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All About Bitters (Part 1)


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#181 johnder

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 11:50 AM

So now that I have both a decent batch of Abbott's and a quasi decent batch of Boker's, the question is which is used for what.

I am seeing conflicting reports that a Manhattan calls for Boker's and some that call for Abbott's.

I know Boker's is the older bitters of the two, so my assumption is that a Manhattan first used Boker's then switched over to Abbott's and finally to Ango.

I see there are certain recipes that call for Boker's alone; the Artillery, Japanese and others that call for Abbots; Swan, Martinez.

Any experts care to chime in which is used for what? I personally love my version of Abbott's in both the Martinez and Manhattan. Have yet to try the Boker's in anything yet. That's tonights task.

John
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#182 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 01:43 PM

My understanding is that the use of Bokers is sort of a tell that the recipe came from Jerry Thomas. What I do not know is if he uses this almost exclusively because it was his favorite, or because it was more widely available. I think in general different brands of aromatic bitters are more or less interchangeable according to preference, although they will sometimes yield drastically different results (though not necessarily bad results).

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#183 DemeraraDrinker

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 10:27 AM

Chuck Taggart has a few recipes he uses with Abbott's on his Gumbo Pages.

Verena Abbott Cocktail
http://www.gumbopage...ena-abbott.html

Reveillon Cocktail
http://www.gumbopage.../reveillon.html

#184 Snowy is dead

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 07:25 AM

Is there a list someplace of all the bitters availiable? I've never heard of lemon or bitter truth before. I love playing around with bitters, but the chances of finding any obscure types around me are almost zero. You're lucky to find Fees Orange in one out of ten stores next to 4 sizes of Angostura. I've heard of Bokers (sp?) but isn't that defunct? I've ordered Regan's, Peychaud, Stirrings Blood Orange, and the Fees collection but that is the extent of what I know exists.

Edited by Snowy is dead, 31 May 2007 - 07:27 AM.


#185 evo-lution

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 09:46 AM

Is there a list someplace of all the bitters availiable?


Would you be including the likes of Jagermeister, Campari, Becherovka, etc. in that list?

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?

Bitters still available today include:

Angostura bitters (from Trinidad and Tobago)
Amer Picon (from France)
Averna (from Italy)
Becherovka (from Czech Republic)
Beerenburg (from the Netherlands)
Campari (from Italy)
Dimitri (from Costa Rica)
Martini & Rossi ChinaMartini (from Italy)
Fee Brothers bitters (aromatic, orange, mint, lemon and peach), from Rochester, New York; the aromatic bitters contain Angostura bark
Echt Stonsdorfer (originally from Silesia now made in Germany)
Fernet Branca (from Italy)
Fernet Stock (from the Czech Republic)
Gammel Dansk (from Denmark)
Jägermeister (from Germany)
Mint bitters
Orange bitters
Peach bitters
Peychaud's Bitters (from Louisiana, United States)
Quinquina (from France, originally from South America)
Ramazzotti (from Italy)
Riga Black Balsam (from Latvia)
St. Vitus (from Germany)
Swedish bitters
The Bitter Truth-Aromatic-,Orange-and Lemon Bitters]Germany
Underberg (from Germany)
Unicum (from Hungary)

Other brands/types of bitters have also included::

Appenzeller (from Switzerland)
Boker's
Boonekamp's (from Germany)
Calisaya bitters (containing cinchona/quinine)
Hartwig-Kantorowicz (from Germany)
Hostetter's (American)
Kabänes (from Germany)
Kuemmerling (from Germany)
Maraschino bitters
Meyer's Bitter (from Germany)
Flimm's (from Germany)
Ratzeputz (from Germany)
Reichs-Post Bitter (from Germany)
West Indies


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

#186 slkinsey

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 09:55 AM

This is an odd list, in my opinion. It lists potable bitters like Fernet Branca and Campari on the same list as non-potable bitters like Angostura, which doesn't make any sense to me.
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#187 eje

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 09:59 AM

That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read. Can't quite place it, though.

LeNell's have a pretty complete list of available potable and cocktail bitters on their site.

LeNell's Bitters Selection
---
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#188 plattetude

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 11:44 AM

That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read.  Can't quite place it, though.


I can!

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?


