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Chris Amirault

All About Bitters (Part 2)

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in beer the IBU doesn't even sum up the perceived bitterness of a beer completely because it is relative to the contrasting power of the malt aromas.

...

i personally like the lack of rules, it is probably why there is so much awesome avante-garde stuff to drink.

True, but if you know your style and the amount of malt, you can use IBU to adjust for variation in hops and hit pretty much the right bitterness.

The reason I ask is that I was wondering about Peychaud's. I don't claim any great sensory finesse, but they impress me as even less bitter than Regan's Orange Bitters and the least bitter of the classic bitters I know (can you call them bitters? :wink:)

I don't think anyone is arguing for rules regarding what can be used in drinks (as long as it doesn't make you go blind, etc. but it really is an arguement about categories, although there is perhaps an undercurrent that certain products are less worthy). I don't think I've ever seen a drink recipe that uses the term "tincture" and that's a problem for the splitters vs. the lumpers. All & all, I think it's like trying to get "herb tea" drinkers to realize they are drinking infusions, not tea.

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Are non-potable bitters added to a cocktail in order to make the cocktail bitter?

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They're added for lots of reasons, including to add a bitter element, sure. But in most cases it'd be an overstatement to say that they "make the cocktail bitter," as if their function is to transform an otherwise tasty beverage into a simply bitter one.

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and then to top it all off there is a known culture of misinformation to protect production techniques.

And let's not forget people accepting products sold under a banner that they aren't. :wink:

this is not a big deal because these products can be curated. if we add a layer curation we can celebrate one of those beautiful historical quirks.

the wine industry has been making vague labels for more than a century now. strangely enough, of all the things on a wine label, the color choices end up expressing the most responsibility to the wine because of their cross-sensory tonal sympathies.

They're added for lots of reasons, including to add a bitter element, sure. But in most cases it'd be an overstatement to say that they "make the cocktail bitter," as if their function is to transform an otherwise tasty beverage into a simply bitter one.

when i use "bitters" i primarily think of aroma, in terms of intervals & overtones, the ordinary & and the extraordinary. i also think of the amount of dissolved aroma in the drink, and then i also think of price. made well, bitters can be a cheaper source of extraordinary aromas than buying more expensive spirits.

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And now, forever more, you cannot simply assume that the bottle of vinegar you have in your hands will be acidic -- even though that characteristic utterly defined the product for as long as it has existed. None of the recipes you have for vinegar work with the stuff as a result, and you have to fend off more and more pretenders who, as a marketing ploy, choose not to let you know whether the bottle you are holding in the store aisle is truly vinegar or some other, non-acidic ersatz brew.

Perhaps you wouldn't find that frustrating. If not, then we've found our disagreement, and your capacity for relativism exceeds my own!

This discussion is remarkably similar to a recent discussion in these forums about products marketing themselves as "gin" that do not have a primary character of juniper. One wants a bitters to be bitter and work like "a bitters" just as one wants a gin to taste of juniper and work like "a gin."

Are non-potable bitters added to a cocktail in order to make the cocktail bitter?

Yes and no. Asking this question is a bit like asking "is salt added to a dish to make it salty?" Well, yes it is added to make the dish salty, but it also does a whole lot of other things that you might want. The salient point is that, if you add "salt" to a dish, you are always expecting that you are adding "saltyness" along with whatever other reasons you might be adding salt. Similarly, when you add bitters, the expectation is that you are adding bitterness along with whatever else it is that you're adding. Frankly, this seems pretty simple to understand: salt adds saltyness, bitters add bitterness. If you want to add aromas and "intervals & overtones, the ordinary & and the extraordinary" -- whatever that is supposed to mean -- without bitterness, then we have other words we can use to describe these products... words such as "tincture" and "extract" and "hydrosol" and whatnot.

