I think that the Boker's go best with gin drinks, not as well with rye or bourbon.
Agree with the comment re: gin, I've found they work exceptionally well with all styles of gin, particularly genever, and have also had a lot of joy with tequila, brandy (Crusta for sure) and rum.
However, I'm not sure I agree that they don't work as well with rye or bourbon as I've had some fantastic results with a variety of drinks calling for these and I've also had dozens of positive comments from a wide variety of people as well as some really good recipes forwarded that include rye or bourbon.
In saying that it is worth considering that the botanicals in the Boker's may not pair so well with something as spicy as rye whiskey which would probably benefit from something like Angostura Aromatic, TBT Aromatic, Regan's Orange #6 or the Bittermen's Mole.
The Bittermens mole and grapefruit are excellent.
Agree with these recommendations as I mentioned to Kent the other day, I also highly recommend the TBT celery.
Ultimately my advice would be to think about the drinks/spirits you regularly enjoy and make your choice based on that, unless you have unlimited funds in which case snap them all up.
Going back to my earlier point re: pairing rye with a spiced bitters, this is part of the fun and luxury we have now with the many bitters around. Just a few; my Boker's with Genever, TBT Celery with London Dry Gin, Bittermen's Mole with Campari, Regan's Orange #6 with aged rum...
I'd also like to add to that that my new Dandelion & Burdock bitters with tequila are heavenly!
Agreed that the decanter bitters require more volume (about double, in fact) than, say, Angostura. Also true for the Boker's reformulation. Don't know if that's about authenticity or something a bit more banal (like lucre).
Have to say that I'm a bit annoyed at that comment regarding lucre
as it's never been about money for me. I've never hidden any details regarding the Boker's which I'll cover in further depth later in this post.
It's more likely to be that you're comparing dashes from different bottles and that's where the problem
A dash of Angostura Aromatic/Orange will typically give you around 1ml (my testing gave me 20ml of Angostura with just 18-22 dashes)
The bottle I use for my Boker's took around 50 dashes to get to 20ml. I like the control this gives however I am looking for another bottle at the moment.
The Bitter Truth bottle took around 40 dashes to get to 20ml.
The Regan's Orange/Peychaud's took less than the Angostura Aromatic, around 16-18 dashes.
You also have to bare in mind the various production techniques that are used in compounding these bitters as I already touched on in the 'All About Bitters' thread.
Take from that what you will.
There's a fine line, it would appear, between making bitters that are one-note and making bitters that are so multi-note that the claimed primary flavor is obscured. Take the BT celery bitters, for example... they are good bitters, no doubt. But if a bitters is going to be called celery bitters, I expect to be able to dash some into a glass of seltzer, taste the seltzer and say: "celery!" This you can do with Scrappy's celery bitters. On the other hand, some people might say it is not as "complex" (whatever that means, and whether or not it is actually always desirable) compared to the Bitter Truth celery bitters.
From both a bartender viewpoint and someone who compounds bitters, in my opinion there has to be a distinct difference between what I'd quantify as a tincture (a one flavour bottling) versus a true bitters (layers of flavour). When I buy bitters I don't expect a singular flavour, I expect complexity and bitterness.
Another good example is to consider Angostura orange (too one-note) and Bitter Truth orange (not focused enough) bitters. Neither of these provides a particularly compelling reason to move away from the standard "NY mix" of 50-50 Regan's and Fee Brothers orange bitters, which preparation has depth, complexity and bitterness but also a forthright and focused orange component right out front. When I use up my current bottles of Angostura and BT orange bitters (which will take forever, as I rarely use them) they will probably not be replaced.
I can see what you're saying here but I have to go back to my original point and suggest finding a pairing of spirit and/or drink to go with those particular bitters. For example I tend to use Regan's Orange #6 with darker/aged spirits and the Angostura Orange with white/lighter spirits.
It's interesting and noteworthy that, in this vast proliferation of bitters we have seen coming into the community in the past few years, not too many of them have been interesting, versatile and good enough to become "must have" bar staples. I have around 30 different bitters at home, but still go through far more Angostura, Peychaud's and Regan's/Fee's orange than all the other bitters combined. A lot of the other bitters are nice things to have in your repertoire, but they're a bit like specialty salt in that once you have fine salt, kosher salt and coarse salt everything else falls in the category of "extra touches." Will a cocktail made with Fee Brothers whiskey barrel aged bitters or Bittermens Mole bitters be different from one made with Angostura? Sure. But not so hugely different that these other brands are essentials.
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.
This is why it's hard to recommend "just a few" of these specialty bitters. None of them is something you "must have" in your repertoire the way you "must have" orange bitters. So the best thing to do is figure out what cocktails you have been curious about and by the bitters accordingly. If you are really wanting to make the Loop Tonic, then by all means that's a great reason to buy the BT celery bitters. Whether you'll use them in many other things? Harder to say.
This I wholeheartedly agree with.
Edited by evo-lution, 07 January 2010 - 12:26 PM.