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Chris Amirault

All About Bitters (Part 2)

355 posts in this topic

To say you only need, or can make do, with an orange bitters and Angostura is wholly wrong in my opinion.

Adam - I was going to just message you directly, but I do think that this discussion is germane to the topic, so I'll response here.

In no way am I or my site claiming the above. All I provide is an entry point for someone who is, maybe, uneducated on the subject of cocktails or a bit intimidated by it. My goal is to get readers excited enough about one or two drinks that they then move on to bigger and more interesting things. So, am I saying "only these"? No. But unless people start their journey somewhere, they'll never wander down the dark alleyways of discovery. Just like the starter Lego sets only make us want the bigger, more complicated ones.

This is how my personal experience has been -- I started off with a bottle of Angostura which I never used because no one taught me what it was for or why it was good. I learned the basics, became more excited, and ultimately found my way here -- chatting bitters with you and the group here. I think the process has worked out beautifully.

I absolutely agree with your thoughts here, apologies if my gripe appeared to be aimed at you as it wasn't intended to be.

When it comes to recommending or starting off with any product - bitters, gin, rum, whisk(e)y, and so on - the only guaranteed bottles you should keep in your cupboard are the ones that fit the drinks you often consume.

The days of using London Dry in any drink calling for gin, Angostura Aromatic in any drink calling for bitters, or bourbon in any drink calling for American Whisk(e)y are gone. We now have the opportunity to make selected and informed opinions based on the wealth of products at our disposal. Too much information can dazzle, but a gentle push in the right direction will open up doors you never knew were there...


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Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

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On the availability discussion: I was at a Bevmo today, and was heartened to see Angostura, Peychauds and Regan's Orange all in stock, on the shelf. That was unthinkable not too long ago.

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I've not made bitters yet myself, but my assumption is that they are all made by combining the botanicals and letting the "cure" together. In gin making, some manufacturers like Leopold's distill the botanicals separately and then combine/blend them after the fact. Has this approach been applied to bitters making? Would it work?

Funnily enough, I actually addressed this just a couple of posts before yours;

To understand the effect of macerating/compounding different botanicals I would recommend starting out with separate infusions, however when you're making your batch I would highly recommend infusing the botanicals together. If this means you have to infuse botanicals before/after the rest so be it.


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Though I hardly have a fraction of Adam or others' experience in this topic, I will affirm that combining separate infusions produces a product that tastes more like a product of separate infusions than a unified product. To that end, I still have most of this stuff in little jars, as I haven't been able to figure out workable combinations of the tinctures.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, I think your reference guide will prove quite useful. Final question before I make the leap (again, apologies for not scouring all the pages of this topic for a simple answer): from where are those in the US buying ingredients? I only really know of Small Flower and Frontier Coop.

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Picked up another vintage bottling yesterday*, Egon Braun Hamburg Amargo Bitters. Unopened and labelled. Should drop this week...

*Much to the annoyance of Ritty. :wink:

Ha! I picked up something new to me too. It's called Underberg. On the label, it says it's not a beverage. It has something in common with Fernet Branca.

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Thanks for directing me here. I've read about a quarter of the posts, but hadn't seen this one. Before I look too carefully at your notes, I'm going to sample my tinctures, so as to not be influenced when I try describing some of the same things.

Though I hardly have a fraction of Adam or others' experience in this topic, I will affirm that combining separate infusions produces a product that tastes more like a product of separate infusions than a unified product.

Even though it may produce an inferior product, I'm planning on mixing separate tinctures, until I think I have a combination that works. Then I'll macerating several items at once, when I'm done experimenting.


Edited by Ritty (log)

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Picked up another vintage bottling yesterday*, Egon Braun Hamburg Amargo Bitters. Unopened and labelled. Should drop this week...

*Much to the annoyance of Ritty. :wink:

Ha! I picked up something new to me too. It's called Underberg. On the label, it says it's not a beverage. It has something in common with Fernet Branca.

Underberg is quite exciting stuff.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Writing up some tasting notes for the Khoosh today...

Now that I've finally shaken off the cold that's been bugging me recently I've had the chance to sit down and write some detaied tasting notes for the Khoosh Bitters.

Colour: Gold (almost identical in colour to the bottle of Black Bush I have on my whisky shelf)

Nose: Multi-layered and intriguing. The first thing that springs to mind is rum and raisin ice cream, but there's also notes of Coffee Creme chocolates and a little spice. Very similar to dark rum.

Palate: Intensely bitter and sharp, an initial hit of sweet sherry and citrus moves into coffee fudge, hazlenut and bitter dark chocolate.

Finish: Long and warming with bitter coffee dominating hints of sherry and oak.

Ha! I picked up something new to me too. It's called Underberg.

Is this a newer bottle of Underberg (wrapped in paper from head to toe) or an older bottling (with a regular label)? I recently acquired an older bottle of Underberg myself. £0.99 on eBay.


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Egon Braun Hamburg Amargo Bitters.

So these arrived today;

egonbraun1.jpg

egonbraun2.jpg

Not opened them (yet) but been examining the bottle and I'm pretty confident these were kicking around during Prohibition as there is a stamp on the bottle which reads as follows;

IMPORTANT

Approved for importation into the U.S.A for non-beverage purposes only, as per letters dated Washington, D.C, November 21st, 1922 and September 22, 1923 by Federal Prohibition Director.

egonbraun3.jpg

A very interesting find considering the close proximity to Repeal Day and the fact I'm going to be in Hamburg for it.

