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Peychaud, la fee, etc...

any others people can recommend.

Prefer victoria area, but otherwise vancouver is fine.

I have some experience with this. Nothing is carried locally except Angostura. Unfortunately, none of the specialty food shops have been willing to stock different brands of bitters -- which they could surely sell with the burgeoning classic bartending scene in Vancouver. Instead, we have to order them from the U.S.

Unless you make frequent trips to Seattle (or other U.S. cities), you'll be best off getting these products by mail order. In Seattle, Fee Bros. bitters are available at DeLaurenti's in the public market, and Peychaud's are available at the gov't liquor stores. I have provided links below to websites you can order from.

Fee Brothers bitters

From Rochester, NY. They have an 800 number you can call to order from. They will ship to Canada. Fee Bros make aromatic, orange, peach, and mint bitters. Skip the mint but get the rest.

Buffalo Trace Distillery

You can get Peychaud's and Regan's Orange bitters (a great new product introduced last year) from Buffalo Trace distillery. Look under "Food > Mixes." (Their falernum syrup is good too.) I don't think the website lets you select shipping to Canada, but they'll do it if you call them directly.

Since it can be a lot of legwork to track all these down, I find it's best to order in large bunches to minimize the hassle (especially if you're ordering for a bar, like I was). I usually order a year's worth at once--it's not expensive. Good luck--let us know how it goes.

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Last year I purchased for a couple of bar clients the Croatian Bitters Pelinovac (32% abv) and only $13.99 for one litre from Bosa's in East Vancouver. On the back label it said "for pharmacy sales only" :blink:

Cheers,

Stephen

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

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Last year I purchased for a couple of bar clients the Croatian Bitters Pelinovac (32% abv) and only $13.99 for one litre from Bosa's in East Vancouver. On the back label it said "for pharmacy sales only" :blink:

Cheers,

Stephen

Now, I'm wondering if that would be part of the importing problem?

:blink:

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Last year I purchased for a couple of bar clients the Croatian Bitters Pelinovac (32% abv) and only $13.99 for one litre from Bosa's in East Vancouver. On the back label it said "for pharmacy sales only" :blink:

Now, I'm wondering if that would be part of the importing problem?

:blink:

I doubt it, actually.

I find that bitters usually slip through the cracks because customs people just have no idea what the hell they are. Angostura bitters are 40% abv and stocked on the shelf of every Safeway--right next to the fake champagne and grenadine. I don't really see the alcohol as much of a problem anyway, because drinking enough to get drunk would be extremely unpleasant (not speaking from personal experience).

I think the scarcity of bitters in this market is more a question of general ignorance and lack of demand. Knowledge of bitters, in terms of their use in bartending, has become pretty esoteric post-Prohibition, even within the industry. One way to silently evaluate any bartender is to count the bottles of different bitters behind their bar.

I should mention that there are two types of bitters: one is the high-alcohol, extremely bitter kind which are intended to be added in minute quantities to cocktails to add flavour and complexity. These are the type of bitters, like Angostura, I was giving ordering info for above.

The second type of bitters are common in Italy and Eastern Europe, are lower in alcohol, and are typically drunk straight, chilled, as stomachics. Campari, Jagermeister, Unicum Zwack, and the heinous Croatian Pelinkova that Stephen mentions above are all in this family.

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any chance of you sharing any good recipes with us chris?

Orange bitters were a common ingredient in the Martini until the 30s, when they disappeared from the recipe. Example:

Astoria

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass:

2 oz gin

1 oz French vermouth

3 dashes orange bitters

garnish with an olive

Peychaud's bitters are a core ingredient in the definitive antebellum cocktail, the Sazerac. This one is a bit complicated, but bear with it:

Sazerac

1 sugar cube

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 dash absinthe

small piece of lemon peel

Fill a short, heavy-bottomed rocks glass full of ice and set it aside to chill.

In a mixing cup, soak the sugar cube with both bitters, then crush with a muddler or bar spoon. Add rye whiskey, fill the glass with ice and shake vigorously.

Empty the ice from the first glass and swirl the absinthe around the inside, coating it evenly (law-abiders can substitute Pernod or Ricard). Strain in the contents of the shaker into the rocks glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

To keep this on-topic, the Astoria is poured at the Lumiere bar, but any bar with orange bitters can make what is essentially a wet martini with a couple dashes of bitters. As well, I know you can find Sazeracs at several places in town (some good and some bad). Jay Jones makes a good one at NU.

The Cocktails Forum would be a good place to find more recipes for cocktails using bitters.

Edited by chrisstearns (log)
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Well I have contacted both woodford and la fee, they are just getting back to me regarding price of shipping etc... as they mentioned the ship according to wieght so a group shipment will present some savings but not huge ones and a group buy is unlikely as these things are generally pretty cheap. Anywas if you want to jump on check how much of them you want and then pm me.

And lastly thank you very much Mr. Stearns

Edited by 300rwhp (log)
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It is funny that I came upon this topic. Yesterday I ordered a case of Peychaud's and Regan's Orange bitters. Shipping and handling was $13.25 us for 12 x 2 10 oz bottles....I did send them to a Washington State address so that may have been why it was so reasonable and they guarranteed 2 day shipping if product in stock.

I think I may start a black market business, hmmm?

