Monthly Archives: January 2012

Breakfast Burritos

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Mexican is my favorite non-eggs Benedict breakfast. Chorizo and eggs, huevos rancheros, and today’s breakfast burrito are all wonderful options to start the day.

Theres no reason you have to do your breakfast burrito pre-frozen and then nuked or risk the drive-through version, its easy to do at home, and the at home version comes with tequila. In addition, left over meat and beans can be combined and refrigerated to be used in lunch time quesadillas for the work week.

To make, take a pound of beef, browned with an onion in your cast iron skillet. Then add a healthy portion of my house taco seasoning, I’ll do a blog on various seasonings once I measure what I actually use. One could use a store bought, but then make sure and use salt free stock, otherwise you’ll have cotton mouth and sausage fingers before lunch. Its always better to control what you put in your spice mixes, rubs and marinades. After I stir in the seasoning I pour in chicken stock until meat is half covered. Let that simmer together for a few minutes.

While the meat is cooking I put a can of refried beans in a heavy bottomed sauce pot with some diced house made jalepenos, more on those during canning season. I then pour in chicken stock until it’s a rich and smooth consistency.

Just as the meat finishes absorbing the stock and seasoning I throw in another diced onion. This one will add more bite and texture.

As all of this comes together I put a pad of butter in a small non-non-stick frying pan and fry an egg, leave the yolk a bit runny. And that finishes the preparation.

To assemble, place a smear of salsa verde in the center of your burrito wrapper, add meat mixture and beans. Then top with cheese then your fried egg. Wrap your wrapper into a square. Then place the burrito flaps side down in a hot cast iron skillet, this is why you should own at least two. Let it stay till smoke appears then flip till the same smoke point is reached, then remove and plate.

For breakfast I serve the burrito with some orange wedges, strong coffee, and a shot of tequila, preferably Espalón Reposado.

Price fluctuates on Espalón, but I wouldn’t pay $23 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it for $16. It is a 100% agave tequila and in that price range can’t be beat. I’d drink it over a Patron offering, even if Espalón was as ridiculously overpriced as Patron. It’s almost too damn smooth to work as a morning eye opener.

Typing of smooth, as I prepared this meal I listened to Ray Charles’s “Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul” on vinyl. A great Sunday morning album and other than Ottis Redding’s “Live in Europe” and John Lee Hooker’s “Never Get Out of These Blues Alive,” the closest thing to Spanish Fly that I’ve got on vinyl.

As for last nights Burns Night Dinner, pretty good Haggis. It’s like a meat loaf made of barley, sheep’s lungs, and other offal cooked in a stomach. Not bad and certainly something I’d eat to survive a cold winter. The scotch was good, and the bottle of Glenmorangie I took home as a door prize helped to offset the sticker shock of $130 for a dinner for two. Even with that high price point it was still a great night of bag pipers, revelry, poetry, conversation, and dance.

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Robert Burns 2.0

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St. Louis St. Andrews Society Robert Burns Dinner tonight at the Hyatt. Haggis and Scotch, lively dress, and revelry. A nice opportunity to celebrate the McConkey side of my family.

Getting ready for the evening with the help of a glass of Benromach, a very smooth Speyside single malt, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a very smooth and much under appreciated rocker.

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The Stanley flask is waiting full of Ardbeg 10 year old Islay single-malt. That’s the frugal play. Buy a glass of something interesting and then pour your own drams from Stanley the rest of the night.

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Should be a good night. Hoping to learn some Scotch wisdom so I can spread the word of the single malt as only an amusing douche can.

Sláinte!

(Yes I know Sláinte is the Irish cheers)

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Lucien Gaudin in the Mornin’

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Bright flavors are the way to go with any morning eye-opener. When I think bright and boozey, I think gin, more importantly, for our purposes, gin and citrus. The Lucien Gaudin is an excellent example of how these components can work wonderfully together and really open your eyes on a Saturday morning.

Lucien Gaudin himself was a French fencer who took gold in the 1928 Olympics in two events and later killed himself in 1934. I wonder if he and his famous foil could have made a difference on the Maginot Line had he lived to see the 1940s. I’m not sure as to why he had a gin drink named after him, but that hardly matters.

