. Another winner.

This is interesting. I really like lovage. Do you know whether this was the root, or the stem and leaves, or the seeds of the lovage plant? I ask because lovage leaves and stems have a kind of herbal celery flavor that is nothing like what you describe.

This brings me to another thought about bitters in general, which is the idea of perhaps including a fresh infusion as part of the recipe. For example, you could take fresh lovage leaves, infuse them into grain alcohol, steep, remove, add more leaves, steep, remove, add more leaves, etc. until the alcohol became saturated with the lovage oils -- and then you could use the intense lovage infusion in your bitters. As an added bonus, this kind of infusion into grain alcohol will maintain its intense green color more or less indefinitely. If you kept the bitters at a high proof, you could have a great color.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#465 davicus

davicus
  • participating member
  • 33 posts
  • Location:Chicago / Detroit

Posted 01 May 2009 - 09:55 AM

Lovage is all caramel, cedar, and oak on the nose, and the same with a more pronounced woody bitterness on the tongue. Another winner.

This is interesting. I really like lovage. Do you know whether this was the root, or the stem and leaves, or the seeds of the lovage plant? I ask because lovage leaves and stems have a kind of herbal celery flavor that is nothing like what you describe.

This brings me to another thought about bitters in general, which is the idea of perhaps including a fresh infusion as part of the recipe. For example, you could take fresh lovage leaves, infuse them into grain alcohol, steep, remove, add more leaves, steep, remove, add more leaves, etc. until the alcohol became saturated with the lovage oils -- and then you could use the intense lovage infusion in your bitters. As an added bonus, this kind of infusion into grain alcohol will maintain its intense green color more or less indefinitely. If you kept the bitters at a high proof, you could have a great color.

View Post


Sam, i think this is a great idea. i'm doing lemon grass bitters which use a lemon grass in 151 rum infusion as the flavoring component, but i've found after a few weeks the booze stops gaining flavor and plateaus - which limits the final flavor of the bitters. i think i'll remove the old lemon grass and add some fresh stuff tonight.
_________________________
Dave Kaye

#466 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,117 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 01 May 2009 - 10:06 AM

Well, the use of high proof grain alcohol makes a pretty big difference as well.


But, especially when what you want to extract is a volatile oil, it's not like the herb or plant or whatever has infinite amounts of the stuff. Eventually you're going to run into several problems. First is that you've already extracted as much of the stuff you want as it is possible to extract, and any longer time will not fundamentally increase extraction of that stuff. Volatile oils extract pretty darn quickly in high proof grain alcohol. Second is that you may very well start infusing in some slower-extracting parts of the herb. And these may not be the parts that you want.

So, for example, let's say you have something you're trying to extract into alcohol, and you feel like you have to walk a very fine line between getting enough flavor and developing unpleasant off flavors. The solution is to do multiple shorter-length extractions into the same alcohol.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#467 BittermensAG

BittermensAG
  • participating member
  • 67 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY

Posted 02 May 2009 - 03:28 AM

A question for Mr. Glasser:

Upthread you mentioned that your experience showed that proof of higher than 100 was necessary to get satisfactory extraction. How much higher would you say it needs to be? I assume you've also found longer steep times inadequate compensation for a lower than optimal proof?

View Post


Correct. If you're hammering a nail, even if you hit it a thousand times, if you don't hit it with enough strength, it'll never be driven in.
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

#468 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 02 May 2009 - 08:24 AM

A question for Mr. Glasser:

Upthread you mentioned that your experience showed that proof of higher than 100 was necessary to get satisfactory extraction. How much higher would you say it needs to be? I assume you've also found longer steep times inadequate compensation for a lower than optimal proof?

View Post


Correct. If you're hammering a nail, even if you hit it a thousand times, if you don't hit it with enough strength, it'll never be driven in.

View Post


So would something in the 120 proof range be sufficient, or does it need to be more like 150?
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#469 bostonapothecary

bostonapothecary
  • participating member
  • 1,280 posts
  • Location:have shaker will travel

Posted 02 May 2009 - 08:45 AM

A question for Mr. Glasser:

Upthread you mentioned that your experience showed that proof of higher than 100 was necessary to get satisfactory extraction. How much higher would you say it needs to be? I assume you've also found longer steep times inadequate compensation for a lower than optimal proof?

View Post


Correct. If you're hammering a nail, even if you hit it a thousand times, if you don't hit it with enough strength, it'll never be driven in.

