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Using extracts in cocktails


Craig E
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I was thinking about various interesting bitters on the market, and it occurred to me that I've very rarely seen cocktail recipes calling for the use of extracts (vanilla, almond, etc.) Why do you think that is? It would seem in some ways like a useful ingredient: liquor-based; intense, cocktail-friendly flavors; easy to procure--like an even more concentrated form of bitters.

Is the hesitation that they are often artificially made? Too one-dimensional? Or have they just been overlooked?

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I picked up some Lairds 7 1/2 year the other week and tried a variation on the Marconi wireless.  Not having orange bitters, I added some candied lime peel, 1 dash of Angostura, and a dash of homemade vanilla extract.  I'm never going to claim to be a cocktail expert, but in this particular drink, the vanilla definitely pulled everything together for me.  I forgot it one night, and the drink seemed too limey.  The vanilla really balanced things out.

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Extracts aren't usually used directly in cocktails, they can be too concentrated to use easily. But there is a long history of them being used to make syrups for cocktails; especially in the Tiki world. Vanilla syrup, lemon extract used with juice and zest in lemon syrup, almond extract in orgeat, allspice, cinnamon, etc.

 

I use extracts all the time to round out my cocktail syrups. Their use can add consistency to homemade and commercial syrups. I make an instant orgeat using almond milk, almond extract (preferably bitter almond) orange blossom water, and sugar. Takes only a minute to make and is great.

 

I also make my own high strength extracts and tinctures. Distilled as oils, hydrosols, etc., or infused, that I use to examine botanicals flavor profile. I have over 250 of these botanical tinctures, etc. so far.

Edited by JMForester (log)
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