I first saw the drink on the member’s list at Sanctuaria and later ran across it at a Vintage Cocktails class with Jason Main of the The Wine Merchant.

I assume the Sanctuaria version is the same as those listed below. Jason, on the other hand, leaves out the Cointreau on his recipe sheet. I can’t remember if he did so when making the drinks. He also garnished with a lemon. His version would make for a much brighter drink and possibly more appropriate for AM imbibing. Either way this is a drink that can and should be made at home, as any home bar should have the ingredients and no special technique is required.

Two of my cocktail guides listed the drink, Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and Robert Hess’s The Essential Bartender’s Guide . Note when I do links to books I use Amazon, please look for the books on Albris. It’s not as user friendly as Amazon, but its great for used and harder to find copies. As for the two books, both are great reference guides. Ted Kilgore of Taste and Last Word Cocktails gave me a copy of Hess’s book when I took a one-on-one class with him, a must and great birthday present. I picked up Haigh’s, or Dr. Cocktail’s, book when I started seeing it at every bar I drank at. Water Street in Maplewood is working through the book as they build their cocktail list.

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The Lucien Gaudin, as seen in Haigh’s book.

For a video of Hess making the drink click on the small screen network. Small Screen is a great place to get recipes and see how exactly a pro brings the ingredients together, a top notch resource.

Lucien Gaudin
1.0 Gin
0.5 Cointreau
0.5 Dry Vermouth (or Lillet)
0.5 Campari

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Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass, I favor the Yarai, stir twenty or so times, strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a swath of orange peel. I did not note the size of measurement on this recipe in case you wanted to make a pitcher of them for brunch. One ounce as the 1.0 component and then half ounces work for a single serving.

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You may notice in the picture of all ingredients above that I used Lillet and not a traditional dry vermouth such as Noilly Prat. I thought Lillet would work well in this recipe as it has some chinchana bark which is loaded with quinine that adds a bitterness. This is why I used that same bark in my bitters recipes. Lillet also has some liqueurs in it which were made by macerating orange peels of various types in neutral spirits. With the Lucien Gaudin, being a citrus forward drink, I thought that the inclusion of Lillet would make those flavors even more prominent and make it more of an eye opener with the citrus and quinine additions.

You may recognize Lillet from the James Bond movies or books. The Vesper as he names it is that incorrectly shaken part gin, part vodka, part Lillet martini like concoction he orders up in Casino Royal. For an excellent piece on the Vesper read David Wonderich’s article here in Esquire.

I further tinkered with the drink by going with an American, locally produced, gin over Hayman’s Old Tom or the traditional English or London style Plymouth.

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I like the idea of switching up gins to suit my recipes. I don’t want to use a full on juniper bomb when making a citrus cocktail. I also don’t want to use a weaker less flavor-forward gin in my martinis. Rounded out luscious Old Tom’s are best used when the recipe appears to be something that would also work with a bourbon or rye as the base spirit. An Old Pal made with Old Tom gin, instead of rye, would showcase this nicely.

My go to gins for drinks like the Last Word and Aviation tend to be American, Aviation Gin is my favorite, and I wanted to try an American here. Old Tom would be to smooth and the mouth feel would be off and Plymouth or even Hendricks would likely over power the subtler flavor notes I was seeking to pull out with my use of Lillet. Many times American gins have more citrus, cardamom, and coriander notes and Pickney Bend made locally in New Haven, MO works well here. I think Colorado’s Cap Rock would be the best gin to use, but good luck finding it locally, outside of my basement.

I keep a ready supply of various gins, probably a dozen or so on hand at the house, if a reader ever wanted to stop by and taste a few. I even have a bottle of Seagram’s bumpy. Ideally a home bar would include Hayman’s Old Tom, Plymouth, Hendricks and an American option. The inclusion of Old Raj and Bols Genever would make said bar on par with Taste or any other high-end cocktail bar.

Remember to keep your Lillet or dry vermouth in the refrigerator after opening. I use Noilly Prat for my traditional dry offering and Vya, a vermouth made in the Napa Valley, when I want to feel especially patriotic or want to show off.

