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

#61 JennotJenn

JennotJenn
  • participating member
  • 314 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 06:08 PM

I got my lovely box of mixed bitters from Fee's today.

Can I just say again how darn nice these folks are.

The total for 4/5 pint old fashioned bitters, 4/5 pint orange bitter and the small bottle of peach bitters, plus UPS shipping to NC was $20 and change. Not bad at all! I'm quite pleased.

We tasted a bit of each straight up (a small dash of each).

We like the Fee's old fashioned bitters quite a lot. Nice and spicy. Husband says they remind him of Christmas.

The orange ones we also like. Not as complex as the old fashioned, but I can tell they're still going to add that extra something to cocktails. Long bitter finsh. Nice.

Even Husband liked the peach bitters. He doesn't even like peach. They do have a strong almond flavor that I really, really like.
Gourmet Anarchy

#62 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:00 PM

Caffeine, oil (of) orange, tincture (of) orange peel & the extracts of cusparia, cascarilla, lemon peel, chiretta & ginger. Alcohol 30% (60 proof).

Comments?

Here's mine: Mmmmm, nummy num zippy! Caffeine right up front. What's THAT all about?! :unsure:

OK, here's mine. Can't tell you about the caffeine, but I've been educating myself on the botanicals/aromatics. I wasn't familiar (at least not by these names) with casparia, cascarilla, or chiretta, so I went off and boned up on them. Their primary common characteristic is that they are all... very bitter. Appropriate, I guess. Also, they all have medicinal properties, so their presence may well be partly attributable to descent from medicinal bitters - especially as the medicinal properties in question are all such as are attributed to said nostrums in their marvelous flowery propaganda pieces.

Starting from the end, then, and working backwards:

Chiretta - botanical name swertia chirata. A member of the gentianaceae. Yes, as in Gentian, which we were discussing the other day as a bittering agent - same family. Liver tonic, stimulant, relieves constipation.

Cascarilla - botanical name croton eleuteria. A member of the euphorbiaciae, commonly known as spurges. Tonic, stimulant to mucous membranes. Good against diarrhea (i.e. counteracts chiretta in that respect).

Casparia - botanical name casparia febrifuga, better known as (wait for it...!)... TRUE ANGOSTURA. A member of the rutaceae, i.e. closely related to (wait for it...!)... RUE. Again, stimulant, tonic - also purgative, can cause diarrhea.


So. From a flavoring standpoint, you're just looking at bitter, bitter, and bitter. The only flavoring elements that add anything else (besides the orange, that is) are lemon and ginger, both of which I was thinking I'd like to add to my next batch, because I like them. Medicinally, BTW, ginger shares some of the properties of the above - can relieve diarrhea (that makes for a balance, then - two for two), and is generally good as a digestive.

And two of the three are (forms of) bittering agents we've discussed up-thread - though I swear when I suggested rue I hadn't the slightest idea that it was a close cousin of the True Angostura! Man, when I think how long I've been growing it, and how useless I thought it was outside of poetic applications...!

Obviously, there can be no lack of bitterness there. I suspect, though, that those components are present only in trace amounts, i.e. not enough of them to have any serious medicinal effect even if you gulped the stuff down - more a vestigial harking back to the origins of bitters (she said through her hat - I haven't looked this part up yet, but I'd be willing to bet it's true). I also think you must lose something in that you don't get the aromatic qualities of the spices Baker used. Not to suggest that his should be the only possible choices - far from it (though I do think they work well). But I do like the idea of adding aromatic notes as well as bitter ones. Especially if you're using seville oranges, which are already so bitter.

Only other thing that occurs to me is that the alcoholic content is lower than I'd expect. I calculated mine rather naïvely, I guess, simply assuming that by volume it pretty much had to amount to the sum of its parts - so I pegged it at 75%.


