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All About Bitters (Part 1)


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#211 TBoner

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 10:27 AM

The Fee Brothers peach are...okay. I agree that they're a bit sweet and not all that bitter or nuanced. However, they work well with bourbon. In fact, a dash or two in a sweeter bourbon, neat, is a good drink. I also think that the Fee peach are decent in an Old-Fashioned (as long as a dash of Regan's or some Angostura make it into the glass, too).
I like the champagne/prosecco cocktail idea. I also had a long drink of rum, ginger ale, and peach bitters last week that was pretty good, and rum cocktails, especially those employing dark rum, might be a good place to use peach bitters. But, their best application might be in cooking desserts. I'll have to play with that.
All that said, I've been thinking about making some homemade peach bitters that are a bit less on the sweet side. Thing is, given the small number of cocktails I'd use them in (thanks for pointing out the list of peach bitters cocktails on CocktailDB, Andy), I can't justify making a very large batch for home use at this time.
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#212 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:11 AM

Agreed that peach bitters and bourbon are very nice together, maybe the best application for the ones made by Fee's anyway. Unfortunately, like all their products, they have the mouthfeel and aftertaste of HFCS which, esp with something like peach bitters where a relatively large amount is needed, can ruin a drink (to my taste anyway). I really like Fee's: They were a pioneer of sorts in vintage cocktail ingredients, and their customer service is terriffic. I just hope they will perhaps reconsider their use of HFCS in the near future lest their contributions be overshadowed by other products coming onto the market. I think the classic cocktail crowd in general is willing to pay a little bit extra for top quality.

-Andy
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#213 johnder

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:12 AM

We use the peach bitters in the Trident --

1 oz Aquavit
1 oz Manzanilla
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dash peach.

It's pretty tasty -- although the drink isn't for everyone.
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#214 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:23 AM

We use the peach bitters in the Trident --

1 oz Aquavit
1 oz Manzanilla
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dash peach.

It's pretty tasty -- although the drink isn't for everyone.

View Post


I've been wanting to try that for quite a while now. Need to get me some Aquavit.
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#215 TBoner

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 09:41 AM

Andy,

Is it HFCS or is it glycerine? They specifically list glycerine, which can tend to yield a corn syrupy mouthfeel, as an ingredient on every type of bitters they make.

At any rate, I like Fee's Old-Fashioned and Whiskey Barrel Bitters, and I think their orange bitters have a fair number of uses (usually in opposite places from Regan's). However, I do think they may need to rethink the bitterness of their other bitters, and dial down the emphasis on the fruit flavor and/or dense mouthfeel and sweetness. I haven't sampled their other products, but I do appreciate their customer service enough to eventually give those a shot.

On the subject of Aquavit, I want to buy some, but I feel like there's probably as much or more variation in the flavors as there is in the world of gin, and I always wonder what the best all-rounder might be for cocktails. I've done some reading of old threads, and maybe I just need to do some more. Either way, it'll be a while before I buy a bottle, given the immense amount of liquor currently here and the several additional bottles I'll be picking up this week.

Edited by TBoner, 05 August 2007 - 09:46 AM.

Tim

#216 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 10:06 AM

Ah yes, glycerine it is, my mistake. I'm so used to griping about HFCS I wasn't thinking :raz: And yeah, I agree on all points re: Fee's. There was some discussion along those lines some time back on Drinkboy that made clear that Fee's were unlikely to change the OB recipe drastically at any rate, as it is supposedly the same one they've been making since the '50s, but I don't think it would hurt to maybe try an 'advanced' version of each bitter, sort of like they did with the OF bitters by aging them, and see what the response is like. I donno, it couldnt hurt.
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#217 slkinsey

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 03:54 PM

We use the peach bitters in the Trident --

1 oz Aquavit
1 oz Manzanilla
1/2 oz Cynar
2 dash peach.

It's pretty tasty -- although the drink isn't for everyone.

This is a modification/tweak? I thought the Trident was an "equal parts" drink?
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#218 Alchemist

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 12:41 PM

There is an artical in the Chicago Tribune today. If you can't get a hard copy it's on line at the trib under food.

The 1 tablespoon of essential oil from grapefruit and lemon is a tipo. My guess is it would take over 100 of each fruit to get a table spoon of oil. And would be the only thing you could taste.

Toby



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#219 slkinsey

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 06:56 AM

Bring on the bitters: Chicago bartenders make their own to achieve the complexity they desire. By Michael Nagrant

Edited by slkinsey, 16 August 2007 - 06:56 AM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#220 Alchemist

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 07:37 AM

Thank's Sam, When I get back to NYC I'll buy you a couple a' cocktails for your tek work. I am such a luddite.

