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All About Bitters (Part 1)


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#241 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 07:49 PM

Thanks, John. I didn't add any more vodka and strained it tonight, finishing it with some Vietnamese burnt sugar syrup in my fridge. Made a fine Pisco Sour with it tonight.

As for scale, I use a My Weigh KD-600, which just has 1g units. Good enough for this sort of thing, at least in these quantities.
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#242 Chris Amirault

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 01:26 PM

I'm eager to hear recommendations for cocktails that benefit from grapefruit bitters. I'm thinking that a Bennett Cocktail would hit the spot. Other ideas?
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#243 johnder

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 01:36 PM

I'm eager to hear recommendations for cocktails that benefit from grapefruit bitters. I'm thinking that a Bennett Cocktail would hit the spot. Other ideas?

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I like them in the blinker cocktail myself.

Also doing a fitty fitty variation.

1.5 oz Beefeater
1.5 oz Noilly Dry
1 long strip grapefruit peel
1 dash grapefruit bitters

Put all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice (including peel)
Stir and let sit for 30 seconds.

Strain out into a/p coupe.
no garnish
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#244 johnder

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 01:38 PM

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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I am sure it would work with Pomelo's. It would be pretty awesome I imagine.

I am using this scale.
Very happy with it. It is pricey, but has 0.1 g resolution.
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#245 bostonapothecary

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 01:44 PM

I'm eager to hear recommendations for cocktails that benefit from grapefruit bitters. I'm thinking that a Bennett Cocktail would hit the spot. Other ideas?

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what about something with creme de cocao?

i really liked my grapefruit bitters but had a hard time with intensity so i turned it into an "equatorial amaro" "the campari of the carribean!"

my recipe needs a revision. i know i'm missing alot of details that could make it really cool. i want to mimic compari's sugar/alcohol model to make it pretty intuitive to use... maybe track down some cochineal as well...

before you add as much sugar as campari it needs to be almost sickly bitter. so i think there would need to be something besides only citrus rind doing the bittering...
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#246 eje

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 05:57 PM

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

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By the way, I do recommend this. Whether you make the hellfire bitters or Erik Adkin's Chile Tincture it is much handier for cocktails to have that spicy kick without the added burden of the vinegar.
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#247 Chris Amirault

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 07:57 PM

Paired up the grapefruit and clementine bitters in swell Pegu Club Cocktail. Thanks, Erik -- it turned out great.

The Hess house bitters have been strained and are resting for a while.
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#248 MattJohnson

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 11:32 AM

I don't generally make cocktails at home. But I often have boubon on hand and usually drink it neat. I've made manhattans sans bitters occasionally.

Because of this forum/thread I went out and bought some angostura bitters and vermouth (M&R was the only thing they had, going to do a taste test when I get to a better store) and have been having a blast the last couple of days trying different ratios. I just finished my bottle of woodsford reserve and I'm onto knob creek. I'm a big fan of eagle rare, but my grocery store stopped carrying it. I'm finding I like them a bit heavier on the bitters.

Just a thanks from a convert.

#249 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 12:06 PM

Grabbed a bottle of the Fee Bros' Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters at LeNell's and, man, that's good stuff. A little bird told me that she grabbed all the bottles in the tri-state area, so if you're having a hard time finding them, get thee to Red Hook.
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#250 David Santucci

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 12:28 PM

Man, I was just there on Wednesday and they were out of the Fee's Whiskey Barrel plus all the Bitter Truth bitters (which were the main thing I had gone for). It was my first time making it out there, and, apparently, Christmas shoppers had cleaned them out of a LOT of things -- the place was full of their sad little "Sorry, out of stock" signs. Y'all need to stop buying up everything and let some of us poor Southern folk buy some too :)

#251 Troy Sidle

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 06:04 AM

I'm currently working on my first batch of bitters. I'm making orange bitters following Regan's no. 5 recipe as described in Joy of Mixology. I've realized that my bitters will be unique as I interpret the recipe, especially in regard to dried orange peels.

I'm wondering how much dried orange peels others of you are using. Ultimately, I'm wondering how much of the pith does or does not go into a given recipe. Regan calls for eight ounces, but eight ounces of dried orange peels without the pith takes a lot more oranges that eight ounces, pith intact.

Any comments?

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#252 slkinsey

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 06:18 AM

I believe Gary's recipe calls for purchased dried (bitter?) orange peel, not homemade. I don't believe it's quite the same thing to use homemade citrus zest.
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#253 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 07:12 AM

I think that Sam's right. I found some big bags at my local Chinese market, which worked out fine when I made Erik's clementine bitters.

ETA: Welcome, Troy!

Edited by chrisamirault, 25 January 2008 - 07:24 AM.

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#254 mkayahara

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 07:25 AM

But surely anything you can buy can also be made at home? I mean, I have a couple of Seville oranges sitting down in the kitchen right now; there's no reason I couldn't dry their peels and use those, right?
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#255 slkinsey

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:08 AM

Sure you could make it yourself. But there are some difficulties: First, it's somewhat likely that your oranges are coated. Second, they might not be quite the right kind of orange peel. Third, it could be prohibitively expensive to do it yourself. Fourth, it seems likely that the end result won't be as good as store-bought.
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#256 weinoo

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:48 AM

I think I'd take store bought organic oranges, which I can also scrub, over dried orange peels from China - who knows what they used to grow and preserve that stuff?
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#257 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:13 AM

I sense the need for side-by-side trials.
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#258 slkinsey

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:30 AM

Here is one pound of organic dried orange peel for less than ten bucks. How much money do you figure you'd have to spend on organic oranges to get a pound of dried peel?
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#259 Chris Hennes

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:33 AM

Here is one pound of organic dried orange peel for less than ten bucks.  How much money do you figure you'd have to spend on organic oranges to get a pound of dried peel?