Oooh - here's something interesting. Looking at the label of my Angostura bottle (45% alcohol BTW), I see that it lists gentian among its ingredients and is not specific about any of the other elements which it refers to as "aromatic" and as "harmless vegetable flavoring extractives." On another panel of the label it says, quite prominently, "Does not contain Angostura Bark." But nowhere does it say "Does not contain Rue." Wouldn't it be a gas if.... ! :shock: :wink:


EDIT to add: Esprit d'escalier: The only thing I can think of that makes sense out of the caffeine is that it too, like the 3 C's, is a stimulant (not to mention a dopamine precursor). I'm remembering its use in the old OTC headache remedy APC (aspirin, phenacetin, caffeine) - also as a component in some modern-day migraine and hangover remedies. So maybe it's another medicinal holdover. Damned if I know, but it's interesting to speculate. Wouldn't it be even more interesting to know how high the concentration is....

Edited by balmagowry, 02 April 2004 - 07:09 PM.


#63 drcocktail

drcocktail
  • participating member
  • 145 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:16 PM

Yeah, Angostura Bitters was so-named because it was originally prepared in a town originally named Angostura. Other bitters, notably the lost lamented American Abbott's Bitters used that point to their advantage - added angostura bark and called their product (Abbott's) angostura bitters - until Angostura Wupperman successors to Dr. J.G.B. Siegert MADE them stop under force of law.

Good researching, LG. You might also note that cascarilla was a substitute for cinchona - from which quinine derives, and of course quinine, besides being an antimalarial (or perhaps because of it) was the bitter basis for (Indian) tonic water, and the quinquinas - such as Dubonnet, Raphael, and Lillet! Bitter agent, get it - THAT'S why they're aperitifs! The interconnections made a nerd like me SING! :laugh:

--Doc.

#64 JAZ

JAZ
  • manager
  • 4,901 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:19 PM

Caffeine, oil (of) orange, tincture (of) orange peel & the extracts of cusparia, cascarilla, lemon peel, chiretta & ginger. Alcohol 30% (60 proof).

Comments?

Here's mine: Mmmmm, nummy num zippy! Caffeine right up front. What's THAT all about?! :unsure:

--Doc.

Can't put my hands on it right now, but I think I remember reading somewhere that caffeine is one of the bitterest substances around -- certainly one of the bitterest ones we regularly ingest.

#65 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:23 PM


Caffeine, oil (of) orange, tincture (of) orange peel & the extracts of cusparia, cascarilla, lemon peel, chiretta & ginger. Alcohol 30% (60 proof).

Comments?

Here's mine: Mmmmm, nummy num zippy! Caffeine right up front. What's THAT all about?! :unsure:

--Doc.

Can't put my hands on it right now, but I think I remember reading somewhere that caffeine is one of the bitterest substances around -- certainly one of the bitterest ones we regularly ingest.

DUH! Of course, you're right. How bird-brained of me! and how clever of you. Bitter. Dang - shoulda thought of that. :blush:

#66 drcocktail

drcocktail
  • participating member
  • 145 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:25 PM

Well these bitters certainly WERE...bitter. I love the sort of 19th century-style ingredients they chose. As Balma said, leaning to the medicinal. I love that. Also though, this is where i got my hint that a bit of ginger was a very good thing in orange bitters.

--Doc.

#67 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:37 PM

Well these bitters certainly WERE...bitter. I love the sort of 19th century-style ingredients they chose. As Balma said, leaning to the medicinal. I love that. Also though, this is where i got my hint that a bit of ginger was a very good thing in orange bitters.

Sounds kind of unrelievedly bitter, though. I think on general principle I like the idea of a little more dimension, y'know? I mean, with aromatic bitters, isn't that pretty much the point?

I too am very interested in the use of ginger, because ginger is the only really aromatic component we've discussed so far which also has a history playing the lead role in some forms of 19th-century medicinal bitters. Vinegar bitters - there's another notion that caught my attention! though for culinary rather than cocktail use, I imagine. Hmmmmm. I know someone who knows someone who has access to some good sources of quack pamphlets - wonder if there's anything to be learned about formulation and claims?

