Tag Archives: bitters

A Mood Reviver

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I was in a foul mood upon arriving home. Definitely needed a stiff drink, an best make it a double.

Went to the fridge and grabbed an unsuspecting lemon. Juiced the bastard and came up with 1.5 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice. What to do with the juice? Pulled Regan’s “Joy of Mixilogy” and rifled through looking for a recipe calling for .75 ounces of lemon juice. Remember, needing a double.

My eyes caught the Corpse Reviver #1, well that nasty thing wouldn’t due, but #2 sounded good. Wasn’t looking for 1.5 ounces of Triple Sec, too sweet, so I improvised.

I saw Gary Regan’s recent tweet;

“@gazregan: When you make a Béarnaise sauce, do you go looking for Chef Jules Colette’s nineteenth-century recipe?: http://t.co/sdVxpF9T”

this very AM and can’t say I was inspired, because I held the same views, but I do suggest reading his blog posting. He speaks to playing with ratios when using higher proof spirits or sweeter/stronger modifiers, but my tampering is in the same vein. Ted Kilgore of Taste suggests playing with ingredients in classic recipes when working on your own concoctions.

But back to the matter at hand:

Mood Reviver
1.5 ounces Gin
1.5 ounces Lilet Blanc
1.5 ounces Lemon juice
.75 ounces Mandarine Napoleon
.75 ounces Maraschino Liqueur
3.0 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
2.0 dashes Dr. Adam’s Spanish Bitters

Combine in a cocktail tin, fill with ice, shake till frosty. Double strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a swath of lemon peal.

Enjoy, don’t drive, that’s 4.5 ounces of booze mister, just have a second one and take a nap. Throw your keys under the couch before starting the first cocktail, just in case your mood worsens or improves too much.

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How to stock your bar?

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My notes for this blog, a real head scratcher.

A friend has acquired a beutiful slab of end grain rock maple from my good friend Norbert at John Boos in Effingham, IL and used it to create a basement bar. As it was my advice that brought him to Boos and therefore the focal point of his bar, he naturally asked me my opinion on stocking the beast. Before doing so, I did a quick check on the google and was surprised at the lack of quality advice on the matter, hence, this entry into Amuse-Douche.

The first thing I came across on the interwebs was a blog titled The Art of Manliness, if the other articles are on par with the one on bar stocking, reading this thing will only make you a douche, an unamusing douche. Anyone typing that white rum is better for mixing, excuse me, but what about the Pimento, listing Patron as a preference, or that clear tequila is better for sipping, I’ve got a couple reposados and añejos that would beg to differ, blended single malts, what, Grey Goose, try Tito’s, and suggesting Jim Beam for an Old Fashioned, look, asking for an Old Fashioned and having it made with bourbon is like requesting Radiohead and getting Cold Play, sure, it’s music, and to the unintelligent listener it may sound similar, but Cold Play couldn’t hold Radiohead’s jock, and rye, not bourbon, goes in an Old Fashioned. That being said, the guy makes some okay points. It’s really just his selection of booze that I take umbrage with.

So, what do you need? Let’s start with the mixers and work our way up.

Mixers
Coca-Cola Classic
Ginger Beer (Goslings)
Club Soda
Tonic Water
7-Up
Limes
Oranges
Lemons
Grapefruits
Grenadine

That’s really all I offer. I generally don’t consume any carbonated beverages, but have those listed just in case. My tea toting friends seem to enjoy the Ginger Beer. The juices should always be fresh, I like the reemer in a bowl juicer. Also, always double strained. I like having the fresh fruit around for cooking as well. Limes for pico, guacamole, marinades. Lemons for tea or fish or a pie. Oranges and grapefruits for fresh juice or breakfast eating. Some times you look in the refrigerator bin and see you’ve got a little penicillin farm, but you pay the cost to be the boss, and sometimes the cost is tossing moldy citrus into the compost.

garnish
Various citrus peals
Cocktail olives
Cocktail onions
Cherries
Mint
Nutmeg

I also choose to have cinnamon sticks, cloves, and various other baking spices available. In addition, as a home pickler, I have asparagus, okra, and green beans to garnish my savory drinks. I also keep cherries soaked in kirsch, house maraschino cherries, and brandy soaked cherries on hand.