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Burns Night

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“I’ll have a scotch on the rocks, please. Any scotch will do, as long as it’s not a blend, of course. Single malt, Glen Livet, Glen Galley, perhaps, any Glen.”

It being Burns Night in honor of Robert Burns the famed Scotsman I thought the base for the evening will be that sometimes smokey, sometimes seaweedy or salty, sometimes medicine cabinety, sometimes oily, but always complex intoxicant, single malt whiskey or Scotch.

Scotch can be an acquired taste. It’s not as clean as Irish whiskey and not as sweet and full of baking spice as bourbon, and drinkable, unlike Canadian whisky. It can be pretty funky at it’s best. Lagavulin 16 is fantastically insane in taste and great as a bed time snack. Scotch can also be very smooth and quite mixable.

I generally stick with single malts, so in that sense I’m a snob, but I have no problem with scotch type products from other nations. I’ve got Japanese, Indian, American all in my cabinet.

Scotch is by far the booze I have the least knowledge of and experience with. This is odd since at age twenty I usually kept a bottle of Dewars around wherever I hung my hat, I played cards with a J&B deck through highschool, and have put down more than a few pints of Johnny Walker Red on the golf course. But these aren’t single malts, and single malts are where the action is.

Right now I’m enjoying the Ardbeg 10 year. It’s a medium to firm bodied whisky with a smoked fish nose and a long smokey peaty finish with a touch of iodine. It’s reasonable at around $45 a bottle. It’s deffinately more of a bed time malt, so unless you’re having a crowd over for a night cap, a bottle should last you awhile.

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When you do go out and feel like a scotch, scan the bar or ask for a list, please don’t be “that guy.” Chances are they will have the above quoted Glens. Just order one of those if you aren’t positive they have a larger selection. Only an unamusing douche stumbles through pronouncing Auchentoshan, Bruichladdich, Fettercairn, or Teaninich. Don’t do that. But, do drop a money line from Swingers such as,

“Um… a malt Glen Garry for me and my friend here. And if you tell that bartender to go extra easy on the water, this 50 cent piece has your name on it.”

And if the beautiful baby waitress gets the quote, quintuple the tip.

A better scotch ordering line based on a great Swingers line and Burns Night relevant would be “I’ll have the Glenmorangie in the age of Romanticism.”

Anyhow…

As I start to grow my single malt scotch repertoire I will occasionally blog about it. Its clearly A-D material as I feel it’s like having a working knowledge of wine, in order to be a true douche, one must be able to talk scotch beyond just “any glen will do.”

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Chili Night

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Not every-night at Amuse-Douche is fancy cocktails, wine, a gourmet meal and some sort of freshly prepared dessert.

Tonight was chili night. Eating out of the pantry and freezer occasionally, allows us to eat out of the Straub’s meat counter and Maplewood Farmer’s Market bins every now and then. It also allows me to have an easily divided lunch to take to work the rest of the week. This way I don’t get caught up in the “where are we going to have lunch” discussion and can have my own internal “what craft beer sixer will I buy tonight” discussion.

So, how do I make my Monday Night Chili?

MNC
1 lb Ground Beef
4 links Farmer’s Larder Frankfurters
1/2 cup Shredded BBQ Ribs
(frozen from smoking this fall)
1 onion (diced)
1 green pepper (diced)

Brown/sauté above ingredients, then add to your own taste, I hardly ever measure when cooking like this, the following;

Paprika (less)
Ancho Chili Powder (lots)
Garlic Powder
Granulated Onion
Chipotle Chili Powder (little)
Cumin (lots)
Bay Leaf
Salt
Dried Red Bell Pepper
House Canned Jalepeños
House Canned Sweet Peppers

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I also add a Cacabel, Chipotle and Guajillo pepper, all dried, and then remove before serving. All available at your local Penzey’s or any Mexican bodega.

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Then add,

1/2 Boulevard Single Wide IPA
1 Can Tomato Sauce
1 Can Crushed Tomatoes

After you let this all simmer for a half hour or so toss in a can if strained and rinsed chili beans. Heat through and then serve as you wish. I keep the rest on the stove for an hour or so before i portion it out for those lunches.

Top as you wish. I like mine topped with raw onion, but we were out, so I settled for Sriracha Garlic Chili Paste.

