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guajolote

All About Bitters (Part 1)

594 posts in this topic

I'm very new to cocktail mixing, however I was able to persuade family going to Seattle to bring back Maraska Maraschino and Peychaud's bitters.

When I got them I tried a Casa Blanca from cocktaildb:

2oz white rum

0.5oz lime juice

0.25oz orange curacao

0.25oz maraschino

1 dash angostura

I mixed it up with Peychaud's instead of Angostura. It was a very nice drink, and I could pick up the nutty flavours of the Maraschino, but I didn't notice the bitters at all.

Tonight I'm writing a paper and trying to stay awake, so I'm just drinking coke. However, I put a few dashes of Peychaud's in it and WOW...I'm going to have to do this everytime I drink coke. The two work together magically creating a light tasting cherry cola.

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I'm very new to cocktail mixing, however I was able to persuade family going to Seattle to bring back Maraska Maraschino and Peychaud's bitters.

When I got them I tried a Casa Blanca from cocktaildb:

2oz white rum

0.5oz lime juice

0.25oz orange curacao

0.25oz maraschino

1 dash angostura

I mixed it up with Peychaud's instead of Angostura.  It was a very nice drink, and I could pick up the nutty flavours of the Maraschino, but I didn't notice the bitters at all.

Tonight I'm writing a paper and trying to stay awake, so I'm just drinking coke.  However, I put a few dashes of Peychaud's in it and WOW...I'm going to have to do this everytime I drink coke.  The two work together magically creating a light tasting cherry cola.

Peychauds Bitters, while wonderful, have a much lighter flavor than Angostura, and benefit from being used in larger doses. I typically use around 4 dashes in my Sazerac, compared to 1-2 dashes of Angostura in a Manhattan of the same volume. Now of course bitters aren't typically viewed as something you're supposed to actually taste in the sense that you taste the gin or whiskey or whatever in your drink, but more of something that would be sorely missed if it were omitted. A common and apt metaphor for bitters is that they are used in drinks the way spices and seasonings are used in food. And if you think Peychaud's are good in coke, try Angostura sometime. Hooboy its good. Also, a tablespoon of Angostura in a glass of ginger ale with lots of ice is an excellent stomachache remedy, and has yet to fail for me. Both of these are reputed to be effective against hangovers as well, should anyone out there ever chance to get one :-P

-Andy

PS: Peychaud's are also an excellent way to add color (and subtle complexity) to a drink without adding sweetness. Makes a very appealing pink color. Instantly makes a pale white or off-white cocktail into a pink 'girly' drink (though some of the best drinks ever are pink or red).


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Fee Brothers now has a limited edition barrel aged bitters out.  It's outstanding.  Get it while you can.

Could anyone suggest somewhere in Boston where these bitters might be available to buy ?

My business partner is going there next week and it would be great if he could do one useful thing while he's there !

I'd also like to add at least one bottle of something interesting to his shopping list - is there any chance of him finding Bluecoat gin there ?

gethin

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Fee Brothers now has a limited edition barrel aged bitters out.  It's outstanding.  Get it while you can.

Could anyone suggest somewhere in Boston where these bitters might be available to buy ?

My business partner is going there next week and it would be great if he could do one useful thing while he's there !

I'd also like to add at least one bottle of something interesting to his shopping list - is there any chance of him finding Bluecoat gin there ?

gethin

Your best bet is to email Fee Bros. info@feebrothers.com and ask for retail outlets in Boston.

They had none by me, so I was able to buy direct from them.

ETA: You may be SOL though, because I don't see them on the website any more.


Edited by Bricktop (log)

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So I have to say I am pretty happy with the unaged abbots batch. After using it in a few drinks and soliciting the opinions of various industry experts who have actually tasted the real Abbot's it seems to be a pretty decent replica. That said I am really curious to see how the batch in the barrel will turn out.

John


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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So now that I have both a decent batch of Abbott's and a quasi decent batch of Boker's, the question is which is used for what.

I am seeing conflicting reports that a Manhattan calls for Boker's and some that call for Abbott's.

I know Boker's is the older bitters of the two, so my assumption is that a Manhattan first used Boker's then switched over to Abbott's and finally to Ango.

I see there are certain recipes that call for Boker's alone; the Artillery, Japanese and others that call for Abbots; Swan, Martinez.

Any experts care to chime in which is used for what? I personally love my version of Abbott's in both the Martinez and Manhattan. Have yet to try the Boker's in anything yet. That's tonights task.

John


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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My understanding is that the use of Bokers is sort of a tell that the recipe came from Jerry Thomas. What I do not know is if he uses this almost exclusively because it was his favorite, or because it was more widely available. I think in general different brands of aromatic bitters are more or less interchangeable according to preference, although they will sometimes yield drastically different results (though not necessarily bad results).