Doc, how about doing a side-by-side comparison of all seven or eight (I disremember how many there are) of those different orange bitters you have? tasting notes and ingredient lists. You game? I would think that'd yield some fascinating results.

Another thing I'm wondering about - in the cases of ginger and rue, which would be likely to yield the best results, fresh or dried? I know all the peels are dried, and I assume there's a reason for that - but does it hold true for aromatics?

Oh, and another thought about caffeine - I wonder when it was first isolated?


[EDIT for de-klutzification]

Edited by balmagowry, 02 April 2004 - 07:38 PM.


#68 drcocktail

drcocktail
  • participating member
  • 145 posts

Posted 02 April 2004 - 08:01 PM

Sounds kind of unrelievedly bitter, though. I think on general principle I like the idea of a little more dimension, y'know? I mean, with aromatic bitters, isn't that pretty much the point?


You'd be right if that were so, but it isn't These bitters were quite bitter, but they had a WONDERFUL depth - unparalleled among orange bitters I've tried.

Doc, how about doing a side-by-side comparison of all seven or eight (I disremember how many there are) of those different orange bitters you have? tasting notes and ingredient lists. You game? I would think that'd yield some fascinating results.


Sounds like bitter ole' fun, but some of those bottles are either not good anymore or too rare to open without having a second sealed bottle. There are really only 3 of such history and import that the test would be useful with their inclusion. They are: Field's - too rare to open unless I get a second one, Jung & Wulfe - not good anymore, and Legendre - for which I DO have 2 bottles, well-sealed though from 1934 are probably still good, and I MIGHT just be convinced! I hadn't felt the need before thanks to my cache of Fee Bros Orange Bitters and Old House. None of those other bottles list any ingredients either.

Another thing I'm wondering about - in the cases of ginger and rue, which would be likely to yield the best results, fresh or dried? I know all the peels are dried, and I assume there's a reason for that - but does it hold true for aromatics?


I don't know, but might be workable to try both ways? I'm guessing a little bruised ginger root would be the way to go there, but as for rue, your guess is more educated than mine! I'm going to guess dried.

Oh, and another thought about caffeine - I wonder when it was first isolated?


Well, I know it was used in the 19th century as the "propellent" in the following commonly prescribed remedy: opium, salicylic acid (think aspirin), and caffeine. Can't get THAT anymore!

--Doc. (edited for spelling and for dat ting I fergot)

Edited by drcocktail, 02 April 2004 - 08:07 PM.


#69 Heikki

Heikki
  • participating member
  • 25 posts
  • Location:Tampere, Finland

Posted 03 April 2004 - 01:25 PM

The only flavoring elements that add anything else (besides the orange, that is) are lemon and ginger, both of which I was thinking I'd like to add to my next batch, because I like them.

If I remember correctly, orange bitters have been recognized to blend well with whisky just like ginger based wines and liqueurs. Using ginger as an ingredient of orange bitters sounds like quite a good idea.

Heikki Vatiainen

#70 Heikki

Heikki
  • participating member
  • 25 posts
  • Location:Tampere, Finland

Posted 03 April 2004 - 02:07 PM

Does this make sense?

Thanks, it does make very much sense, both the text above and below of what I quoted. I would also like to thank the forum members for their hearty welcomes!

Your comment clarified a lot of what I had in mind about the flavor; what it should be like and how much to use the flavoring agents. The "pinch" I used was quite small, something you could hold between your thumb and forefinger. Now I conclude the aromatic flavor vs. bitter orange base ratio was not blanced at all and the Seville oranges completly overtook that batch. It looks like a good way to proceed with the second try is to add some sweet orange peel, with peel containing both zest and pith, and increase the amount of the spices.