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As to my measuring of lots, less, little, don’t complain. If that no talent ass clown Rachel Ray can free measure with her palm I certainly can eye ball, and you can taste. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing when cooking anyway, TASTING, not trusting in the hand size of some, uneducated, made for TV, air brushed, weight fluctuating hack.

I make a more refined chili as well, but that involves an emersion blender, the grill and is definitely not a Monday One Potter.

Saturday Morning Eye Opener

This morning I went with Imbibe Magazine ‘s Norwegian Sunset. Not having an aquavit at this time I reached for the Gammal Krogstad from House Spirits Distillery a nice little micro-distillery in Portland Oregon. The Krogstad is a bit sweet and heavy on the anise and caraway. The drink did have some nice herbal notes, shit bartenders say, but was cloyingly sweet. Campari over Aperol may improve it or the use of a lighter or more herbally vermouth. It wasn’t nearly as head clearing and refreshing as my go to 50/50 Campari and Punt a Mes, but gave me that slight buzz I was looking for from a morning bracer.

Norwegian Sunset from ‘Northstar Cocktails’ a great little book out of the Minneapolis cocktail scene:

1 1/2 oz. aquavit
3/4 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
Ice cubes

Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: 5 drops Regan’s orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish.

Wake up, make this drink, tell your friends all about it on Facebook and you too can be amusingly douchie.

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Profile picture?

Possible profile pic for this extremely douchey food and mixology blog of nonsense. All blogs of this type have an extremely self important douche bag quotient, we here at Amuse-Douche just plan to embrace said tendency as made clear by this sentence.

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Everyday I’m Bittering

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Bitters are the salt and pepper of your drink. Not sure how many times I’ve heard that one. It’s true in that bitters bring out flavors, add complexity in your drinks, and tie the components together. Like The Dude’s rug. They also ARE the difference maker when comparing drinks at home and drinks made by a pro at a bar. Similar to how the use of stock and demi-glacé are the difference makers in comparing restaraunt food and home cooked meals. So maybe bitters are the demi-glacé of your drink, as they elevate a recipe to something you’d actually pay for.

Let’s start using demi-glacé instead of salt and pepper, demi-glacé is a far douchier comparison/metaphor.

I must note that if you free pour you will have an unbalanced drink no matter the use of bitters or quality of your ingredients. MEASURE!

Everyone knows Angostura of Trinidad and most drinkers know Peychaud’s of NOLA fame. Those two are must haves, but I would add Regan’s Orange to that list and if you were to offer four bitters I’d go with Boker’s.

The first three are available at most fine grocers and certainly any liquor store worth it’s salt. Boker’s isn’t. You have a couple options on this, make your own or buy Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s version, also available at Cocktail Kingdom , my go to for difficult to find cocktail related gear and ingredients.

I own Dr. Adams Spanish Bitters and Dandelion and Burdock bitters. They run you about $25 a pop. I made my own Boker’s because I could and didn’t want to drop another $25 into Dr. Adam’s limey pocket. He’s based out of England and I am a Patriot.

Therefore I needed a recipe to make my own. If you don’t own a copy of David Wondrich’s Imbibe I suggest you buy it, both for it’s history of the cocktail and individual cocktails and for the authentic recipes. The Joy of Mixology is the other must have. In Imbibe Wondrich gives an excellent recipe that you can tinker with as far as quantities.

BOKER’S BITTERS
1.5 Oz Quassia
1.5 Oz Calamus
1.5 Oz Catechu
1.0 Oz Cardamom
2.0 Oz Dried Orange Peel

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Macerate for ten days in a half gallon of over proofed rum, such as Trader Vic’s from The Wine and Cheese Place. You can then add water to get whatever proof you wish. I don’t add any as I want my bitters strong.

Some may suggest adding the cardamom a day or two into the maceration process as it tends to overpower in flavor. These seemingly rare ingredients are readily available at Cheryl’s Herbs on Manchester just west of McCausland.

So, now you have all you truly need, but you’ve probably seen a lot more then these four at your local cocktail bar or liquor store. Mole, peach, hops, cherry, mint, etc. Why do they have these? It’s the same reason Anchorman enjoyed the smell of mahogany and leather bound books. It’s to make you want them or think that those who have them are somehow above you. I’ve got a lot of wood, books and bitters myself.