-Andy


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Is there a list someplace of all the bitters availiable? I've never heard of lemon or bitter truth before. I love playing around with bitters, but the chances of finding any obscure types around me are almost zero. You're lucky to find Fees Orange in one out of ten stores next to 4 sizes of Angostura. I've heard of Bokers (sp?) but isn't that defunct? I've ordered Regan's, Peychaud, Stirrings Blood Orange, and the Fees collection but that is the extent of what I know exists.


Edited by Snowy is dead (log)

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Is there a list someplace of all the bitters availiable?

Would you be including the likes of Jagermeister, Campari, Becherovka, etc. in that list?

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?

Bitters still available today include:

Angostura bitters (from Trinidad and Tobago)

Amer Picon (from France)

Averna (from Italy)

Becherovka (from Czech Republic)

Beerenburg (from the Netherlands)

Campari (from Italy)

Dimitri (from Costa Rica)

Martini & Rossi ChinaMartini (from Italy)

Fee Brothers bitters (aromatic, orange, mint, lemon and peach), from Rochester, New York; the aromatic bitters contain Angostura bark

Echt Stonsdorfer (originally from Silesia now made in Germany)

Fernet Branca (from Italy)

Fernet Stock (from the Czech Republic)

Gammel Dansk (from Denmark)

Jägermeister (from Germany)

Mint bitters

Orange bitters

Peach bitters

Peychaud's Bitters (from Louisiana, United States)

Quinquina (from France, originally from South America)

Ramazzotti (from Italy)

Riga Black Balsam (from Latvia)

St. Vitus (from Germany)

Swedish bitters

The Bitter Truth-Aromatic-,Orange-and Lemon Bitters]Germany

Underberg (from Germany)

Unicum (from Hungary)

Other brands/types of bitters have also included::

Appenzeller (from Switzerland)

Boker's

Boonekamp's (from Germany)

Calisaya bitters (containing cinchona/quinine)

Hartwig-Kantorowicz (from Germany)

Hostetter's (American)

Kabänes (from Germany)

Kuemmerling (from Germany)

Maraschino bitters

Meyer's Bitter (from Germany)

Flimm's (from Germany)

Ratzeputz (from Germany)

Reichs-Post Bitter (from Germany)

West Indies


Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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This is an odd list, in my opinion. It lists potable bitters like Fernet Branca and Campari on the same list as non-potable bitters like Angostura, which doesn't make any sense to me.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read. Can't quite place it, though.

LeNell's have a pretty complete list of available potable and cocktail bitters on their site.

LeNell's Bitters Selection


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read.  Can't quite place it, though.

I can!

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?

Christopher

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This is an odd list, in my opinion.  It lists potable bitters like Fernet Branca and Campari on the same list as non-potable bitters like Angostura, which doesn't make any sense to me.

I'd agree with your sentiments. It would surely make more sense to separate the bitters between 'potable' (Campari, Becherovka, etc.) and 'non-potable' (Angostura, Peychauds, etc.).

I suppose that they all have the qualities you'd expect of a bitters though, so listing them together makes some sense...

Christopher

Christopher?!?


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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That list looks familiar, like it is from a website or article I've read.  Can't quite place it, though.

I can!

There's a list on Wikipedia although I'm not sure if it's complete?!?

Christopher

Yeah, I know.

I think it seemed familiar to me because a most of it is cribbed from the LeNell's site and also the excellent bitters piece Dr. Cocktail did for the (now defunct) Martini Republic blog.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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*bump!*

I read this entire thread last week to research Underberg bitters. Today's New York Times features eG member johnder in his quest to re-create a classic bitters recipe. Fascinating!


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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what are you guys doing to showcase these particular bitters? and are you characterizing them as very expressive or very integrated after the maturation?

simply booze, vermouth, bitters?


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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what are you guys doing to showcase these particular bitters?

I've been using the Abbott's in Whiskey cocktails. They are fantastic in a Manhattan, but in an Algonquin (Rye, French vermouth, pineapple juice, bitters), they are transformative, taking an, IMO, just okay drink and making it into a really good drink. I expect they could have a similar effect on other cocktails with fruit juice.

are you characterizing them as very expressive or very integrated after the maturation?

I'm not sure if I know what you're getting at, but I would say that they are both. They are definately a very strong presence, and the aging does not seem to have changed that.

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Hi everyone. This is my first post.

How do we pronounce Fernet Branca? My mom can't get this in North Carolina and is always asking me to pick some up for her here in Seattle, and I never know how to pronounce the "Fernet" part. It looks French, but I know this to be an Italian product. Is it fer-nay or fer-net?

[While trying to find the answer to this online, I came across this line from an article on Fernet Branca in the SFWeekly: "If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you'll have an idea of Fernet-Branca's indelicate first impressions."]