Increasing the amount of spices is actually quite obvious now knowing the strong taste of Seville oranges and re-reading the recipe where it says to crush the seeds and peel with a muddler. I did notice that my small pinches were completly lost among the orange peel and it was wery hard to tell if they were there or not and especially if they were crushed at all!

This discussion has been very enlightening. The goal (what to expect for orange bitters) is now much more visible.

#71 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 03 April 2004 - 02:58 PM

Your comment clarified a lot of what I had in mind about the flavor; what it should be like and how much to use the flavoring agents. The "pinch" I used was quite small, something you could hold between your thumb and forefinger. Now I conclude the aromatic flavor vs. bitter orange base ratio was not blanced at all and the Seville oranges completly overtook that batch. It looks like a good way to proceed with the second try is to add some sweet orange peel, with peel containing both zest and pith, and increase the amount of the spices.

I think you'll find, in any case, that many of the sweeter types of oranges have thinner peels with less pith; or that the ones with thicker peels have pith that is slightly less bitter.

Increasing the amount of spices is actually quite obvious now knowing the strong taste of Seville oranges and re-reading the recipe where it says to crush the seeds and peel with a muddler. I did notice that my small pinches were completly lost among the orange peel and it was wery hard to tell if they were there or not and especially if they were crushed at all!

Actually, until I looked it up yesterday, I had quite forgotten that there is an official scientific measurement for "pinch." I wonder how many cookbook authors and/or cooks are aware of it? It's a little embarrassing, because now I think of it I may well have used that term loosely in recipes myself. And it certainly isn't unusual to see ingredient lists call for "a generous pinch" or "a small pinch" of something.

What a pitfall for the unwary! Scope for misinterpretation at both ends. Scary.

It occurs to me that one way to make sure the spices get crushed is to do them separately from the peels - this would be feasible if you have kept them separable during steeping, in a loose piece of cheesecloth, for instance. I'm not sure whether that would affect flavor, but I imagine it's unlikely; doesn't make any measurable difference with a bouquet garni, after all.

This discussion has been very enlightening. The goal (what to expect for orange bitters) is now much more visible.

BTW, getting back to the issue of subjective measurements, I'd have to say I tend to measure my 1/2 drachm on the generous side; and I'd have to say that the flavor of my orange bitters is a bit... "over the top," perhaps. Which is fine with me; I think of all these things as having very powerful personalities. It's the proportions one uses in cocktails or cookery that may make them seem subtle.... :wink:

#72 drcocktail

drcocktail
  • participating member
  • 145 posts

Posted 03 April 2004 - 05:38 PM

Just a quick note before guest drop by, I just perused the ingredients on my OLDEST bottle of Old House Orange Bitters. I hadn't thought about it before, assuming them to be the same as, in the main, they are. Here is that listing:

Caffeine, caramel, amaranth color, oil (of) orange, tiincture (of) orange peel & the extracts of angostura, cascarilla, lemon peel, chiretta & ginger.

Cool! One of my bottles actually called it angostura! I'm even more tickled by the amaranth coloring! What could go better than bugs and bitters?!! :wink:

--Doc.

#73 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 03 April 2004 - 09:03 PM

Caffeine, caramel, amaranth color, oil (of) orange, tiincture (of) orange peel & the extracts of angostura, cascarilla, lemon peel, chiretta & ginger.

Cool! One of my bottles actually called it angostura! I'm even more tickled by the amaranth coloring! What could go better than bugs and bitters?!! :wink:

Um, bugs? What bugs? I don't see no bugs. :unsure:

#74 phaelon56

phaelon56
  • legacy participant
  • 4,036 posts
  • Location:Syracuse, NY

Posted 04 April 2004 - 06:57 AM

I'm curious to know if any of you have tried and can suggest a recipe for making it or some sort of equivalent. I don't mind buying the little six pack on occasion but would like to have one before dinner sometimes when dining out and need a set of instructions to give the bartender (should I happen to be in a place with a good bar). Th referenced thread is in Soft Drinks forum as there is no alcohol in this beverage but perhaps it belongs on this thread?