Ice
1 inch cubes
2 inch cubes

I also offer two inch ice balls. The balls and larger cubes melt slower and thus, don’t dilute your cocktail. Dilution is necessary in drink preparation, as about a quarter of your drink is water after stirring or shaking, but you don’t want further dilution while sipping. Good quality ice made with clean water is key. Funky ice equals bad drink. Fortunately those of us in St. Louis profit from Anheuser Busch’s early decision to filter the water they use, not at their brewery, but at the source, so all the city could enjoy crisp, clean, water, and good ice.

Modifiers
French (dry) Vermouth
Italian (sweet) Vermouth
Lilet
Cynar

I buy half bottles, or splits, of Nolle Prat dry vermouth. I don’t use a lot of it so I’ll have one opened in the fridge and one sealed in the cabinet. This ensures I have some in case the fridge bottle has expired. I keep full bottles of sweet vermouth around in several flavors. I suggest Dolin Rouge for it’s price and approachability. If you want to upgrade, I’d suggest Punt a Mes. Carpano Antica, though exceptional, is not the catch all, do anything, sweet vermouth you need when you’re just beginning. Lilet is a nice apertif and can be served alone or mixed into a cocktail, I enjoy it with four parts gin to one part Lilet. The Cynar is your Italian bitter bottle. It’s not as flashy as Fernet Branca, but it’s, again, a catch all, and that’s what you should be trying to get when starting to build a bar. You don’t want niche bottles sitting around collecting dust when you could have something more useful in that shelf space. Averna would also make a nice addition, but if you get a bottle, as with the Lilet and your vermouths, refrigerate once opening.

Liqueurs
Maraschino Liqueur
Cointreau
Creme de Cassis or Chambord
Canton, The Big O, or Stirrings Ginger
Cherry Herring
Aperol or Campari, I’d get both
Drambuie (375)
Benedictine (375)
St. Germaine (375)
Galliano (375)
Pimms
Green Chartreuse
Kahlua
Swedish Punsch
Ameretto

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All of these aren’t necessary. It really depends on how much cocktail making you do. As you taste cocktails at Sanctuaria, Taste,Franco, or Blood & Sand ask what liqueurs are in the ones you particularly enjoy, then purchase those bottles and experiment at home. As you frequent one of the above mentioned establishments, you’ll find that if you ask, they will let you taste any modifier, liqueur, or base. This is very helpful when building a bar.

The list I gave is by no means complete or completely necessary. I’d start with Cointreau, Maraschino, Creme de Cassis and one of the ginger flavored options. Once summer rolls around I’d score a bottle of Pimms for the Pimms Cups. If you’re a Blood & Sand fan, you’ll have to pick up a bottle of Cherry Herring.

I really only have the Chartreuse on the list because I love Last Words. I bought my Maraschino Liqueur for Aviations, but enjoy it in the occasional Manhattan, as the base for my cocktail cherries, and as a dressing for fruit salad, along with the many cocktails I now know it to be an ingredient in. I suggest purchasing 375 ml bottles for the liqueurs where you can. Many are very flavorful or overly sweet, and you’ll only need a quarter ounce or so.

As you build your bar, I’d suggest purchasing different types of the various flavored liqueurs. To start either Chambord or Creme de Cassis will do, but eventually you’ll want both so you can have the proper ingredient. I’d also suggest in investing in a variety of citrus liqueurs such as Grand Mariner or Mandarin Napoleon. They will allow you to put your own twist on a “house” drink when the standard recipe calls for Cointreau. If you like bitter, I suggest you get more bitter drinks, if you have a sweet tooth, grab more fruity sugar packed liqueurs. If you’d like to spend a little more money, try these,

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but, use them sparingly, as they are full of flavor, but a truely top of the line bar should have oak aged Green Chartreuse, Amaro Nonino, and Carpano Antica.

More than anything, your palet should guide your purchases with modifiers, liqueurs, and most importantly, your bases.