Diane

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Hi everyone. This is my first post.

How do we pronounce Fernet Branca? My mom can't get this in North Carolina and is always asking me to pick some up for her here in Seattle, and I never know how to pronounce the "Fernet" part. It looks French, but I know this to be an Italian product. Is it fer-nay or fer-net?

[While trying to find the answer to this online, I came across this line from an article on Fernet Branca in the SFWeekly: "If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you'll have an idea of Fernet-Branca's indelicate first impressions."]

Diane

Ha, well, I suppose that is a fair description!

Welcome to eGullet, Dianabanana!

My understanding, and others will likely correct me if I'm wrong, is that you do pronounce the final "t" in Fernet. I guess Italian and French differ in that.

Though, I think it should be pronounced more like, "Fair-Net", rather than the typical Fur-Net, we'd say in the US. Do you roll Rs in Italian?


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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"Fair-net" is a reasonable American pronunciation of the word. You could roll the R, but I feel this is a little affected when incorporating such a word into American English. In much the same way, it's fine to pronounce "Rigoletto" as rih-go-leh-toe, whereas rrrrrrrree-goh-leyt-[pause on the "t"]-oh, while technically correct, is going a bit far unless you're speaking Italian.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Phew, that's what I've been saying! Now I can hold my head up in the wine shop! (And thanks for the welcome.)

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A little matchmaking may be in order for friends with a taste for bitters.

I was talking offline to a colleague this week when it hit me that the alcoholists I know – cocktailians on one hand and home distillers on the other – don't necessarily talk to each other. This is a bit like the gardeners not talking to the landscapers.

Yahoo Distillers' group is a lively discussion of among skilled home distillers (there's a separate group for newbie distillers) with sometimes wide-ranging discussions of technical aspects of distilling and aging spirits (ingredients, process, gear, woods, etc), as well as historical and ethnographic accounts of distilling spirits - and, of course, the drinking thereof.

Just as here, there's an ongoing discussion of bitters (see below for one recent post). The format's a little different and you'd have to search for bitters as a keyword, but given the overlap in interest, it might be worth peeking over the hedge to see what the distillers are unearthing.

The recent post that follows is a good introduction into what they're talking about.

Matt

-------------------------------------------------

Re: 19th century Bitters (Gin Sling/Pimm's)

In her 'One Shilling Cookery Book', Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton (1835-

65) gives a recipe for a Gin Sling (sling comes from 'schlingen' - to

swallow):

1 wineglassful of gin

2 slices of lemon

3 lumps sugar

ice or iced-water

Now if we add dashes of the English 1830 Bitters (below) we might get

an original Pimm's?

wal

--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "waljaco" <waljaco@...> wrote:

>

> I have converted the recipes to metric and scaled them down to 1 litre.

> The botanicals should be macerated for 5-10 days.

>

> Spirituous Bitters (1830, England)

>

> 7.5 g-15 g gentian root

> 7.5 g dried orange peel

> 4 g dried lemon peel (optional)

> 4 g cardamon seed

> 4 g cloves (optional)

> 1 litre alcohol (55%)

>

> ('Clarke's Complete Cellarman', Clarke W.,London,1830)

>

>


Matthew B. Rowley

Rowley's Whiskey Forge, a blog of drinks, food, and the making thereof

Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

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Add the following . . .

Peychaud

Fee Brothers Regular

Fee Brothers Orange

Others might not be essential.

I was at my local, favorite liquor store on Friday after work and notice that they added several varieties of Fee Bothers bitters to their inventory, in addition to Angostura and Peychauds. Pretty good selection, it would seem. I guess I should have picked some up.

But speaking of bitters... I had a few Manhattans over the past week. One here in Dallas, and a few at various restaurant bars in Las Vegas. It seems it's common to omit the bitters in a Manhattan. What gives??


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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jsmeeker,

I did notice the Fee Bros. at Goody-Goody, and promptly bought everything but the Mint bitters. At $2.75 a bottle, how could I not?

As far as local bars, I asked a bartender, and he said most folks don't notice the difference, and it doesn't make sense to have them on your bar unless people start asking for them. I did. He has them now. But most places I've been have them; it's just that they don't all add them unless you request it. I even went to a bar last monthwhere the bartender asked how much sweet vermouth I wanted. She said many patrons just want a splash, like they do with dry vermouth in their martinis.

The best Manhattan I've had here is at Bob's Steak and Chop House. Well-made, attention to detail, and a healthy three dashes of Angostura without any request (though they're willing to vary the amount if you ask). I'm sure other places do them well, too.

And now that I've gone completely off topic, I guess I don't know the answer to your question: what gives? Maybe just a question of ignorance on the part of the consumer to the point where anything with whiskey and sweet vermouth will do?


Tim

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