It's all good and well if someone has a conception of bitters, their characteristics, uses and effects, that does not include bitterness as a primary characteristic. Hey, to each his own. Someone may have a conception of "automobile" that does not include "four-wheeled motor vehicle" as a primary defining characteristic. And that's fine for them. But it doesn't change the fact that it is a primary defining characteristic of an automobile, and bitterness is a primary defining characteristic of bitters. Frankly, it seems a bit silly that there is some question as to whether bitterness is a primary defining characteristic of something called bitters.

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Are non-potable bitters added to a cocktail in order to make the cocktail bitter?

Yes and no. Asking this question is a bit like asking "is salt added to a dish to make it salty?" Well, yes it is added to make the dish salty, but it also does a whole lot of other things that you might want. The salient point is that, if you add "salt" to a dish, you are always expecting that you are adding "saltyness" along with whatever other reasons you might be adding salt. Similarly, when you add bitters, the expectation is that you are adding bitterness along with whatever else it is that you're adding.

Thanks, Sam, that analogy makes a lot of sense to me.

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You'd think that Imbibe in particular would bear that standard. I'll see what I can find out.

Update: Paul Clarke is pushing the question up the Imbibe editorial food chain. Will report back.

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Regarding the topic of bitters versus tinctures, I think Sam and Chris have given some pretty good analogies/explanations.

when i use "bitters" i primarily think of aroma, in terms of intervals & overtones, the ordinary & and the extraordinary.

I have to be honest the majority of the time I have no clue what you're going on about and I don't think you do either, the only thing I have really deciphered is that you seem to suggest you can smell bitterness which as far as I'm aware - and I'd be glad to be shown otherwise - you can't. There's a lot of science in your postings that simply isn't true...

The reason I ask is that I was wondering about Peychaud's. I don't claim any great sensory finesse, but they impress me as even less bitter than Regan's Orange Bitters and the least bitter of the classic bitters I know (can you call them bitters?)

Sadly Peychaud's is not as bitter as it used to be. They still have a decent level of bitterness to be honest.

I don't think I've ever seen a drink recipe that uses the term "tincture"

You haven't?

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when i use "bitters" i primarily think of aroma, in terms of intervals & overtones, the ordinary & and the extraordinary.

I have to be honest the majority of the time I have no clue what you're going on about and I don't think you do either, the only thing I have really deciphered is that you seem to suggest you can smell bitterness which as far as I'm aware - and I'd be glad to be shown otherwise - you can't. There's a lot of science in your postings that simply isn't true...

saying something has "intervals" of aroma is just like saying it has "layers". the analogy comes from painting. in the early 20th century some painters wanted to explore depth in the picture plane by creating color intervals.

"overtones" refers to the result of mixing two things. sometimes when two things go together you cannot parse them. two things become one new thing. why do certain products blend multiple types of orange peels together? to create an attractive overtone. it is more or less another painting analogy. if you tried to describe the spectrum of that overtone you would probably end up using a cross sensory analogy.

the ordinary and extraordinary are not that complicated a concept. many people believe we have motivational drives to create & seek the extraordinary. the aromatic tonality of a sunkist supermarket orange is ordinary, but we prize other more obscure types for their every so slightly different character. why does everyone these days where funky colored sunglasses or chuck taylors in colors that are not so common? me wanting my oranges, my reisling, or my cocktails to smell unique is not that crazy an idea.

the idea of describing one sense in terms of another is not a crazy idea. we do have commonly accepted analogies like "warm & cool" colors after all. we also have synesthesia & synesthetes and growing amounts of research on the topic... there is tons of research that examines "sweetness enhancement" in food where aromas increase or decrease the perception of sweetness. we also have multi sensory amplification where things like salt change the threshold of perception of aromas. lots of people are studying it. sorry if it is new to you. up thread i posted a great paper on the subject. here it is again...

multisensory perception of flavor


Edited by bostonapothecary (log)

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It's not that these things are new to me, I had an idea that you were writing in analogies after eating a thesaurus :wink:, it's that;

There's a lot of science in your postings that simply isn't true...

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It's not that these things are new to me, I had an idea that you were writing in analogies after eating a thesaurus :wink:, it's that;

There's a lot of science in your postings that simply isn't true...

humor me and read that paper, i'd love to know what you think about it.