Though not necessary at home they can be fun to play with and though not necessary at the bar they help you know that the bar your at at least has the ingredients to make a good drink and I personally love the aesthetics of having them all lined up at the bar as seen here at Root Down in Denver.

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Three more bitters I’d buy, but aren’t must haves, are Tiki, Rhubarb and Mole. First, I’d buy Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters, great stuff. Just wonderful in summer rum drinks like the Baguio Skin.

Fee Brothers makes a great Rhubarb bitters. It’s an excellent way to add some sweetness and that funky rhubarb flavor. It can be too sweet if you add too much, but when using sparingly can be a great additive to rye or bourbon.

The above mentioned Bitter Truth Mole Bitters is another great addition to a home bar. Using it is like adding the essence of bitter-sweet chocolate. It’s adding that essence and no sweetness that makes their product shine. And is also what I love about my house made varieties.

Even with all the bitters I have, the one bittering flavor I longed for, but couldn’t find was ginger. I wanted to add ginger without adding sweetness. I tried using Canton, but it is far too sweet for my palate and doesn’t add enough gingery heat. So, I took some fresh grated, dried cracked and powdered ginger, added a allspice berry or two and some lemon peal with a pint of 151 along with many of the components of the Boker’s bitters and let it sit. After two weeks I strained it with a coffee filter and added more cracked ginger and let it sit for two more weeks. Add as much ginger as you want. In a pint jar I probably had an inch of solids at the bottom. What I was left with was exactly what I was searching for. A spicey, gingery, dry bitters to perfect the following two recipes;

IT’S A FALL DAY
1.5 Oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1.0 Oz Drambuie
0.5 Oz Lemon Juice or Aperol
4.0 Drops Ginger Bitters

If using Aperol, combine in stirring pitcher with ice, stir 25 times, strain into coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. If using lemon then shake the drink.

Working a bit of Allspice or Pimento Dram into this equation is a nice option. Or just a dash or two of Angostura.
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The drinks name came from a song my sister and I used to sing that my mom always brings up when its a fall day. The drink recipe came from me working with Esquire Magazine’s Aperol based formula. They use Aperol as a bittering agent. This is popular with other Italian bitters, Amaros, and Avernas. My favorite being Cynar, but the industry’s favorite being Fernet-Branca, I actually prefer Luxardo’s Fernet, less Menthol. That’s all for another blog.

The other drink is the El Diablito, my shrinking of the long/tall drink the El Diablo into a short cocktail. Long drinks just aren’t my thing.

EL DIABLITO
2.0 Oz Reposado Tequila (Espalon)
.50 Oz Creme de Cassis
.50 Lime Juice
5.0 Drops Ginger Bitters

Combine in Boston Shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 25 seconds, double strain with your normal strainer and a tea strainer and serve with a grape fruit twist.

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The two most commonly seen bitters at the bar are Angostura and Peychaud’s, but Fee Brothers and Bitter Truth are the top brands for your “flavored” bitters. Many prefer Bitter Truth because they are alcohol based as opposed to glycerin and because they are dryer and are more complex. Fee Brothers are much cheaper, but tend to be too sweet for my palate. The difference is $5 per bottle on FB and $15 per on BT.

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I have a collection of each brand. I’d like to acquire BT’s Lemon and their Celery bitters. My most recent purchase was Black Walnut by FB and I’ve been happy with it and look forward to using it this summer with ginger beer based concoctions.

Along with the Boker’s and Ginger Bitters I’ve also made a few other bitters.

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The Christmas bitters is the same formula with a lot of baking spices and some 151. I used the Boker’s recipe minus the cardamom and orange. The other ingredients in the Boker’s add the bittering flavor and help round out what you add to make it “X” bitters. The Fruit Loop bitters are heavy on the cardamom and fruit peels, more of an experiment.