Toby



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#221 mkayahara

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 05:28 PM

I recently picked up some dried gentian with an eye to making up a batch of my own bitters, but now I have a question: when a recipe calls for an amount of gentian by volume (say, 3 teaspoons), is that powdered? The stuff I have is in small pieces, ranging from the size of, say, a peppercorn to the size of a cardamom pod or bigger. Will this work, or should I run it through my coffee grinder?
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#222 TBoner

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 10:28 PM

I recently picked up some dried gentian with an eye to making up a batch of my own bitters, but now I have a question: when a recipe calls for an amount of gentian by volume (say, 3 teaspoons), is that powdered? The stuff I have is in small pieces, ranging from the size of, say, a peppercorn to the size of a cardamom pod or bigger. Will this work, or should I run it through my coffee grinder?

View Post


I've used mine in the same form, tiny pieces of dried root. It's been perfect in both aromatic bitters and - from what I can tell - the orange bitters I have going right now.
Tim

#223 eje

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 10:29 PM

Interesting!

I don't usually see gentian powdered, and frankly powdered herbs just make filtering a pain. The very fine powder you usually find Cinchona (quinine bark) in, sucks to get out of any solution.

On the other hand, I do usually give most spices a bit of crush in the mortar and pestle, if they are in larger pieces.

Edited by eje, 05 September 2007 - 10:29 PM.

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#224 gethin

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:14 AM

I was at a trade show in london yesterday and heard rumours that Angostura are working on a pomegranate bitters . Anyone know anything of this ?


gethin

#225 Scotttos

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 07:59 AM

I personally love my version of Abbott's in both the Martinez and Manhattan. 


John I was at D&C last night and had a Martinez that just blew my mind. When I asked the bartender about it he said it had some of your homemade Abbott's in it. They had a very clear and undeniably delicious effect. Excellent work.

#226 Alchemist

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:19 PM

Ahhh bitters. Well, the first thing to do is decide what your flavor profile you want out of your bitters. If you are going for something dark, use overproof rum or rye along with grain alcohol. You want to have high as possible alcohol content, to extract the most flavor from your botanicals. If you are going for lighter flavors use high proof gin, and grain alcohol. Think about the character of your flavors, you want a variety to amp up the complexity.

In a two liter glass container, sterilized with boiling water, put 1.5L and add the chinchona and gentian, a quarter of a teaspoonish each. Then add the rest of your herbs, which should be dried, and whatever citrus you have decided on. Keep in a cool place agitating daily for 14 days. Taste and adjust the balance, then start making cocktails immediately.

Toby



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#227 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 06:50 PM

Just got a bottle of Fee's peach bitters and thought I'd fiddle around with a Flying Fish Cocktail. The cocktaildb recipe as is turned out too sweet by a long stretch, so I added a dash of Regan's orange bitters, and extra 1/4 ounce of gin. Much better, but still a bit off kilter and too sweet, with the Maraschino and peach bitters ending up very orgeat-y.

Tried again, and the following worked nicely:

2 oz gin (Plymouth)
1/2 oz orange curacao (Cointreau)
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
1 dash peach bitters (Fee's)
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's)
4 drops Angostura bitters

Stir and strain all but the Angostura bitters; float the four drops.

In the end, it's the sort of drink that might, like a Pegu Club, be a good introduction to gin and bitters, but not in the sour family. Of course, it's a little odd to me that one needs to add extra bitters to make peach bitters bitter, but there you have it.
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#228 Alchemist

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Posted 14 October 2007 - 12:04 AM

this should be on the other thread but...I am ready to make a comprehensive line of bittres under The Violet Hour banner, is there a market for it?



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#229 avant-garde

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Posted 14 October 2007 - 01:41 PM

this should be on the other thread but...I am ready to make a comprehensive line of bittres under The Violet Hour banner, is there a market for it?

View Post


Hmmm...You should send me some free samples so I can accurately answer that question. HA!
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#230 Chris Hennes

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Posted 14 October 2007 - 04:22 PM

This is my first post here, so I apologize if it would be better form to start a new thread for this topic...

The biggest thing stopping me from making my own bitters is the intimidating ingredient list, but I'm inspired by what appears to be an upsurge in homemade bitters at high-end cocktail bars. For those of you who have made your own, where have you been ordering the various barks, flowers, etc.? I wanted to have a go at replicating Abbott's Bitters.

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#231 eje

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 09:13 AM

Hey Chris, welcome to posting on eGullet and specifically to the cocktail forums.