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It's odd that you present this paper as fact but seem to disregard facts surrounding the bitters category as irrelevant as they don't fit into your perception of the category?


Edited by evo-lution (log)

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the idea of describing one sense in terms of another is not a crazy idea. we do have commonly accepted analogies like "warm & cool" colors after all. we also have synesthesia & synesthetes and growing amounts of research on the topic... there is tons of research that examines "sweetness enhancement" in food where aromas increase or decrease the perception of sweetness. we also have multi sensory amplification where things like salt change the threshold of perception of aromas. lots of people are studying it.

I'm pretty sure this is the only thing correct you've said to this point. Not to rag on you but you're seriously putting across some bad information here. I'd like to correct you, if possible.

one of the tricky aspects of talking about flavor and its numerous divisions is that we cannot just say "bitter" or "sweet", we have to specify gustatory bitterness or olfactory bitterness. we cannot assume that all language defaults to gustation. this is particularly important to understanding the language attached to things like dry wines.

There is no such thing as "olfactory bitterness." Bitterness is purely a taste, and a hereditary one at that. So unless you've evolved to smell poisons, you can't "smell" something bitter.

another thing about "bitters" is that the term "bitter" is a "halo dumping" catch all for gustatory and olfactory divisions that decrease the perception of sweetness.

it is very common to hear people say something is too "bitter" when it is actually too "acidic". this phenomenon of mislabeling things as "bitter" is discussed in Auvray & Spence's paper "the multisensory perception of flavor

the olfactory division part assumes that you can categorize all aromas in terms of gustation (and i don't think i'm the only person that uses the olfaction into gustation "olfactory construct"). it is easy to identify olfactory sweetness and umami, but it is very difficult to break down the other olfactory divisions so they often get lumped with "bitter".

You can't really use the term halo-dumping in this situation. Halo-dumping primarily refers to scientific analysis. In the paper, it goes on to say that

"‘Halo-dumping’ can occur whenever the appropriate response alternative for a salient attribute is unavailable to participants. This can lead participants to ‘dump’ the values for a salient attribute that is not available in the range of alternative response scales provided (e.g., the strength of a fruity odor) onto one of the other rating attributes that have been provided (e.g., the sweetness of the fruity odor)."

You're not applying any "rating attributes". It's a cocktail, not a double blind test.

But the more glaring error here is the last part which runs completely contrary to the article you posted. There is no such thing as "olfactory sweetness" either. Sweetness is a taste, just like bitterness. Any apparent "sweet smell" isn't because you can smell sweetness, it's because exposure to a smell is linked with the taste of sweetness. In your paper it states:

"When ‘sweet’ odors, which in themselves possess no taste (they cannot be detected by the taste receptors) are added as flavorings to solutions that participants have to taste, they tend to increase the perceived sweetness of those solutions (Cliff & Noble, 1990; Frank & Byram, 1988; Frank, Shaffer, & Smith, 1991; Schifferstein & Verlegh, 1996). For example, when caramel odor is added to a sucrose solution, the taste of the resulting mixture is perceived as being sweeter than the pure sucrose solution when presented by itself; and conversely, adding a caramel odor has also been shown to suppress the sourness of solutions containing citric acid (see Stevenson et al., 1999). The reverse phenomenon, sweetness suppression, has also been documented. For example, certain odors, such as angelica oil, have been reported to reduce the perceived sweetness of a sucrose solution to which they have been added as a flavoring (Stevenson et al., 1999). The odors that typically induce sweet tastes appear to be related to previous instances of co-exposure with a sweet taste, such as might naturally occur during eating (e.g., Prescott, 2004; Stevenson, Prescott, & Boakes, 1995; Stevenson, Boakes, & Prescott, 1998). For example, the odors of vanilla, caramel, strawberry, and mint induce sweetness enhancement in western countries where people often experience those odors with sucrose. On the other hand, non-western participants do not describe some of these odors as sweet, probably due to a less frequent pairing of these odors with sweetness in their food culture."

There is no sweet smell. The only reason something smells sweet is because it's been linked with a sweet taste.