You will find with different base spirits, different bitters are best. Boker’s with gin, Spanish with wood aged spirits, hops and grapefruit with Tequila. BT’s Mole works well with a lot of spirits. I love it in Cynar. Just as certain bitters wok well with certain spirits, certain spirits work well when making certain bitters. 151 is what I use when I’m going to have baking spices in the mix. If it’s an herbal formula, I reach for some white dog rye. I don’t used everclear or vodka. I don’t make drinks with those products, so why let them sneak in through my bitters.

The FB options, especially the peach, are good when used to soak a sugar cube with before you then toss it in a St. Germaine coated champagne flute and then fill with champagne. That’s as good as a Kir Royal or some funky cold medina when it comes to the ladies. FB’s cherry adds something to a Manhattan and FB’s mint to a Julep, but depending on the drinker, what they add may be a bit too sweet or overpowering. Use FB’s offerings conservatively. You can’t take them out once you’ve dashed them in.

In the end, embrace bitters, use them liberally, and help bring your at home cocktail to the level of an at the lounge cocktail. It’s also a nice piece to add when taking pictures of your concoction for Facebook, they really tie together and add complexity to the photo as well as the glass.

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Everyday I’m Bittering

20120122-163045.jpg
Bitters are the salt and pepper of your drink. Not sure how many times I’ve heard that one. Its true in that bitters bring out flavors, add complexity in your drinks and tie the components together. The also ARE the difference maker when comparing drinks at home and drinks made by a pro at a bar. Similar to how the use of stock and demi-glacé are the difference makers in comparing restaraunt food and home cooked meals. So maybe bitters are the demi-glacé of your drink, as they elevate a recipe to something you’d actually pay for.

Let’s start using demi-glacé instead of salt and pepper, demi-glacé is a far douchier comparison/metaphor.

I must note that if you free pour you will have an unbalanced drink no matter the use of bitters or quality of your ingredients.

Everyone knows Angostura of Trinidad and most drinkers know Peychaud’s of NOLA fame. Those two are must haves, but I would add Regan’s Orange to that list and if you were to offer four bitters I’d go with Boker’s.

The first three are available at most fine grocers and certainly any liquor store worth it’s salt. Boker’s isn’t. You have a couple options on this, make your own or buy Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s version, also available at Cocktail Kingdom , my go to for difficult to find cocktail related gear and ingredients.

I own Dr. Adams Spanish Bitters and Dandelion and Burdock bitters. They run you about $25 a pop. I made my own Boker’s because I could and didn’t want to drop another $25 into Dr. Adam’s limey pocket. He’s based out of England and I am a Patriot.

Therefore I needed a recipe to make my own. If you don’t own a copy of David Wondrich’s Imbibe I suggest you buy it, both for it’s history of the cocktail and individual cocktails and for the authentic recipes. The Joy of Mixology is the other must have. In Imbibe Wondrich gives an excellent recipe that you can tinker with as far as quantities.

BOKER’S BITTERS
1.5 Oz Quassia
1.5 Oz Calamus
1.5 Oz Catechu
1.0 Oz Cardamom
2.0 Oz Dried Orange Peel

20120122-162806.jpg
Macerate for ten days in a half gallon of over proofed rum, such as Trader Vic’s from The Wine and Cheese Place. You can then add water to get whatever proof you wish. I don’t add any as I want my bitters strong.

Some may suggest adding the cardamom a day or two into the maceration process as it tends to overpower in flavor. These seemingly rare ingredients are readily available at Cheryl’s Herbs on Manchester just west of McCausland.

So, now you have all you truly need, but you’ve probably seen a lot more then these four at your local cocktail bar or liquor store. Mole, peach, hops, cherry, mint, etc. Why do they have these? It’s the same reason Anchorman enjoyed the smell of mahogany and leather bound books. It’s to make you want them or think that those who have them are somehow above you. I’ve got a lot of wood, books and bitters myself.

Though not necessary at home they can be fun to play with and though not necessary at the bar they help you know that the bar your at at least has the ingredients to make a good drink and I personally love the aesthetics of having them all lined up at the bar as seen here at Root Down in Denver.

20120122-181115.jpg

Three more bitters I’d buy, but aren’t must haves, are Tiki, Rhubarb and Mole. First, I’d buy Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters, great stuff. Just wonderful in summer rum drinks like the Baguio Skin.