I buy herbs or spices for bitters at local health food or natural grocery type places.

For example, here in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery has a particularly fantastic selection of bulk medicinal herbs and spices.

Online, I've ordered from Frontier Herbs and had good luck.
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#232 evo-lution

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 10:43 AM

I was at a trade show in london yesterday and heard rumours that Angostura are working on a pomegranate bitters . Anyone  know anything of this ?


I also heard this on the grapevine, so got in contact with Mickael Perron who says :-

Hi Adam,

That's the first time that I hear about that.
I don't think that it's true at all, beacuse we are not planning to create a portfollio of bitters, first we would like to introduce properly Angostura Orange in the world.

Let me know if you need more info, but that one you get from grapevine doesn't sounds right to me.

Cheers mate.

mickael


:smile:

Edited by evo-lution, 15 October 2007 - 10:44 AM.

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#233 avant-garde

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 08:16 AM

this should be on the other thread but...I am ready to make a comprehensive line of bittres under The Violet Hour banner, is there a market for it?

View Post


To be honest, you could certainly do mail order. Provided that's something you want to be bothered with as a business. Your bar has already garnered much acclaim and I think offering these sorts of things is a great way to keep people connected to your "brand."

While stores may be hesitant to stock them, there is a huge boom in bitters being used again in cocktails. I think this would lead a lot of people to your site and thus create more buzz around your bar. For the love of God I had to order my Fee Bros and Peychaud's from amazon.com. What's the world coming to? I think this would be great for you to pursue. I'd buy some.

edited to say: I know you don't currently have a website, but you could...

Edited by avant-garde, 19 October 2007 - 08:22 AM.

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#234 Darren72

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:50 PM

For the love of God I had to order my Fee Bros and Peychaud's from amazon.com.  What's the world coming to?


What's wrong with Amazon.com?

#235 avant-garde

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 04:31 PM

For the love of God I had to order my Fee Bros and Peychaud's from amazon.com.  What's the world coming to?


What's wrong with Amazon.com?

View Post


Nothing at all. But Bitters? I should be able to get those at the licka sto.
"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

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#236 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 07:00 PM

OK, I'm diving in, with a plan to make Hess's House bitters, Erik's clementine bitters, and John's grapefruit bitters. I just placed an order with Mountain Rose Herbs, who have 4 oz packages of gentian, etc. More when I get the package.
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#237 Chris Amirault

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 02:33 PM

The delivery from Mountain Rose came today and my daughter's home sick, so I got cracking on the three bitters.

I used John's recipe for Grapefruit Bitters from Recipe Gullet exactly (click). My working recipes for Erik's two are below, in half-batches and converted to weight measurements.

Hess House Bitters (revision of Erik's revision, trying to lighten up on the spices):

2 cups rye (Old Overholt)
7 g dried gentian
15 g ginger (julienne)
3 g whole cloves
10 g cardamom pods (cracked)
4 g star anise
10 g cinnamon
4 g allspice

Will let this sit for two weeks, strain, etc.

Erik's Clementine bitters (based on this intriguing post).

Peel of 3 Clementines (30 g), minced
Zest of 2 medium oranges (15 g), minced

5 g cinnamon (about 2 sticks)
1 whole clove
10 g dried orange peel
3 g chamomile
10 g gentian
2 bay leaves
1 c vodka
1 c rye

1/2 c water
1 T molasses (both later)
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#238 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 07:16 AM

Woke up this morning and noticed that the rinds soaking for John's grapefruit bitters recipe were barely covered. I used a cup of vodka, and I'm tempted to add more. I'm also tempted to let it sit more than 12 hours. Resist? Give in?
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#239 johnder

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 08:17 AM

Woke up this morning and noticed that the rinds soaking for John's grapefruit bitters recipe were barely covered. I used a cup of vodka, and I'm tempted to add more. I'm also tempted to let it sit more than 12 hours. Resist? Give in?

View Post


cover it with a little more and let sit 2 hours. you dont want to over extract.
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#240 eje

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 10:38 AM

Wacky, never expected anyone to make those.

I have to admit, aside from my bizarre and perhaps unsuccessful attempt at creating a bitters using only ingredients I have foraged or grown in and around San Francisco, I've not been really continuing with bitters projects.

Hard enough to convince others to make cocktails you create without having them have to go through a month long project before hand.

But, most folks who have tried the clementine bitters have given me positive feedback, so I'll be curious what you think.

Next you'll have to go for the Hellfire Bitters!

John, do you think I could make the grapefruit bitters with pomelo? Seems like it would be cool.

Oh, and what's a good kitchen scale for these small measurements?
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