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That's a lot of Screwdrivers... :blink:

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#260 bostonapothecary

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 10:53 AM

Sure you could make it yourself.  But there are some difficulties:  First, it's somewhat likely that your oranges are coated.  Second, they might not be quite the right kind of orange peel.  Third, it could be prohibitively expensive to do it yourself.  Fourth, it seems likely that the end result won't be as good as store-bought.

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so much good citrus is in season... i just ordered some sevilles and was gonna try making a very tiny batch of "creole shrubb" just to see how close i could get to the real deal... i've also got some bergamot peel sitting in peirre ferrand ambre... how do you know if your oranges are coated in wax and what can you do about it if they are? is a light scrubbing all you can do?

if i'm going through a specialty produce distributor is it likely they not coated because they are sold to pastry chefs for their peel?
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#261 weinoo

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 11:01 AM

Here is one pound of organic dried orange peel for less than ten bucks.  How much money do you figure you'd have to spend on organic oranges to get a pound of dried peel?

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Great find - I bought 2 giant organic oranges at Whole Foods this week for over $3, so quite a lot.
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#262 eje

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 01:09 PM

Interesting Bitters article in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

Couple take small-batch bitters in new directions, Kara Newman

One year ago, Avery and Janet Glasser were San Francisco barflies, searching for the perfect cocktail. Now, they have relocated to the East Coast, where on a recent evening they perched at the bar at New York speakeasy Death & Co., sipping cocktails laced with their own Bittermens bitters...The Glassers brew artisanal bitters in quirky flavors in their New York home kitchen. Compared to traditional bitters, which complement gin and vodka drinks, Bittermens is designed to blend with aged rum, Tequila, bourbon and whiskey - dark, complex liquors "that don't tend to play well with bitters," according to Avery Glasser.


Though, ahem, bitters inspired by the flavors of Mexican Mole sounds awfully familiar.
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#263 Troy Sidle

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:05 PM

It's likely Regan was implying store-bought dried orange peels. And for purity's sake, maybe I should have gone that route.

However, once I've discovered how to make dried orange peels I think work well, it opens up the possibilities for any dried peel (lemon, lime, grapefruit) to be added to a batch of bitters. And that's the real goal - discovering new possibilities.

But, the home-made versus store-bought issue aside, the real question is how much does pith play a role in bitters? I suppose only more experimentation would provide the answer.

#264 eje

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:10 PM

Well, I'm working my way through a 5# bag of organic satsuma mandarins, in the hopes of drying the peels and using them for bitters.

At least you get your allowance of Vitamin C.
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#265 Troy Sidle

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 05:44 PM

While looking at the possibilities for different home-made bitters I ran accross Robert Hess's article for Oh Gosh where he writes:

"... I now have almost 30 bottles of home-made bitters, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with them all. Anyone up for swapsies?"

I'm a few weeks away from my first batch, but I love the idea. Anybody be willing to trade some bitters?

#266 Pam R

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:11 AM

Great idea! Here are the guidelines for swapping or exchanging items. Anybody interested in participating should contact Troy Sidle via PM (personal message). All of the arrangements and thanks should also be via PM. But once you get the bitters, please post and let us know what you think!

#267 BittermensAG

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:17 PM

Though, ahem, bitters inspired by the flavors of Mexican Mole sounds awfully familiar.

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The inspiration to do Mole bitters was thanks to Joselino Solis, the ex-lead bartender at Bacar in San Francisco. Bacar was our closest cocktail bar when living in SF and we spent many an evening with Craig, Joselino and the rest of the team as guinea pigs for new recipes.

Joselino was a lover of tequila and mescal. When Craig invited us to come along with the Bacar staff on a tour of Distillery 209, we decided to come up with a bitter that Joselino could use to augment some of his tequila cocktails.

Sorry to say, but I've never seen your recipe before reading your post this afternoon - but it does seem to be an interesting infusion. :biggrin:
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#268 Chris Amirault

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 08:26 PM

Troy, what's your ETA? I've got some tweaked Hess house bitters, eje's clementine bitters, and johnder's grapefruit bitters on hand.
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#269 Troy Sidle

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 02:32 AM

Thanks for your interest, Chris.

I have 2 more weeks to go. Then I'm on a short vacation.

So, I should have samples ready by Valentine's Day.

Edited by Troy Sidle, 29 January 2008 - 02:34 AM.


#270 JayHepburn

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 08:26 AM

While looking at the possibilities for different home-made bitters I ran accross Robert Hess's article for Oh Gosh where he writes:

"... I now have almost 30 bottles of home-made bitters, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with them all. Anyone up for swapsies?"

I'm a few weeks away from my first batch, but I love the idea. Anybody be willing to trade some bitters?

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Troy, while I did make a batch of Hess House bitters, that post is in no way affiliated, endorsed or otherwise connected to Robert. However, I am still in the possession of said 30 bottles of Hess and Regans' Orange No. 5 bitters, so if anyone is up for a trans-Atlantic swap do let me know!

Edited by JayHepburn, 29 January 2008 - 08:27 AM.

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