Stappj Bitter Apertif

#75 Heikki

Heikki
  • participating member
  • 25 posts
  • Location:Tampere, Finland

Posted 16 April 2004 - 02:35 PM

I am currently making my second batch of orange bitters. This time I have been documenting the process by making a web page which has the recipe, notes and pictures of different phases. This batch is not finished yet, but I think there is enough information on the page so that it can made generally available.

Besides making notes for myself, my idea was to make a page that people find useful if they want to experiment with making bitters. I would appreciate seeing any comments you might have about the method, recipe and other subjects. Hopefully I am on the right track :)

The link is http://www.iki.fi/va...orange-bitters/

Heikki Vatiainen

#76 sco-v

sco-v
  • participating member
  • 24 posts
  • Location:Hayward, CA

Posted 01 May 2004 - 04:10 PM

I came across this thread after many searches for information on bitters on google. Needless to say I was pretty happy to find three pages of people taking bitters.

I love bitters, but so far I have been limited to Angostura bitters which I discovered back in my bartending days. I use Angostura daily, adding a couple dashes to water, bubbly water, my makers mark (the favorite use), cooking, you name it.

Well, only having one option was getting to me so I started of on a quest to make my own. I started by doing a search on botanicals, barks, roots and herbs, and I ended up selecting over 40 different herbs, roots, and bark based on reading about their different properties both “medicinal” and flavor. Initially it started as a flavor thing, but reading a lot of the holistic and Native American healing information and the what little history on bitters that I could find and I started to factor all that in as well which made it all the more interesting.

I found some Everclear at my local BevMo and picked up a couple bottles of that, and snagged a good quality-canning jar at Cost Plus and now I have a project in my kitchen. All I can say is that while I was putting the different things into the jar (before the Everclear) it smelled amazing. I have everything from Black Cohosh root to Black Walnut bark in there. Once I added the Everclear to it my mixture had some similar notes that I smell when I have a few dashes of Angostura in a glass of water.

Either way I think what I have will be good. I still have to let sit for another week before it is done, and I am being good not dipping into it, but man, it is dark, and the volume of what I put in has really grown. I am going to really have to ring that out good. Once I cut it in half with water it will be about 75 proof and I think extremely bitter, but maybe not so orange-ie but I think that it will undoubtedly have a deep complex, and bitter flavor.

I am glad to hear about Fee Bros. – I sent them an e-mail and apparently there is a retailer right across town. I didn’t experience the same when I called Sazerac trying to track down some Peychaud's Bitters. In fact they made it really difficult for me to spend my money with them. After several voicemails and callbacks they were able to get me their West Coast distributor good thing I had the distributors number anyway. They were really surprised by my call though….

Couple questions, when I cut it with water should I use distilled water? I know nothing is going to grow in this stuff, but I want to keep it clean and pure as possible. Also after I cut it, should I again allow some additional sitting time?

Couple things I wanted to mention though after reading all these great posts that made me think about my recipe. Like the burnt sugar rounding out the flavor. That was cool to read because I had added Stevia a natural sweetener, really good, and pretty healthful too. I was thinking me crazy, but I went with my gut and added it. It fit with the other green earthy things in the mix. ;)

Anyway, again thanks for all this great info (and helping me with out knowing it). I hope that his topic is still alive and well, because I would love to talk bitters. People I know think my fascination with bitters is a bit strange… go figure.

Anyway – Cheers!

Scott

#77 JAZ

JAZ
  • manager
  • 4,901 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 01 May 2004 - 05:19 PM

Welcome, Scott. Let us know how your recipe turns out. Sorry I can't help you with your water question, but perhaps Balmagowry can weigh in with her experience. Or wait a while, and when Dr. Cocktail checks in next, I'm sure he'll have the answer.