It seems to me that you're getting highly confused by the paper. You have some portions of it right but are also confusing the heck out of the others. The paper you presented mainly goes about linking taste and smell and how affecting the aroma of a product can also affect the taste. The paper talks about using fragrances such as caramel, mint, strawberry, vanilla in aroma form (without flavor whatsoever) to improve the sweetness of a drink. Alternatively, using an aroma such as angelica can suppress the sweetness of a drink. This is the role of bitters and amaro. The basic idea behind a bitter/amaro is that there is a bittering agent that is either enhanced or suppressed by the other aromatics added to the tincture. By focusing on aromas that suppress sweetness, you make a tincture more bitter and vice versa. This is why there is such a broad range of bitters/amaro. Some are extremely bitter, some not so much, and some are rather sweet. It all has to do with the other herbs used along with the bittering agent to either squash or highlight the sweetness of the sugar it uses.

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The following is based only on myself -- how I perceive flavors and tastes.

I question the strength of sweetness enhancement for me. Section 2.5 discusses the importance of experimental setup in demonstrating the effect. Some think it is an artifact -- an error in the experiment's design ("halo dumping"). I'd also be curious to see the degree of the effect; I bet it is minor compared to measuring accuracy and ingredient sugar consistency (e.g. different brands of orange liqueur). (I haven't read any of the primary research to confirm this hypothesis.)

My hypothesis is that sweetness enhancement, if it exists at all (especially for a trained taster), is swamped by other consideration in a cocktail -- measuring error, sweetness of ingredients, other flavors, tastes, the progression of flavors and tastes during the sip and so forth.

More interesting are certain taste interactions. In particular:

Sweet and Sour moderate each other, creating a unique sweet/sour flavor that is distinct from dry (the absence of both, like straight gin, rather than dry like in an acidic wine).

Sweet moderates bitter, but not strongly. Most amari are still quite bitter, despite lots of sugar. Chocolate and perhaps coffee seem to be an exception.

Sour moderates bitter strongly, hence those wonderful sour + amaro drinks.

So how does this relate to non-potable bitters? If I don't believe in "bitterness enhancement", then I'd prefer that bitters actually taste bitter and things that are flavorful but not bitter be called something else, like tinctures.

My thinking about this has informed the algorithms involved in how Kindred Cocktails suggests "similar cocktails". The calculations are done based upon the flavors characteristics of the ingredients. The results aren't uniformly great (and never will be perfect), but I usually see a drink in the similar cocktails list that makes me think, "oh, that sounds good."

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I don't think I've ever seen a drink recipe that uses the term "tincture"

You haven't?

Fair enough but realistically these are pretty much being used as a custom bitters formulation in a bulk process. Quite different from making a couple of drinks on the spot. I haven't revisited the whole book, and there is a milk punch that calls for the aromatic tincture (contains valarian - don't know if you consider that bitter - certainly medicinal). In any case it isn't really germane to the issue of developing new ingredient recipes for a category that for all practical purposes doesn't exist in the marketplace.

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It's odd that you present this paper as fact but seem to disregard facts surrounding the bitters category as irrelevant as they don't fit into your perception of the category?

i hope the paper was at least an interesting read. verbal culinary communication does not have a lot of mutually agreed upon terms. we rely on very vague terms like "dry" and "savory". these words describe multisensory perception. every extra sense that a word tries to take responsibility for expands the range of the meaning making it less articulate. i see the term "bitters" as having morphed into one of these multisensory words. the name which eludes to gustation has often become a cross sensory analogy for the frequent nature of the aromas.

maybe for the sake of consumer protection a case could be made to reign the term in, but i see plenty of opportunity to curate products informing consumers what they are in for. i also feel the name ended up where it is by laymen and not solely exploitative opportunist industry people. the idea of a word wandering around among the generations seems kind of cool to me.

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one of the tricky aspects of talking about flavor and its numerous divisions is that we cannot just say "bitter" or "sweet", we have to specify gustatory bitterness or olfactory bitterness. we cannot assume that all language defaults to gustation. this is particularly important to understanding the language attached to things like dry wines.

There is no such thing as "olfactory bitterness." Bitterness is purely a taste, and a hereditary one at that. So unless you've evolved to smell poisons, you can't "smell" something bitter.

it is an analogy hence it gets a prefix. i've heard a thousand people say a wine fermented to dryness was sweet. i've heard a thousand people ask for a less sweet dry wine only to favor a wine with a different sort of aroma. what can we infer about the language they select?

based on my library of experiences i could probably smell something raw and un-abstracted and tell you if it was going to be bitter or not. it would be based on a similar experience.

if you believe in synesthesia you could indeed potentially feel the sensation of gustatory bitterness from an aroma. my olfactory construct does not claim anything is a one for one trade of sensations but it is basically the closest sensory analogy we have.

another thing about "bitters" is that the term "bitter" is a "halo dumping" catch all for gustatory and olfactory divisions that decrease the perception of sweetness.

it is very common to hear people say something is too "bitter" when it is actually too "acidic". this phenomenon of mislabeling things as "bitter" is discussed in Auvray & Spence's paper "the multisensory perception of flavor

the olfactory division part assumes that you can categorize all aromas in terms of gustation (and i don't think i'm the only person that uses the olfaction into gustation "olfactory construct"). it is easy to identify olfactory sweetness and umami, but it is very difficult to break down the other olfactory divisions so they often get lumped with "bitter".

You can't really use the term halo-dumping in this situation. Halo-dumping primarily refers to scientific analysis. In the paper, it goes on to say that

"‘Halo-dumping’ can occur whenever the appropriate response alternative for a salient attribute is unavailable to participants. This can lead participants to ‘dump’ the values for a salient attribute that is not available in the range of alternative response scales provided (e.g., the strength of a fruity odor) onto one of the other rating attributes that have been provided (e.g., the sweetness of the fruity odor)."

You're not applying any "rating attributes". It's a cocktail, not a double blind test.

what technical name would we give the common phenomenon of cocktail/wine tasters labeling acidic experiences as bitter because they do not have the vocabulary to call it acidic? discussion of a cocktail experience seems like it can be similar to a blind test because the inputs are often just vague symbols to the imbibers.

But the more glaring error here is the last part which runs completely contrary to the article you posted. There is no such thing as "olfactory sweetness" either. Sweetness is a taste, just like bitterness. Any apparent "sweet smell" isn't because you can smell sweetness, it's because exposure to a smell is linked with the taste of sweetness. In your paper it states:

"When ‘sweet’ odors, which in themselves possess no taste (they cannot be detected by the taste receptors) are added as flavorings to solutions that participants have to taste, they tend to increase the perceived sweetness of those solutions (Cliff & Noble, 1990; Frank & Byram, 1988; Frank, Shaffer, & Smith, 1991; Schifferstein & Verlegh, 1996). For example, when caramel odor is added to a sucrose solution, the taste of the resulting mixture is perceived as being sweeter than the pure sucrose solution when presented by itself; and conversely, adding a caramel odor has also been shown to suppress the sourness of solutions containing citric acid (see Stevenson et al., 1999). The reverse phenomenon, sweetness suppression, has also been documented. For example, certain odors, such as angelica oil, have been reported to reduce the perceived sweetness of a sucrose solution to which they have been added as a flavoring (Stevenson et al., 1999). The odors that typically induce sweet tastes appear to be related to previous instances of co-exposure with a sweet taste, such as might naturally occur during eating (e.g., Prescott, 2004; Stevenson, Prescott, & Boakes, 1995; Stevenson, Boakes, & Prescott, 1998). For example, the odors of vanilla, caramel, strawberry, and mint induce sweetness enhancement in western countries where people often experience those odors with sucrose. On the other hand, non-western participants do not describe some of these odors as sweet, probably due to a less frequent pairing of these odors with sweetness in their food culture."

There is no sweet smell. The only reason something smells sweet is because it's been linked with a sweet taste.

my olfactory construct makes no claim that gustation is being stimulated by aromas. the brain does not receive straight forward gustatory sweetness from these aromas, rather it could be said it receives something like it based on our past experiences. gustatory sweetness only becomes the closest analogy we have and therefore influences our language decisions.

Alternatively, using an aroma such as angelica can suppress the sweetness of a drink. This is the role of bitters and amaro. The basic idea behind a bitter/amaro is that there is a bittering agent that is either enhanced or suppressed by the other aromatics added to the tincture. By focusing on aromas that suppress sweetness, you make a tincture more bitter and vice versa. This is why there is such a broad range of bitters/amaro. Some are extremely bitter, some not so much, and some are rather sweet. It all has to do with the other herbs used along with the bittering agent to either squash or highlight the sweetness of the sugar it uses.

it seems like we could create some sort of gustatory analogy to describe how angelica can suppress sweetness and when we identify other aromas that also suppress sweetness we could do the same.

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it is an analogy hence it gets a prefix. i've heard a thousand people say a wine fermented to dryness was sweet. i've heard a thousand people ask for a less sweet dry wine only to favor a wine with a different sort of aroma. what can we infer about the language they select?

based on my library of experiences i could probably smell something raw and un-abstracted and tell you if it was going to be bitter or not. it would be based on a similar experience.

if you believe in synesthesia you could indeed potentially feel the sensation of gustatory bitterness from an aroma. my olfactory construct does not claim anything is a one for one trade of sensations but it is basically the closest sensory analogy we have.

What we can infer about their language is that what you're supposedly discussing from the paper works. Obviously if the wine is "fermented to dryness" then this means that the aroma profile of the wine is causing the taster to view the wine as sweet. A wine with heavy fruit flavors (berries, cherries, apple, pear, melon, etc) will obviously taste sweeter since, as per the article, it is commonly linked with the intake of a sucrose/sugar. The people that favor a wine with a different aroma obviously found one that wasn't as robust on fruit aromas and, therefore, the wine did not appear as sweet.

what technical name would we give the common phenomenon of cocktail/wine tasters labeling acidic experiences as bitter because they do not have the vocabulary to call it acidic? discussion of a cocktail experience seems like it can be similar to a blind test because the inputs are often just vague symbols to the imbibers.

Inexperience. Halo-dumping illustrates that ALL participants in the experiment have trouble fully expressing flavors based on the criteria given to them. The criteria given to them is their own experience. Those with more experience will obviously suffer from less halo-dumping as they have the levels of depth required to adequately describe what they're tasting. It'd be the same thing as putting out 10 bottles of scotch with varying peat levels. To someone unfamiliar with peated scotch, they'll all just taste like smoke. But to someone that's been drinking scotch for twenty years, each scotch will have different characteristics to the peat reek.

my olfactory construct makes no claim that gustation is being stimulated by aromas. the brain does not receive straight forward gustatory sweetness from these aromas, rather it could be said it receives something like it based on our past experiences. gustatory sweetness only becomes the closest analogy we have and therefore influences our language decisions.

So you're saying that tastes AREN't stimulated by aromas? That goes completely contradictory to paper you cited. Other than that, yes, I believe you're right.

it seems like we could create some sort of gustatory analogy to describe how angelica can suppress sweetness and when we identify other aromas that also suppress sweetness we could do the same.

We could.

Overall, I still think you're confused here. And for the benefit of everyone reading, could you dumb down your words? I had to do a Google search of "olfactory construct" and the only website that came up with that phrase was yours. So that didn't help much.

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Since this discussion appears to have moved into the region of semantic nuances, I'm going to shove in my oar, too.

If something is called a 'bitter', it is reasonable to expect bitterness to be its salient feature; beyond that, the bitterness may be balanced by other flavours (or not), be intensely or mildly bitter, or have distinctive aromatic elements that support or counter expectations.

Given the definition of 'tincture', it would be reasonable to expect these compounds to be strongly flavoured (perhaps, but not necessarily bitter, given their often medicinal origins), intended to be used in small quantities. For most people, 'tincture' is going to be a far less familiar term than bitter.