Christopher

#189 evo-lution

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 12:09 PM

This is an odd list, in my opinion.  It lists potable bitters like Fernet Branca and Campari on the same list as non-potable bitters like Angostura, which doesn't make any sense to me.

View Post


I'd agree with your sentiments. It would surely make more sense to separate the bitters between 'potable' (Campari, Becherovka, etc.) and 'non-potable' (Angostura, Peychauds, etc.).

I suppose that they all have the qualities you'd expect of a bitters though, so listing them together makes some sense...

Christopher

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Christopher?!?

Edited by evo-lution, 31 May 2007 - 12:12 PM.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

#190 eje

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 12:17 PM

That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read.  Can't quite place it, though.


I can!

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?


Christopher

View Post

Yeah, I know.

I think it seemed familiar to me because a most of it is cribbed from the LeNell's site and also the excellent bitters piece Dr. Cocktail did for the (now defunct) Martini Republic blog.
---
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#191 johnnyd

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 07:29 AM

*bump!*
I read this entire thread last week to research Underberg bitters. Today's New York Times features eG member johnder in his quest to re-create a classic bitters recipe. Fascinating!
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#192 bostonapothecary

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 09:50 AM

what are you guys doing to showcase these particular bitters? and are you characterizing them as very expressive or very integrated after the maturation?

simply booze, vermouth, bitters?
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#193 David Santucci

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 11:35 AM

what are you guys doing to showcase these particular bitters?

I've been using the Abbott's in Whiskey cocktails. They are fantastic in a Manhattan, but in an Algonquin (Rye, French vermouth, pineapple juice, bitters), they are transformative, taking an, IMO, just okay drink and making it into a really good drink. I expect they could have a similar effect on other cocktails with fruit juice.

are you characterizing them as very expressive or very integrated after the maturation?

I'm not sure if I know what you're getting at, but I would say that they are both. They are definately a very strong presence, and the aging does not seem to have changed that.

#194 Dianabanana

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 12:05 PM

Hi everyone. This is my first post.

How do we pronounce Fernet Branca? My mom can't get this in North Carolina and is always asking me to pick some up for her here in Seattle, and I never know how to pronounce the "Fernet" part. It looks French, but I know this to be an Italian product. Is it fer-nay or fer-net?

[While trying to find the answer to this online, I came across this line from an article on Fernet Branca in the SFWeekly: "If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you'll have an idea of Fernet-Branca's indelicate first impressions."]


Diane

#195 eje

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 12:11 PM

Hi everyone. This is my first post.

How do we pronounce Fernet Branca? My mom can't get this in North Carolina and is always asking me to pick some up for her here in Seattle, and I never know how to pronounce the "Fernet" part. It looks French, but I know this to be an Italian product. Is it fer-nay or fer-net?

[While trying to find the answer to this online, I came across this line from an article on Fernet Branca in the SFWeekly: "If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you'll have an idea of Fernet-Branca's indelicate first impressions."]


Diane

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Ha, well, I suppose that is a fair description!

Welcome to eGullet, Dianabanana!

My understanding, and others will likely correct me if I'm wrong, is that you do pronounce the final "t" in Fernet. I guess Italian and French differ in that.

Though, I think it should be pronounced more like, "Fair-Net", rather than the typical Fur-Net, we'd say in the US. Do you roll Rs in Italian?

Edited by eje, 29 June 2007 - 01:32 PM.

---
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If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
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#196 slkinsey

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 01:30 PM

"Fair-net" is a reasonable American pronunciation of the word. You could roll the R, but I feel this is a little affected when incorporating such a word into American English. In much the same way, it's fine to pronounce "Rigoletto" as rih-go-leh-toe, whereas rrrrrrrree-goh-leyt-[pause on the "t"]-oh, while technically correct, is going a bit far unless you're speaking Italian.
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#197 Dianabanana

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 08:45 PM

Phew, that's what I've been saying! Now I can hold my head up in the wine shop! (And thanks for the welcome.)

#198 mbrowley

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 08:04 AM

A little matchmaking may be in order for friends with a taste for bitters.

I was talking offline to a colleague this week when it hit me that the alcoholists I know – cocktailians on one hand and home distillers on the other – don't necessarily talk to each other. This is a bit like the gardeners not talking to the landscapers.