View Post



for creating "cocktail bitters", which are just essentially potent extracts and do not necessarily have a focus on being literally bitter, shouldn't the same guidelines as making extracts for vermouth apply such as a lower alcohol content than is being recommended?

a lot of the vermouth literature describes different infusion times for different botanicals and different particle sizes because nearly every botanical seems to have a part you want extracted and a part you want to avoid.

a few mid century wines & vines sources say you shouldn't use alcohol contents over 20-25% to avoid tannins and objectionable bitter components. 25% is much lower than any cocktail bitter guideline i've seen.

of course it could be a completely different ball game because the intensities are so different. though most of the vermouth recipes even used the relatively lower strengths to produce the concentrates that they then diluted to huge degrees with wine stock.

do the vermouth makers have any wisdom or is it just completely different?
abstract expressionist beverage compounder
creator of acquired tastes
bostonapothecary.com

#470 RoyalSwagger

RoyalSwagger
  • participating member
  • 50 posts
  • Location:Tucson, AZ

Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:41 AM

That's an excellent question Apothecary, I would really like to know the deep down nitty gritty differences/similarities between crafting vermouths and crafting bitters. That might seem like an obvious question then again I'm not feeling particularly articulate this morning.

#471 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 03 May 2009 - 09:44 PM

Has anyone ever had any success sourcing Bay Rum leaves (Pimenta racemosa)? The essential oil comes up all over the place but I've been searching on and off for years for a source for the leaves, to no avail. Can the oil be subbed, as David Santucci did, or do I need to go to Florida and gather some myself?

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 03 May 2009 - 09:45 PM.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#472 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 11 May 2009 - 08:37 AM

Update: found this site, though the price seems kind of high ($34 for 2 oz of leaves). Going to have to think real hard about this, with essential oil going for 1/3 of that or less.

Edit: close examination reveals that this may also be essential oil. Damn.

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 11 May 2009 - 08:39 AM.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#473 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 11 May 2009 - 08:40 AM

for creating "cocktail bitters", which are just essentially potent extracts and do not necessarily have a focus on being literally bitter,

View Post


Rereading the topic and thinking about those tinctures, I don't think I quite understand this. I certainly want my bitters to be bitter. Am I missing something?
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#474 BittermensAG

BittermensAG
  • participating member
  • 67 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY

Posted 11 May 2009 - 08:47 AM

for creating "cocktail bitters", which are just essentially potent extracts and do not necessarily have a focus on being literally bitter,

View Post


Rereading the topic and thinking about those tinctures, I don't think I quite understand this. I certainly want my bitters to be bitter. Am I missing something?

View Post


Nope. You're not missing anything in my book.

If it's not bitter and especially if it's just based on a single flavor, then it's a tincture. There's nothing wrong with a tincture. From an ATF perspective, cocktail bitters and tinctures all fall under the "Flavoring" category.

The problem is that the media and laymen have mistakenly called these tinctures bitters and now people call anything you add to a cocktail in drops or dashes a bitter.
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

#475 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:57 PM

So I've been doing some research on coumarin toxicity as I prepare to begin my own Abbott's batch and I thought I'd share the good news.

So my plan is to use a 3:1 mix of 101 rye to 190 everclear to boost proof and then do the solids cooking and add that water in to reduce proof to about 90. Taken from the original recipe, this would yield about 80 oz of bitters (in theory, a bit less in practice I'm sure).

Wikipedia informs us that "the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has established a tolerable daily intake of 0.1 mg coumarin per kg body weight" which equated to about 6 g of coumarin per day for someone about 135 lbs. Information on the coumarin content of tonka beans that I could uncover is somewhat vague but to be safe, let's assume that tonka beans are made up of pure coumarin. If this is the case, the 225g of coumarin is going in to 80 oz of liquid. This equals about 2.8g of coumarin per oz, meaning a person that weighs 135 lbs could concievably consume at least two full ounces of the Abbott's replica (or presumably the original) every day without getting sick from it. This would be a most unusual amount of bitters for most people so I think the tsp you might ingest over the course of a few rounds of cocktails is certainly acceptable, especially when taking into account all of these figures operate on the assumption that tonka beans are comprised solely of pure coumarin.