Fee Brothers makes a great Rhubarb bitters. It’s an excellent way to add some sweetness and that funky rhubarb flavor. It can be too sweet if you add too much, but when using sparingly can be a great additive to rye or bourbon.

The above mentioned Bitter Truth Mole Bitters is another great addition to a home bar. Using it is like adding the essence of bitter-sweet chocolate. It’s adding that essence and no sweetness that makes their product shine. And is also what I love about my house made varieties.

Even with all the bitters I have, the one bittering flavor I longed for, but couldn’t find was ginger. I wanted to add ginger without adding sweetness. I tried using Canton, but it is far too sweet for my palate and doesn’t add enough gingery heat. So, I took some fresh grated, dried cracked and powdered ginger, added a allspice berry or two and some lemon peal with a pint of 151 and let it sit. After two weeks I strained it with a coffee filter and added more cracked ginger and let it sit for two more weeks. Add as much ginger as you want. In a pint jar I probably had an inch of solids at the bottom. What I was left with was exactly what I was searching for. A spicey, gingery, dry bitters to perfect the following two recipes;

IT’S A FALL DAY
1.5 Oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1.0 Oz Drambuie
0.5 Oz Lemon Juice or Aperol
4.0 Drops Ginger Bitters

If using Aperol, combine in stirring pitcher with ice, stir 25 times, strain into coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. If using lemon then shake the drink.

Working a bit of Allspice or Pimento Dram into this equation is a nice option. Or just a dash or two of Angostura.
20120122-162357.jpg
The drinks name came from a song my sister and I used to sing that my mom always brings up when its a fall day. The drink recipe came from me working with Esquire Magazine’s Aperol based formula. They use Aperol as a bittering agent. This is popular with other Italian bitters, Amaros, and Avernas. My favorite being Cynar, but the industry’s favorite being Fernet-Branca, I actually prefer Luxardo’s Fernet, less Menthol. That’s all for another blog.

The other drink is the El Diablito, my shrinking of the long/tall drink the El Diablo into a short cocktail. Long drinks just aren’t my thing.

EL DIABLITO
2.0 Oz Reposado Tequila (Espalon)
.50 Oz Creme de Cassis
.50 Lime Juice
5.0 Drops Ginger Bitters

Combine in Boston Shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 25 seconds, double strain with your normal strainer and a tea strainer and serve with a grape fruit twist.

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The two most commonly seen bitters at the bar are Angostura and Peychaud’s, but Fee Brothers and Bitter Truth are the top brands for your “flavored” bitters. Many prefer Bitter Truth because they are alcohol based as opposed to glycerin and because they are dryer and are more complex. Fee Brothers are much cheaper, but tend to be too sweet for my palate. The difference is $5 per bottle on FB and $15 per on BT.

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I have a collection of each brand. I’d like to acquire BT’s Lemon and their Celery bitters. My most recent purchase was Black Walnut by FB and I’ve been happy with it and look forward to using it this summer with ginger beer based concoctions.

Along with the Boker’s and Ginger Bitters I’ve also made a few other bitters.

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The Christmas bitters is the same formula with a lot of baking spices and some 151. I used the Boker’s recipe minus the cardamom and orange. The other ingredients in the Boker’s add the bittering flavor and help tround out what you add to make it “X” bitters. The Fruit Loop bitters are heavy on the cardamom and fruit peels, more of an experiment.

You will find with different base spirits, different bitters are best. Boker’s with gin, Spanish with wood aged spirits, hops and grapefruit with Tequila. BT’s Mole works well with a lot of spirits. I love it in Cynar. The FB options, especially the peach, are good when used to soak a sugar cube with before you then toss it in a St. Germaine coated champagne flute and then fill with champagne. That’s as good as a Kir Royal or some funky cold medina when it comes to the ladies. FB’s cherry adds something to a Manhattan and FB’s mint to a Julep, but depending on the drinker, what they add may be a bit too sweet or overpowering. Use FB’s offerings conservatively. You can’t take them out once you’ve dashed them in.

In the end, embrace bitters, use them liberally, and help bring your at home cocktail to the level of an at the lounge cocktail. It’s also a nice piece to add when taking pictures of your concoction for Facebook, they really tie together and add complexity to the photo as well.

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