Edited by TimK (log)

Tim Keller

Rare Restaurant

tim@rarevancouver.com

Metro Restaurant

timkeller@metrodining.ca

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In the past I've purchased Fee Bros bitters from Ottavio in Oak Bay. They have brought in Mint, Peach and Orange from the US but their inventory depends on if they have somebdy driving across the border.

I also have a yet-untried recipe for orange bitters. Unfortunately it calls for grain alcohol

-sprky

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I also have a yet-untried recipe for orange bitters. Unfortunately it calls for grain alcohol

-sprky

Tim Keller

Rare Restaurant

tim@rarevancouver.com

Metro Restaurant

timkeller@metrodining.ca

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  • 2 weeks later...

TimK -

I just left you a ltiny ittle pile of old-school cocktail recipes in the Rare blog comments (following up on my request for a French 75). One of them calls for peach bitters, so you should order yourself a batch of those. :wink:

I'm always interested in finding those bars in town that offer up vintage cocktails (yay Lumiere and Feenie's!) so I'll be sure to check out the Sauzerac at NU. I can see their bar from my living room so I really have no excuse not to get there soon. If anyone else has any recommendations for vintage cocktails, bring 'em on.

And for those in need of recipes featuring your newly-purchased bitters, go over to Cocktail DB's recipe search. You can type in your ingredient(s) and have a whack of recipes returned to you, incuding no less than 327 for orange bitters!

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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TimK -

I just left you a ltiny ittle pile of old-school cocktail recipes in the Rare blog comments (following up on my request for a French 75). One of them calls for peach bitters, so you should order yourself a batch of those.  :wink:

And for those in need of recipes featuring your newly-purchased bitters, go over to Cocktail DB's recipe search. You can type in your ingredient(s) and have a whack of recipes returned to you, incuding no less than 327 for orange bitters!

Thanks. The orange bitters and peychaud were just delivered. I now have a source in the states who is on the hunt for unique bar ingredients so I will get him on the trail of peach bitters.

Tim Keller

Rare Restaurant

tim@rarevancouver.com

Metro Restaurant

timkeller@metrodining.ca

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Good to know about local availability (well BC at least). I am willing to be a guinea pig for your untried recipe...what are the chances of loosing my vision with the grain alcohol?

Don't worry about blindness! There is a big difference between professionally distilled high-proof grain alcohol and paw-down-by-the-crick moonshine. People went blind from drinking the homemade stuff because of the impurities left behind in the distillate. The proof had nothing to do with it. Drinking one ounce of straight ethanol is just as safe as drinking two ounces of vodka.

A good two-minute introduction to spirits distillation.

High-proof ethanol is essential to make really good homemade bitters. When macerating, the alcohol helps to extract the flavors from all the stuff you soak in it; the higher the proof of your solvent, the more intensely flavored your bitters will be. The trouble is, you can't buy high-proof grain alcohol in Vancouver--at least not that I've found. Has anyone ever seen grain alcohol for sale locally? I know it's available if you drive down to Seattle.

All is not lost, though, if you want to make your own bitters at home. Jamie B. from Lumiere made some fantastic bitters using plain old 40% ABV gin as a base. He experimented by building the same bitters recipe with vodka, gin, and 151 proof rum. The vodka base was good, the gin was excellent, and the 151 rum a little too 'rummy' -- the stuff he infused in it didn't overpower the rum flavor. (I still liked it though.)

In the old days, each bar of note crafted its own house-made bitters. Each recipe was a little different, matching the personality of the place. I'd love to see the practice revived in Vancouver.

Edited by chrisstearns (log)
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  • 10 months later...

They're likely to turn up at delicatessens. Phone first.

Memo - lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat

Ríate y el mundo ríe contigo. Ronques y duermes solito.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.

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Thanks for the information.  I just went to Safeway and found Angustura Bitters.  Also hoping to find some sort of orange bitters, I'll try some other supermarkets as well.

You'll not likely find orange bitters in supermarkets. Best bet is going to Seattle or mail ordering, as referenced in the thread daddy a mentioned.

Edited by eatvancouver (log)

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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I have a few bottles of Regans No. 6 Orange Bitters I got from the U.S. of A. I am willing to share one. PM me for details.

Tim Keller

Rare Restaurant

tim@rarevancouver.com

Metro Restaurant

timkeller@metrodining.ca

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PM sent TimK, thanks!

I tried smelling and tasting the Angostura bitters and am very surprised. It is a lot more comforting and tasty than I thought it would be. The aroma reminds me of egg nog. I have this urge to use it with all different sorts of foods rather than cocktails. Vanilla ice cream sounds like it would work well with it.

I have to again repeat that I am very new to cocktail mixing/drinking, and have very little knowledge of spirits besides rum. I had a dry gin martini the other day for the first time (Bombay Sapphire with Martini and Rosso) and found it rather odd and displeasurable. I think it's gin that I'm not fond of, as the taste of the vermouth on its own was ok. Gin tastes like pine needles to me.

Edited by jlo mein (log)
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I had a dry gin martini the other day for the first time (Bombay Sapphire with Martini and Rosso) and found it rather odd and displeasurable.  I think it's gin that I'm not fond of, as the taste of the vermouth on its own was ok.  Gin tastes like pine needles to me.

The only way past this phase is to keep on drinking until you like it (not all at one sitting, though). This may take a while, but if you're truly interested in spirits, keep on keeping on. I have found this approach to work with many things in life; the deepest pleasures are those that are not obvious at first. For scotch, I required a full bottle (I believe I started with Cardhu) and several months of biweekly attempts.

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