#78 drcocktail

drcocktail
  • participating member
  • 145 posts

Posted 02 May 2004 - 01:32 PM

Hi all, Balma knows (Hi Balma!) but I will recapitulate what's been going on with me: Movies, movies, movies! House renovations! 2nd lasers in for my new book Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, due out late October. I am B-U-S-Y!

But how can I turn down a bitters question!? Since you are still experimenting with your formula, Scott, you want everything to be as controlled as possible so to note differences when you lessen or increase quantities of constituents. So you are right, use distilled water as a control. Switch to whatever other kind of water strikes your fancy when all other aspects of the formula are to your liking.

--Doc.

#79 balmagowry

balmagowry
  • legacy participant
  • 1,482 posts

Posted 02 May 2004 - 02:49 PM

Hi all, Balma knows (Hi Balma!) but I will recapitulate what's been going on with me: Movies, movies, movies! House renovations! 2nd lasers in for my new book Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, due out late October. I am B-U-S-Y!

But how can I turn down a bitters question!? Since you are still experimenting with your formula, Scott, you want everything to be as controlled as possible so to note differences when you lessen or increase quantities of constituents. So you are right, use distilled water as a control. Switch to whatever other kind of water strikes your fancy when all other aspects of the formula are to your liking.

--Doc.

Hi, Doc! Good to see you break the surface for a moment!

I too have been buried, though not as deep as you - a week of submersion in the Blog that Ate Babylon. Not much about beverages there, except that at least I have been remembering to pick the violets as they bloom here, and am saving them off in a little jar of vodka, against furture... er, need.

Welcome, Scott! I don't have much to add here, except to repeat my side of the burnt-sugar argument up-thread - to the effect that there's more than one interpretation of "burnt sugar" out there, and the only kind I've used is the one that has no flavor and is used only for color. You don't say exactly what you have in your formula or what it is that makes it orange (did I miss a mention of orange peel?), but you are right in saying that dilution will make it less so; I remember being pretty excited about the orange color of mine and commensurately disappointed with the effect of dilution. But burnt sugar (again, the dark flavorless kind) gives it a much more authoritative look. I haven't experimented with sweeteners at all yet, since I always figured bitters should be bitter. :biggrin: Interesting question, though. I wonder whether a good organic honey would be worth considering - might add an interesting note to some types of fruit-based bitters; and of course it certainly lends itself to fermentation.

I don't know anywhere near as much about all this as Doc, but my instinct chimes with yours and his re using distilled water. I didn't bother, on past batches... but I've changed my thinking since then and will certainly do so in future.

Edited by balmagowry, 02 May 2004 - 02:52 PM.


#80 Heikki

Heikki
  • participating member
  • 25 posts
  • Location:Tampere, Finland

Posted 02 May 2004 - 03:41 PM

This batch is not finished yet, but I think there is enough information on the page so that it can made generally available.

The second batch is now done and the result, after mixing with some of the bitters from the first try, is much better than with the first try. There is more spice in the taste and the bitter seville orange taste is not as strong-tasting as with the first try.

The seville oranges have a very strong and long lasting bitter taste and using only them may not be the best method. Additionally, the seville orange peel I used had very thick pith that managed to decompose and cause plenty of cloudiness while simmering the peel and spice.

Our household now has an electronic scale which makes it possible to actually to measure the spice. This should make the soon to be started third batch once again a little closer to the "real thing". Thanks again for the informative discussion!

Heikki Vatiainen

#81 sco-v

sco-v
  • participating member
  • 24 posts
  • Location:Hayward, CA

Posted 07 May 2004 - 04:50 PM

Hey there all –

Thanks for the replies!

Getting ready to have some bitters soon. J

My batch should be ready this weekend (well at least pre-hy20cut). I actually didn’t add a lot of Orange anything to my mixture initially, because I never really noticed the orange smell with Angostura until after I had really concentrated (and reading these posts) so last weekend I added a couple oranges worth of peel, and in a matter of hours, I opened it again just to see – and viola there was the smell.