Bases
Whiskey
(American; Buffalo Trace, Rittenhouse)
(Global; Glenmorangie, John Powers)
Tequila (Espalón Reposado)
Rum or Rhum (Flor de Cana white)
Gin (Plymouth)
Vodka (Tito’s)
Eau de Vie (C.C. Pear, Laird’s Bonded)

The bottles listed above would be my suggestion for the basics, for more, read on:

Whiskey, Bourbon, Canadian, Irish, Scotch, Rye, Tennessee, Colorado. What to choose? For the bourbon, go with Elijah Craig 12 year or Buffalo Trace for your mixing bourbon. I’d also stock a nicer bottle, maybe Michter’s. As for Canadian, V.O. Or Seagrum’s Seven will do. I don’t use them much, but stock a bottle for the occasional 7&7 or V.O. press. For the Irish, John Power’s. Scotch, I’d go Glenmorangie for a smooth mixer or sipper and maybe something funky, like Laphroig or Ardbeg 10 year to start. Rye is a must for Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. I love Rittenhouse and at $20 it’s a great bargain, Old Overholt is $11, but not nearly as tasty. Thomas Handy makes a $60 bottling of over-proof rye, and is a nice addition to any bar. As to the Tenn and Colo whiskies, those aren’t really necessary, but Stranahan’s and George Dickel could be added once the other components are present, if American whiskey is your thing.

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A few whiskey upgrades, rye, bourbon, Irish, and a Bordeaux finished Scotch.

I like a white dog as well. White dogs are simply unaged whiskies, and are a nice night cap.

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The above bottle is unaged Rittenhouse, and is great on the rocks with a cherry. Don’t try to do anything but slide into bed after one.

Tequila, Espalón, Espalón, Espalón. Unaged and the Reposado. Luna Zule makes an affordable Añejo and I suggest it be added to your list. Don’t throw good money after bad tequila, these will all be $25 or less, no reason to spend more.

Rum, Flor de Cana white and the four year are your basics. Goslings Black Seal is a must for hot summer days in a Dark & Stormy. Smith & Cross is my ideal Jamaican rum. El Dorado 12 year is my sipper of choice, and won’t break the bank. For a couple of odd additions, Cachaca for Caipirinhas and Batavia-Arrack for a bit of funk. Three suggestions if you’re going rum heavy,

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Pyrat is a Jamiacan with lots of Hugo, Zacapa may be the best rum ever, and the 15 year old Rhum Barbancourt may be the best of the French style rums. If you’re going full tiki, you may also choose to add orgeat and velvet falernum.

Gin, Plymouth and Hayman’s Old Tom are necessary, something a bit more London dry, like Beefeater, can be nice for Gin & Tonics. I’d also add an American craft distiller such as Aviation, Cap Rock, or Pinkney to try with your classic gin cocktails. Nothing beats Aviation in an Aviation.

Vodka, Stolichnaya and Tito’s is all one needs.

Eau de Vie, I stock a pear, a peach, a kirsch, grapa, calvados, cognac, etc. These are nice to close an evening with. I suggest Clear Creek Distillery’s Pear option, it will certainly surprise a dinner guest. Laird’s Bonded is a nice aged apple brandy, and for $22 it deffinately earns a spot. Pass it off as Calvados after dinner, it’s just the New Jersey version. My favorite after dinner Eau de Vies are bellow.

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Really, as mentioned, taste, and theme, should drive your purchases. Do you prefer prohibition era cocktails, you may want to offer a greater gin selection. Are you a scotch man, then go with maybe two of each base and a half dozen or so scotches. Running an at home tikki establishment, probably need some 151 along with a few other rums. Margaritaville? Bump up the tequila, add some Mescal, but stick with 100% agave. I have a large selection of American whiskies, be they bourbon, rye, wheat, Tennessee, or originating from another state. I have some low price, high quality options, as well as high end high quality options.

As to the bitters, read my blog “Everyday I’m Bittering.” Please, don’t forget them. Not bitters, but made by Fee Brothers, orange flower water is a necessity when having a Ramos Gin Fizz or Pisco Sour for breakfast.

I keep the bulk of my booze in the basement,

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the basics in the kitchen,

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and a few nice things to sip on in a barristers book shelf,

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this way, no matter where I am in the house, I’m never more than a few feet from a proper drink.

None of these suggestions are in anyway biased by advertising or sponsorship dollars. At the moment, this is a true, no spin zone. That being said, everyone has a price, and if properly incentivized, I can whore like no other. If you’d like your product pushed, shoot me an email at Amuse.Douche11@gmail.com or direct message me on Twitter @AmuseDouche11.

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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. 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

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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 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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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. 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

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 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.
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.

20120122-162254.jpg

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.

20120122-163440.jpg
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.

20120122-163715.jpg
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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