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Bitters in classics that don't call for them

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Finally had the opportunity to add to my standard bitters(ango, Regans orange, and Peychaud's) 3 new ones: Bitter Truth lemon, grapefruit and chocolate(all seem excellent imo).

 

I've tried them out in some recipes that called for them and messed around with old fashioned variations etc. I also got to thinking...why not add some lemon bitters to a sidecar? Orange bitters to a margarita? Grapefriut bitters to a Hemingway daiquiri? Chocolate bitters to a 20th century? Do you think this enhances these classics or totally changes them? Just overkill?

 

Came across an article that suggests replacing the cointreau in a margarita with simple syrup and orange bitters. That sounded a bit odd to me and not really what I'm getting at. Seems like you'd loose the alcohol content of the cointreau.

 

http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/margarita-recipe/

 

Btw, would TBT orange bitters be a waste if I already have Regans?

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I add bitters as you suggest when I'm playing around. I wouldn't say it makes changes any more fundamental than switching brands of base liquor, etc. Sometimes it's better, sometimes worse, but rarely dramatically so in either case. And TBT orange and Regans taste completely different, so no, I don't think it's redundant to own both.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm with Chris and tend to do this in messing around mode, when it just seems like a drink needs a little something.  I think it is fun to experiment with different bitters (potable or non-potable) in martinis, either in addition to, or replacing vermouth.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I'll go even further, and in both directions (is that proof of impending schizophrenia?):

 

on the one hand, bitters of various sorts can really add punch to the flavor profile of a classic drink, particularly when you're swapping out a base spirit for somethind different and add, say, some mole bitters to a mezcal manhattan, or throw in grapfruit bitters to anything with campari.

 

That being said, there are times when I dash in angostura or Regan's orange #6, both of which I love dearly and apply with a heavy hand, and end up feeling like I've highjacked my simple G & T. 

 

Bitters are the spice cabinet of cocktails:   used properly, they bring out the best in an underlying recipe; used in excess, they can sometimes take over a drink -- and sometimes the difference between the two lies in what mood you (or the customer) is in.

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"The thirst for water is a primitive one. Thirst for wine means culture, and thirst for a cocktail is its highest expression."

Pepe Carvalho, The Buenos Aires Quintet by Manuel Vazquez Montalban

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Yojimbo said it well. It's usually fun experimenting and you can definitely improve or detract from the base cocktail.

That said, I love mole bitters in a Margarita (particularly a Tommy's Margarita...agave syrup/lime, no Cointreau).

A slight dash of orange in Negroni variations (particularly if Aperol is used instead of Campari) can be nice.


Edited by BillBuitenhuys (log)

@AZBittersLab

AZBittersLab.com

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I sometimes add bitters to a Bobby Burns.  Even though the Benedictine gives the drink all the spice it needs, I can't help but add at least a few drops of bitters.  My wife has latched onto using TBT Celery Bitters in her Bloody Marys.  A purist might say that if a drink doesn't have bitters in it, it isn't a cocktail.  In fact, in the Old Waldorf Cocktail Book, under the Cocktails section, there is one drink wherein the first "ingredient" is No Bitters, thereby suggesting that it's the exception that proves the rule.

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Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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