Yahoo Distillers' group is a lively discussion of among skilled home distillers (there's a separate group for newbie distillers) with sometimes wide-ranging discussions of technical aspects of distilling and aging spirits (ingredients, process, gear, woods, etc), as well as historical and ethnographic accounts of distilling spirits - and, of course, the drinking thereof.

Just as here, there's an ongoing discussion of bitters (see below for one recent post). The format's a little different and you'd have to search for bitters as a keyword, but given the overlap in interest, it might be worth peeking over the hedge to see what the distillers are unearthing.

The recent post that follows is a good introduction into what they're talking about.


Matt

-------------------------------------------------
Re: 19th century Bitters (Gin Sling/Pimm's)

In her 'One Shilling Cookery Book', Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton (1835-
65) gives a recipe for a Gin Sling (sling comes from 'schlingen' - to
swallow):

1 wineglassful of gin
2 slices of lemon
3 lumps sugar
ice or iced-water

Now if we add dashes of the English 1830 Bitters (below) we might get
an original Pimm's?

wal

--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "waljaco" <waljaco@...> wrote:
>
> I have converted the recipes to metric and scaled them down to 1 litre.
> The botanicals should be macerated for 5-10 days.
>
> Spirituous Bitters (1830, England)
>
> 7.5 g-15 g gentian root
> 7.5 g dried orange peel
> 4 g dried lemon peel (optional)
> 4 g cardamon seed
> 4 g cloves (optional)
> 1 litre alcohol (55%)
>
> ('Clarke's Complete Cellarman', Clarke W.,London,1830)
>
>
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Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

#199 jsmeeker

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 05:05 PM

Add the following . . .

Peychaud

Fee Brothers Regular

Fee Brothers Orange

Others might not be essential.

View Post



I was at my local, favorite liquor store on Friday after work and notice that they added several varieties of Fee Bothers bitters to their inventory, in addition to Angostura and Peychauds. Pretty good selection, it would seem. I guess I should have picked some up.


But speaking of bitters... I had a few Manhattans over the past week. One here in Dallas, and a few at various restaurant bars in Las Vegas. It seems it's common to omit the bitters in a Manhattan. What gives??

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#200 TBoner

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 06:13 PM

jsmeeker,

I did notice the Fee Bros. at Goody-Goody, and promptly bought everything but the Mint bitters. At $2.75 a bottle, how could I not?

As far as local bars, I asked a bartender, and he said most folks don't notice the difference, and it doesn't make sense to have them on your bar unless people start asking for them. I did. He has them now. But most places I've been have them; it's just that they don't all add them unless you request it. I even went to a bar last monthwhere the bartender asked how much sweet vermouth I wanted. She said many patrons just want a splash, like they do with dry vermouth in their martinis.

The best Manhattan I've had here is at Bob's Steak and Chop House. Well-made, attention to detail, and a healthy three dashes of Angostura without any request (though they're willing to vary the amount if you ask). I'm sure other places do them well, too.

And now that I've gone completely off topic, I guess I don't know the answer to your question: what gives? Maybe just a question of ignorance on the part of the consumer to the point where anything with whiskey and sweet vermouth will do?
Tim

#201 jsmeeker

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 08:41 PM

:)

Yeah... It was Goody Goody on Inwood where I saw the Fee Brothers. I need to pick up at least some orange bitters and take a stab at a Pegu Club.



I had a properly made Manhattan at Taddich Grill in San Francisco back in January. They put in the bitters. And stirred. Nicely done. :up:

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#202 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:56 AM

But speaking of bitters...  I had a few Manhattans over the past week.  One here in Dallas, and a few at various restaurant bars in Las Vegas.    It seems it's common to omit the bitters in a Manhattan.  What gives??

View Post


There are various theories as to why so many bartenders are bitters-averse. My theory is simple ignorance. If they aren't into classic cocktails, they aren't drinking them, and so they have little to no understanding of what Bitters (to say nothing of vermouth) do for the balance of a drink. In a world where we all grow up on sugar, sugar, and more sugar, it's probably also difficult to conceptualize how something whose very name speaks of the antithesis of sweet can do anything good for a cocktail.
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#203 Torrilin

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 11:05 AM

Chocolate mass is bitter... and tasty! That really was what convinced me to try a bottle of bitters.