All that said, persons on blood thinners or who already have blood disorders would probably do well to avoid the stuff, or at the very least check with their physician.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#476 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 16 May 2009 - 01:13 PM

This morning, a friendly postman delivered the last vital ingredient--benzoin resin-- and so today I put away my first batch of the Abbott's replica as per the Perfumekev recipe from Drinkboy. Based on the research detailed in the previous post I went with the full measure of Tonka beans, though I did up the gentian about 50% based on eje's commentary here on the Hess Bitters that form the basis for the Abbott's recipe. I also used instead of 101 rye a 3:1 ratio of Wild Turkey Rye and 190 proof Everclear based on Mr. Glasser's advice here, which should result in something between 120 and 125 proof. Apart from that and the need to use Bay Rum essential oil instead of leaves (about 8-9 drops) I pretty much followed the recipe to a T and the results smells phenomenal already. I got a little benzoin resin on my hands in the process and I'm not really sure I really want to get it off.

I figure I'll strain and dilute around the end of the month, bring it down to about 90 proof or so and then start thinking about a buchner funnel or something. Pretty stoked.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#477 Fernwood

Fernwood
  • participating member
  • 168 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 16 May 2009 - 04:04 PM

So I've been doing some research on coumarin toxicity as I prepare to begin my own Abbott's batch and I thought I'd share the good news.

Wikipedia informs us that "the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has established a tolerable daily intake of 0.1 mg coumarin per kg body weight" which equated to about 6 g of coumarin per day for someone about 135 lbs. Information on the coumarin content of tonka beans that I could uncover is somewhat vague but to be safe, let's assume that tonka beans are made up of pure coumarin. If this is the case, the 225g of coumarin is going in to 80 oz of liquid. This equals about 2.8g of coumarin per oz, meaning a person that weighs 135 lbs could concievably consume at least two full ounces of the Abbott's replica (or presumably the original) every day without getting sick from it....

View Post


Decimal check: 0.1 mg/kg would be only ~6 mg for that 135 lb person. Based on your formula, if just 1% of the tonka beans' weight is extractable coumarin, you could be getting something like 28 mg/oz in your bitters, putting your content per teaspoon very close to the "tolerable daily intake." But that is only a hypothetical exercise; I have no idea how much coumarin might be extracted from 225g of tonka beans.

#478 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 16 May 2009 - 09:48 PM

Wow good catch, I guess my excitement got the better of me and I didn't reread more carefully. Info on the coumarin content of the beans has not been easy to come by but a range of 1-3% pops up semiregularly. How soluble that is in alcohol I guess would be the next question, specifically how much can get out of cracked dried beans in 2 weeks. Johnder said upthread he was going to have toxicology analysis done to his version...anything ever come of that?

Since I weigh considerably more than 135 lbs :rolleyes: I don't think I have much to fear from regular and enthusiastic use of the replica but it would be nice to know just what I'm dealing with.

Damn metric system...
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#479 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 17 May 2009 - 08:11 PM

Continuing what is apparently a theme of making bitters with toxic ingredients, I made an impromptu batch of "Wormwood bitters" with a nod to Mr. eje and his Savoy tribulations, as well as Mr. Darcy O'Neil's writeup of his take on the green swizzle. A friend for whatever reason pestered me to make some so I got some dried wormwood at the natural foods store the other day and threw together the following this afternoon with leftovers from the Abbott's project:

25g dried wormwood
2g cracked cardamom pods
1g dried spearmint
1g dried lavender
1g star anise
1 drop bay rum essential oil

All infused into 6 oz of Beefeaters and 2.5 oz of everclear for a proof booster. Should yield 8-10 oz of complete product, enough to fill a dasher bottle for me and my pal, almost certain to be a lifetime supply. Should be interesting anyway, and hopefully not too poisonous.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#480 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 20 May 2009 - 09:39 AM

So the Abbott's Bitters replica got done steeping today. boiled the solids in water and added that and some brown sugar. Next step, back into the jar with toasted oak chips:

Posted Image

View Post


David I'd be very interested to know if/how this worked out for you. Barrel aging is beyond my means right now and this seems like a perfect shortcut. Whats more, yesterday at the store I saw oak chips for grilling made from sawn-up Jack Daniels barrels! Seems like a perfect shortcut to the 'used whiskey barrel' aging. I know that in winemaking oak chips are used to impart flavor much faster than an actual barrel...presumably the same is true here. Are we looking at 3-4 weeks, or longer? Or is it just a check-as-you-go thing?

Or did you even think it was worth the effort?
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman