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All About Bitters (Part 2)


Chris Amirault
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I wouldn't say it's an "essential" (IMO, the only essentials are Angostura, Peychaud's and the orange bitters of your choice), but they are quite interesting. Can be especially useful to dry out a drink if it's got a touch too much sweetness.

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How does its flavor compare to absinthe?

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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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What do you notice beyond wormwood? Or, are they a take on Malört?

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I think a great many of the bitters on the market today are horribly overrated.

As for underrated or insufficiently know, I would nominate Dutch's Colonial Bitters. It's a bitters that can be used in all the non-exotic contexts in which you might use Angostura, but without bringing all those island spices to the table.

I bought these today, after you and Martin Doudoroff described them in similar terms. I haven't had much of a chance to use them yet but so far they're very promising. Lots of great temperate woodland notes and a similar complexity and presence to Angostura. It's sort of Angostura if Angostura suggested New England instead of the Caribbean; or Angostura with the tonality of Boker's. The herbal aromatics coupled with the strong anise note remind me of Chartreuse, too. And that same anise note makes me think Dutch's would make a good, more complex substitution for Peychaud's. Thanks for the tip.

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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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  • 9 months later...

Using some cheap Chinese vodka I found (53.7&% APV distilled from sorghum with a little bit of barley and wheat) I started my first three batches of bitters. Aside from the coffee ones, I used Chris Amirault's Hess House Bitters as a starting point. The coffee ones were from the book Bitters but modified somewhat. I have to use gentian as it is the most readily available bittering agent (well, I can get wormwood, but I've yet to see a recipe that uses it as the sole bittering agent).

Coffee, cinnamon and cocoa nibs: self-explanatory. The coffee (I used some nice single origin beans) is supposed to dominate.

Die Boer: I worked off the spices used in boerwors: allspice, coriander seeds, cloves, black peppercorns and nutmeg. Allspice and coriander are meant to be the main players.

Star anise, black cardamom, coriander seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon and clove.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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  • 2 weeks later...

Introducing the latest in artisanal bitters: ground cricket.

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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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Introducing the latest in artisanal bitters: ground cricket.

Any purpose to this other than shock factor? I am trying to imagine the taste of toasted crickets and what that could bring to a cocktail... some people say they taste like sunflower seeds.

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Based on their press materials, part of the point is "normalizing entomophagy through cocktails," i.e., getting people to think it's okay to eat bugs. Plenty of people think that's the future of protein for humans as the strains of maintaing livestock take their toll on the planet.

The rest of it seems to be, as you rightly put it, shock value.

DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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This wouldn't be my first run-in with aromatic insect-based additives. I'm reminded of the 'Water Bug Extract' up-charge at various specialty restaurants in Southeast Asia. You'd add a few drops to a dish, inhale deeply, and pay some ridiculous amount...not unlike having truffles grated over your risotto.

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True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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  • 5 months later...

Hello all,

 

I'm pretty excited by just how much bitters have exploded recently. I've only been into the whole scene for a little while and there is so much to try and experiment with!

 

I am also making my own bitters now and since when I get into something I become obsessed with it, there is no going half way.

I currently have 34 mason jars of botanicals macerating. I am trying both the mixed and individual routes, with 5 jars of pre-mixed roots and herbs, and 29 individual tinctures.

 

For mixes I am making two recipes from a book I bought, a Raisin Btters and a Cola Bitters.

 

I am also doing two variations on a personal recipe;

Lime and Black Pepper Bitters

lime peel

black peppercorns 

cardamom

fennel seeds 

star anise

licorice root 

cinnamon

cloves

One in rye and one in vodka.

 

Then I have a faux Root Beer Bitters

sarsparilla root

burdock root

cinnamon

vanilla bean

star anise

licorice root

Spearmint (couldn't find wintergreen)

molasses

 

for individual ones I just grabbed everything I could from my local herb and spice store.

 

I've read most of this thread, and I have some questions.

 

I'm doing both an orange peel and a lemon peel tincture in addition to the two lime focused mixes, so it sounds like this jelly thing is something I'm going to have to deal with. When should I expect that to start forming and is there anything that can be done to minimize it?

 

Is macerating the botanicals for longer better or can I macerate them for too long? and how long is too long?

 

Thanks for all the information you have shared already, this has been a good read. I'll let you all know how they are once they're done.

 

Cheers!

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  • 1 month later...

Interested in picking your brains.  I want to make some black walnut bitters.  I can't seem to determine from reading if it's the leaf, the nut or the nut encased in it's hull that is the flavour component.  There are still some green walnuts (albeit kinda big) available to me.  

 

I haven't tasted the Fee Brother's offering to see if they taste more like nocino or more like the dried nuts.  

 

Thoughts?

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  • 5 weeks later...

I saw some blog post recently about making bitters and other such things out of ingredients in a "flavor library" - a collection of single flavor infusions. So, if I wanted to have a gentian, clove, ginger, and cinnamon bitters, for example, I'd make it out of little bits of each infusion, rather than infusing the whole batch of ingredients together.

 

I can see the appeal, as it allows for infinite adjustment of the finished product, but I was wondering if there is any discernible difference in taste between something done like that, and something infused the old fashioned way, all together.

 

 

ETA, I see the post linked above describes exactly the same, though that's not the blog I had in mind.

Edited by Hassouni (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Has anyone made much of the newish Peychaud's barrel aged bitters released early last year? Don't think there has been much mention of it here on the forum that I can find (although the search function is always a bit suspect). I am seeing it now in a couple of places locally but don't know much about it. Have seen a limited number of reviews so far (OK, haven't looked too hard as I am interested in what this community's experience, if any, has been!) and this one in particular makes note of an enhanced cherry character.

 

Any opinions?

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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I wish that would happened to me when something new comes out... :B

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If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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Well, I have to admit that I got really excited for a moment when I first hard about it. Lol. When my current bottle runs out (I am close), maybe I will switch to that one.

Same with the new Cynar (that one I tried) - it's fine, but not a must-have in my opinion.

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I confess that I can't really tell the difference when I use Fees Barrel aged bitters instead of the equivalent non-barrel aged ones, so I'm a skeptic about the whole idea.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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