What the use of such terminology really comes down to is whether or not you believe the language belongs to everyone, and is the common currency of communication, or that marketers (or anyone others) are privileged to do what they wish with language, and insist that their take is correct (for those who fall into the latter camp, I have some shares of the Brooklyn Bridge for sale at a very attractive prices :wink: )

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Fair enough but realistically these are pretty much being used as a custom bitters formulation in a bulk process. Quite different from making a couple of drinks on the spot. I haven't revisited the whole book, and there is a milk punch that calls for the aromatic tincture (contains valarian - don't know if you consider that bitter - certainly medicinal).

:laugh:

You mentioned you'd never seen a recipe calling for tinctures so I pointed out the first example that came to my head. It's almost like there's a willingness not to accept a difference between tinctures and bitters!

Bars all over the World use tinctures in their recipes.

In any case it isn't really germane to the issue of developing new ingredient recipes for a category that for all practical purposes doesn't exist in the marketplace.

:blink:

Which category doesn't exist in the marketplace? The two in discussion here are bitters and tinctures, both are readily available to buy and both can be made with experience.

I find it baffling that people can't accept the differences. Is it the same for the gin category (Old Tom, Genever, London Dry, et al)? The whisk(e)y category (Bourbon, Scotch, Rye, et al)?

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What the use of such terminology really comes down to is...

people putting their own interpretation on something that is already clearly defined. As proven in this thread. :wink:

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it seems like we could create some sort of gustatory analogy to describe how angelica can suppress sweetness and when we identify other aromas that also suppress sweetness we could do the same.

We could.

Overall, I still think you're confused here. And for the benefit of everyone reading, could you dumb down your words? I had to do a Google search of "olfactory construct" and the only website that came up with that phrase was yours. So that didn't help much.

i recommend reading Aroma: The cultural history of smelll

the authors examine numerous cultures and look at how they divide their olfactory world with language. hence the term "construct". societies create countless constructs like good/bad, masculine/feminine, or earth/water/fire and these are highly subjective and very cultural.

because we constantly juxtapose, mix, and pair things we also need a way to organize our olfactory world. to make it less subjective it makes sense to use the closest possible cross sensory analogy.

making cocktails is easy. i can arrange endless delicious drinks. attaching language to them is the real challenge and a source of fun. the culinary arts are full of people that can feel things they cannot say. this is due to not having the vocabulary to translate an experience from one frame of mind to another.

i would love to hear anyone else's strategies for organizing and reconstructing aromas. mine has proven consistent, flexible, and useful across all realms of the culinary arts.

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What the use of such terminology really comes down to is...

people putting their own interpretation on something that is already clearly defined. As proven in this thread. :wink:

But, apparently not defined clearly enough if this cooption of the term has been so easy and pervasive, as seems to also have been evinced throughout this thread.

Weren't you on exactly the other side of the "words mean things" debate in the Old-Fashioned topic?


Edited by KD1191 (log)

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But, apparently not defined clearly enough if this cooption of the term has been so easy and pervasive, as seems to also have been evinced throughout this thread.

If anyone were to take the time to study the category they'd see what bitters are, and it's definitely not "all concentrated liquid in dasher bottles."

All that's been offered thus far from those opposing the definition of bitters that I presented is an individual perception that is essentially redefining a category. :laugh: If we are to accept that then products such as Worcester Sauce and Tabasco Sauce are also bitters. Can you see how ridiculous that is? :wacko:

Weren't you on exactly the other side of the "words mean things" debate in the Old-Fashioned topic?

Nope, the cock-tail consists of spirit, sugar, water and bitters. The Old-Fashioned is a cock-tail and as I understand it not a specific recipe. They are one and the same thing. That was my point in that thread, and it has no relevance to this discussion.

Bitters are a specific product, the cock-tail is a family that encapsulates a number of specifics.

Even if I was on "the other side of the words mean things debate" I can assure you the bitters in this case would mean one thing and one thing only. :wink:


Edited by evo-lution (log)

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