#204 Ktepi

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 03:12 PM

I just made an old-fashioned with Fee Bros' Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters and Maker's Mark, and though I tossed it together pretty absent-mindedly while waiting for the oven to preheat for dinner, this is probably the best old-fashioned I've had. It's certainly the best-smelling, and somehow reminds me of this scratch-n-sniff Christmas book I had when I was a kid.

I haven't had anything by Fee Brothers before -- but this, the Lemon Bitters, the Peach, and I think the Mint (and maybe others I didn't notice) are available on Amazon, if anyone has had the same trouble I've had finding their products offline.

#205 jsmeeker

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:59 PM

I was in the liquor store today to pick up a bottle of rum to make some mojitos.

Last time I was there, I noticed they has started to carry the whole line of Fee Brothers bitters. So, today, I picked up a bottle of their orange bitters.

Now, what to do with it?

:)

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#206 jsmeeker

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 04:34 PM

ok... I made a Pegu Club.

My first! This is a nice drink!


The Fee Bros. Orange Bitters has a fantastic aroma. I can see using this in many things. Could work well in a margarita, as I think a little more orange goes well with it. Also, an Old Fashioned. I usually muddled sugar and bitters with a wedge of orange. So, I think some orange bitters in there would be nice.

And now to think how to use this on the savory side of cooking.

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#207 TBoner

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 02:17 PM

ok... I made a Pegu Club.

My first!  This is a nice drink!


The Fee Bros. Orange Bitters has a fantastic aroma.  I can see using this in many things.  Could work well in a margarita, as I think a little more orange goes well with it.  Also, an Old Fashioned.  I usually muddled sugar and bitters with a wedge of orange.  So, I think some orange bitters in there would be nice.

And now to think how to use this on the savory side of cooking.

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Jeff,

Good call on the Old-Fashioned. I use the Fee Bros. Orange in every other Old-Fashioned I make (the others usually contain Regan's).

As for cooking, I haven't used the orange. I can tell you, though, that the Fee Bros. lemon bitters are great for finishing sauces. For instance, sear some rosemary-seasoned pork chops, deglaze with vermouth, reduce by 1/2 or more, add a couple of dashes of lemon bitters, maybe a tablespoon of butter.

The lemon bitters aren't all that bitter, so they make a nice addition to cake icing or whipped cream for desserts, too. I'd guess the orange and peach, neither of which is particularly bitter (though the orange is more bitter than the peach), might do well in that context.

Perhaps the orange would also enhance a spicy Asian sauce or a good barbecue sauce...hmmm...

Other cocktails that the Fee Bros. orange bitters work in, for me at least, are Manhattans (where Regan's don't seem to work as well, IMO), Sidecars, and Ward Eights.
Tim

#208 Kent Wang

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 08:46 AM

What do you think about the Fee Bros peach? To me it tastes too similar to just a high fructose corn syrup peach flavoring agent, with little nuance, e.g. bitterness or essential oil.

Edit: Also, in what drinks do you use it? I've tried it in a Pegu Club. That was OK.

Edited by Kent Wang, 04 August 2007 - 08:47 AM.


#209 bostonapothecary

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 09:23 AM

What do you think about the Fee Bros peach? To me it tastes too similar to just a high fructose corn syrup peach flavoring agent, with little nuance, e.g. bitterness or essential oil.

Edit: Also, in what drinks do you use it? I've tried it in a Pegu Club. That was OK.

View Post



the peach might be a cool addition to a champagne cocktail.... rub a sugar cube against the skin of a lemon to suck up alot of oil then blast it with the peach bitters and angostura.... fill it up with prosecco.

my understanding is that the best prosecco's from conegliano valdabiedenne in the veneto have a peachy character to their fruit.... you can have fun putting it there yourself underneath the angostura.... i will taste its best drunk before 10 a.m.

i wonder if the peach bitters are inspired by something classic or are just purely out of someone's head recently.
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#210 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 09:41 AM

i wonder if the peach bitters are inspired by something classic or are just purely out of someone's head recently.

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Peach bitters, while rare, appear in a handful of classic cocktail recipes.

Peach bitters at Cocktaildb

-Andy
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