I am glad I added orange peel to it now though, I don’t think it would impact the color (oranges or burnt sugar), as it is a dark brown from the various roots and barks, seeds and herbs. Some of the ingredients I used included Black Cohosh, Black Walnut, Anise, Angelica, Chicory, Cloves, Gotu Kola, Maple, Oregon Grape, Passionflower, Peppermint, Prickly Ash, Sarsaparilla, White Oak, Wild Cherry, Allspice, Bergamont, Bethroot, Ginger, Juniper, Lavender

On another note, I picked up some Fee Bros Bitters. Went with the old fashioned ones, the peach, and Indian orange. I’ll leave the mint for another time though.

Surprised that the orange and the peach are clear. Good stuff though.

I think I like the old fashioned ones the best – every time I mix it with something I taste something new.

Any who – cheers and thanks again.
Scott

#82 sco-v

sco-v
  • participating member
  • 24 posts
  • Location:Hayward, CA

Posted 10 May 2004 - 09:08 PM

Interesting, when i added my water it turned a weird color, almost like when water and oil mixes but brown.

It smells amazing, and tastes extremely deep and complex.

I’ll use less anise maybe, but man it's good.

I just don't like the color, i mean i expected it to be a lighter brown, but not a "milky" brown...

Any ideas? Time to burn some sugar?

Cheers -
Scott

#83 sco-v

sco-v
  • participating member
  • 24 posts
  • Location:Hayward, CA

Posted 12 January 2005 - 10:16 AM

Wow - I almost forgot about this thread.

Thought I would report back (how many months later?) on my bitters progress.

The above formula balanced it self out and provided me with a couple batches of really nice bitters. On several of the bottles I filtered my formulation through some dried peppermint leaves, which yielded awesome results. I found that filtering through a coffee filter worked really well.

I think when I originally added the water to my mixture it reacted with the oils in the different roots and bark. After it sat for about a week the bitters looked good as before.

I am really pleased with the results. I gave a few bottles away as gifts to fellow cocktail enthusiasts and the feedback was inspiring.

I think that I will probably do another batch in a month or so. We just recently moved from a house to an apartment so finding room for my various experiments, booze, cigars, and tea is tough.

Anyway – I noticed that a few other bitters threads were started – so I am going to read up a little more.

You were all so helpful when I was initially starting out so if any one is interested trying some of these bitters out – holler at me.

Cheers,

Scott

#84 ScorchedPalate

ScorchedPalate
  • participating member
  • 858 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 15 January 2005 - 06:15 PM

Mint Bitters, I believe they have discontinued. They were especially compounded for julep-type drinks. It would have been sad to see them go if they weren't so gut-wrenchingly, gorge-risingly horrible. Hope I didn't put too fine a point on that.

View Post


Saw a bottle of Mint on the shelves today at DeLaurenti in Pike Place Market. I'm a big fan of the Peach, and (a distant second) the Orange.

~A
Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

#85 Rob Simmon

Rob Simmon
  • participating member
  • 156 posts

Posted 16 January 2005 - 07:21 AM

Has anyone else heard of Collins Orange Bitters? I got a bottle a few years ago (I forget what I was supposed to be making with them) at Addy Bassin's MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC. They came in a small plastic squeze bottle. Tasted like orange plus a bittering agent (but not a flavorful one, purely bitter), in a glycerin base. I tossed 'em after getting a bottle of Fee Brothers and doing a comparison, but now regret it.

#86 JAZ

JAZ
  • manager
  • 4,901 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 16 January 2005 - 12:28 PM

I had a bottle of the Collins, before I found Fee Bros. When I tasted them side by side, the Fee was so far superior that I tossed the Collins (it was almost empty, anyway). The Fee Bros. had a more pronounced orange taste and much more complexity.