These bitters were originally called Egon Braun Angostura Bitters and were changed to Egon Braun Amargo Bitters for the US market.

As you may or may not know, the Angostura Aromatic we know of today were originally called Dr. Siegert's 'Amargo Aromatico' (translates to 'Aromatic Bitters'), with Amargo then being used by other companies as a generic term.


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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How would you characterize the effects of age on these remarkable, old bottlings?

I think this would depend wholly on the style of bitters, the botanicals in the recipe, how they've been stored and if they're opened/unopened. There's always a little evaporation and I'd expect there to be a little flavour loss from certain botanicals.

The Khoosh seem to have lost a little flavour but still pack a punch. I really need to do some digging into the company to find out more about how they were made and what botanicals were used.

I've just opened the Egon Braun Hamburg Amargo Bitters and they are quite sensational. There was a little evaporation here but the sediment present would probably sustain some flavour. This was a corked bottle but dipped in wax so that has helped them keep their flavour I'd guess.

They've kept a fair amount of flavour which I think is down to the fact they predominantly consist of spices such as clove, cinnamon, anise and so on. Having messed around with dozens of 'Angostura' recipes from old science/medical journals and the like I know exactly what these are about. A simple comparison regarding their flavour profile would be a combination of Angostura Aromatic and Fee Brother's Barrel-Aged Bitters, but toning down on the sweetness.


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Okay, so I'm now the proud owner of a little bottle of Fee's rhubarb bitters. What to do with it? We are most likely to mix drinks using gin or rye. I'm thinking a rhubarb rye Manhattan would be nice. Actually I've sampled it straight and I can't say as I get much rhubarb flavor, more like cherry. Actually I'm starting to wish I had a hunk of freshly baked pumpernickel bread and a bowl of tart warm rhubarb. Any ideas for drinks using rhubarb bitters?

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Fee's rhubarb bitters. What to do with it?

These go great with any citrus flavor, such as Aperol. I'm particularly fond of:

Rhubarb and Rye

1 1/2 oz Rye (preferably overproof)

1 oz Aperol

1/2 oz Rhubarb bitters

1/2 oz Lemon juice

1 Lemon zest (as garnish)

It's fashioned after other bitters-heavy drinks, like the Gunshop Fizz.

Other Rhubarb Bitters recipes on Kindred Cocktails.


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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That sounds yummy, I'm on it. Just have to get some Aperol.

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My local Bristol Farms now carries a pretty extensive selection of Fee's bitters, including rhubarb, cherry, plum, chocolate, grapefruit, peach, and a few others.

I already have the old fashioned bitters. Are there any others that are highly recommended?

Edited to correct typo


Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)

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Okay, so I'm now the proud owner of a little bottle of Fee's rhubarb bitters. What to do with it?

Adding some form of bittering agent to to classify them being branded as bitters would be a good start... :wink:


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Okay, so I'm now the proud owner of a little bottle of Fee's rhubarb bitters. What to do with it?

Adding some form of bittering agent to to classify them being branded as bitters would be a good start... :wink:

You have it all wrong. These are simply "New Eastern Bitters." It's an emergent conception in the evolution of what we call "bitters" that de-emphasizes the bitter part and focuses on the other elements.

:raz:


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Just tasted it solo, and while I agree it is only mildly bitter, it is still noticeably bitter. That said, Angostura, which I find quite mild, is more bitter, particularly on the finish.

Personally, I like this product as a flavoring. I'd like it to be more bitter (and use alcohol), but it is an interesting flavor. It plays nicely with citrus.


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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My local Bristol Farms now carries a pretty extensive selection of Fee's bitters, including rhubarb, cherry, plum, chocolate, grapefruit, peach, and a few others.

I already have the old fashioned bitters. Are there any others that are highly recommended?

Edited to correct typo

I like having Fee's orange bitters on hand to complement Regan's. The Fee's can be a nice way to add orange notes without adding sweet (or much bitter but frankly that doesn't bother me - they are what they are and I don't see any reason they need to conform to anyone's pre-conceived idea of how they area supposed to taste). Try 1/2 and 1/2 with Regan's, too.

I think Dr. Cocktail had a hand in developing their Peach Bitters, but I haven't tried them. I could see how they would be fun to play with.

I like the old fashioned bitters quite a bit and usually use them when Angostura is called for.

Fee's are quite inexpensive compared to other brands so you might consider that either a reason to buy a variety to try or a reason to avoid them and spend the extra on the brands such as those made by others on this forum.

And I think Fee deserves a medal for keeping the US in the bitters business through the long cocktail drought of the late 20th Century.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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they are what they are and I don't see any reason they need to conform to anyone's pre-conceived idea of how they area supposed to taste

Any pre-conception is based on the reality of what should be expected from a bitters. I've mentioned it on this forum before but there is a real double-standard and hypocrisy when it comes to this specific category, however it runs throughout the drinks industry as a whole to be honest.

You have it all wrong. These are simply "New Eastern Bitters." It's an emergent conception in the evolution of what we call "bitters" that de-emphasizes the bitter part and focuses on the other elements.

:raz:

Sounds ridiculous... :wink:


Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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After a second tasting I had to admit that the Rhubarb bitters tasted a lot like cherry cough syrup. Maybe it can be used in combo with Angostura for a more bitter cherry flavor in a Manhattan? I haven't had a chance to experiment with it since I'm in NY now, but I guess I didn't expect it to be so sweet. My only experience with bitters is pretty limited, and we typically only have Angostura, Peychaud's and Regan's orange in the house.

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