#87 fatdeko

fatdeko
  • participating member
  • 129 posts

Posted 17 January 2005 - 10:32 AM

The Collins products are simply NAS-T!
When I tasted the Orange bitters, I swore it was one of the worst things I'd ever had in my mouth. And that's saying something.

But here's my per-dick-a-mint:
I've finally collated enough bitters recipes that I'm finally gonna do something about it. (Heck, if you're gonna have 1 New Years Resolution, it might as well be that)
Towit:
Dried Orange Peel.

Is there a significant difference between what you'd buy vs. what you could make?
I know, I know, Seville Oranges are differenct from Florida Navels and from Curacao-ian etc, etc. Don't even get me started on Tangerines and Tsatsumas and stuff.
But is the difference significant?

Fresh juicers that we are, I thought it was a shame/waste to wring the juice from a dozen or so oranges per day, just to throw the skin/peel/rind away. Lately I've taken to taking a carrot peeler to liberate the peels. I start at the bud end, executing a near perfect Horses Head, and peel it off in a single long spiral. I take the Horse Head end and hook it on a wire hangar--Joan Crawford be damned--and wait for it to dry, about 4 days.
Everybody at work is already convinced I'm weird, so when they saw me erecting Anita Bryant's tie rack, I only got a few, albeit guarded, questions.

BUT: is this approach gooder, better or simply cheaper than buying commercial?

Myers

#88 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,106 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 18 January 2005 - 01:00 PM

In my experience, bitter orange peels are indeed different from sweet orange peels. This is not to say, of course, that good bitters couldn't be made with the latter.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#89 jsolomon

jsolomon
  • participating member
  • 2,534 posts
  • Location:Medical school

Posted 02 June 2005 - 12:04 PM

Admin: This is an especially big and interesting topic, so it was split off from the thread on Gary Regan's Orange Bitters.

I know this isn't exactly the thread to be posting this to, but...

Can I get some pointers on how to understand and appreciate the zen of bitters?

Thanks...
I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

#90 mbanu

mbanu
  • participating member
  • 273 posts
  • Location:Olympia, WA

Posted 02 June 2005 - 12:45 PM

Admin:  This is an especially big and interesting topic, so it was split off from the thread on Gary Regan's Orange Bitters.

I know this isn't exactly the thread to be posting this to, but...

Can I get some pointers on how to understand and appreciate the zen of bitters?

Thanks...

View Post


If you ask here, you'll get a lot of "religion". :P Bitters acolytes have a pretty firm grip of this board. They'll want to convince you that bitters go good in everything from 40-year-old scotch to oatmeal. (well... maybe in oatmeal... :P) Since Angostura are the main bitters I have any experience with, here's my advice on them.

Angostura bitters are actually more spicy than bitter. :) They're good for a couple of things:

Giving unaged or underaged liquor an "aged" color and flavor. Light rum + bitters = passable gold rum substitute. ;)

Complimenting intentionally bittersweet flavors. Not sure why, but the spiciness of the Angostura really blends well with bittersweet flavors like tonic water, triple sec, or Campari.

Balancing out accidental bitter flavors. If a gin or whiskeymaker tries to collect too much of the tail end of a distillation run, this can sometimes cause bitter off flavors to enter the spirit. If a tequilamaker uses underaged agave, it can sometimes cause bitter off flavors to enter a spirit. Sometimes it's just a case of an aged spirit not being aged properly. But especially when you work with cheap spirits, bitters can be a lifesaver. The careful application of bitters and sugar has the potential to turn even the most awful rotgut into something drinkable, assuming that it's main flaw is bitter off flavors. :) If it's the gut-heaving smell, or the brain-frying proof, or some other issue, you might have to also try some other things. For instance I can't seem to add enough bitters and sugar to fix Georgia Moon; it keeps me humble in my opinion of my mixology skills. :P

Edited by mbanu, 02 June 2005 - 12:55 PM.