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Category Archives: Bitters

Mexican Chocolate Toddy

At home and a little at work I’ve recently been working with chocolate in some of my drinks trying to find both a thicker desert style drink and also a hot seasonally appropriate but innovative drink that isn’t necessarily for after dinner. The following finds a happy medium between the two. After experimenting through a bottle or so and finding that chocolate for baking or eating doesn’t dissolve how I would like (it clumps and falls to the bottom, leaving an unsightly sludge of sweetness in the glass) and knowing that chocolate syrup isn’t the taste I was after I tried using some Fee Brother’s Chocolate Bitters. It worked like a charm, I had created a drink that was both chocolaty and transparent, without any unwanted sedimentation.

  • 2 oz cinnamon infused tequila*
  • .5 oz cayenne-thyme syrup
  • 6 dashes Fee Bro’s Chocolate Bitters
  • 15 drops Bitterman’s Habanero Shrub
  • 2-3 oz hot water (to taste)
  • 1 oz lightly whipped heavy cream
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Build all of this in the order posted in a steaming hot footed glass mug, with the cream floating on top of the mixture and the cinnamon as a garnish. You can let the cream fall into the mixture, rounding out the flavor more over time, or you can mix it all together in the beginning, I prefer to let it sit and watch it change over the course of drinking it.

*For cost effectiveness I used Sauza Gold, to each 750ml bottle I added 10 cinnamon sticks and let sit 4-5 days until the tequila turned a dark reddish color.

Rhapsody in Orange

Here’s another strong but easy drinking one for summertime. This is a variation on a light rum old fashioned with the addition of some other liquors for some more layers of flavor:

  • 2 oz light rum
  • .5 oz cognac
  • .25 oz mint syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash old fashioned bitters
  • splash green Chartreuse
  • 1 lime wedge

Muddle the rum, cognac, and lime wedge, add the syrup and orange bitters. Wash a chilled coupe or cocktail glass in the Chartreuse, stir mixture over ice and strain, float a lime wheel on top and dash the old fashioned bitters on the wheel. If this is too strong or you want a highball feel free to put this on the rocks with some tonic, the base still shines through with a lot of character.

I’ve played with this a decent amount using both Remy Martin VSOP and Hennessy VS, peppermint syrup and chocolate mint syrup, Regan’s and Angostura orange bitters, and Fee Brother’s and Angostura old fashioned bitters, and both Chartreuses. My preference so far is with Hennessy, peppermint syrup, Angostura bitters for both kinds, and green Chartreuse. This makes for the most aromatic and layered cocktail in my opinion.

The 8-hour Work Day

The barrel that I was using for the Cocky Yamazaki reached the end of its ability to properly age that cocktail in a timely manner, so I bottled the last batch and put some gin in the barrel. I had a mini tasting of a bunch of different white liquors, heavy on the gin, all with a dash of the Cocky Yamazaki in them to simulate what the aging process would do to them. Out of the seven or so trial glasses Bombay Sapphire came out the winner, I barreled it and after ten days it was ready to be used:

  • 2oz Aged Bombay Sapphire
  • .5oz Lillet Blanc
  • .5oz dry vermouth
  • 1 roasted old fashioned cured orange wheel

Stir and strain the liquors into a chilled cocktail glass, top with the orange.

To cure the orange: slice 1 large navel orange into about 10 slices, grill over a flame for 2 minutes on each side, then soak in a bath of 1.5oz bourbon, .5 oz honey, and 4-5 dashes of black-peppercorn-rosemary-grapefruit bitters for 3 hours or so.

As the drink sits in the glass more and more of the old fashioned cured orange seeps into the martini,  changing it considerably from a strong and dry first sip to a much more mellow and sweeter final sip. The orange is an interactive garnish and ought to be eaten to finish the drink up.

Lotus-eaters

I went on a prolific sake kick the other day and made so many new drinks that Bourbon is my Spinach will be putting out a short series of sake based cocktails. For part one, I present the Lotus-eaters, a sweet, earthy, and close-your-eyes-in-insouciance-for-the-external kind of drink:

noun: a person who leads a life of dreamy, indolent ease, indifferent to the busy world; daydreamer.

  • 2 oz nigori sake (I used Rihaku Dreamy Clouds)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz honey lavender syrup (equal parts honey and strong lavender tea)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash black peppercorn/rosemary/grapefruit bitters
  • 2 slices cucumber

Muddle the cucumber into the sake and vermouth, add bitters and syrup, stir over ice and strain into chilled white wine glass, garnish with a lemon twist or floated cucumber slice. I recommend a wine glass so that the drink can be swirled as the solids in the sake will eventually start to sink to the bottom, though, the cocktail will also work in a coupe or cocktail glass.

The Seven-Jack-Deuce

This is an interesting drink for me, its the first time that I’ve intentionally introduced smoke into a drink. This starts with a light gin and citrus base and slides into a light herbal finish:

  • 1.75 Hendrick’s Gin
  • .5 ginger coriander syrup
  • .5 basil infused limoncello
  • .5 fresh lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Regan’s Orange bitters
  • sprig of rosemary

Take a large wineglass and turn it upside-down, burn the rosemary underneath it and catch the resulting smoke, do this until smoke is cascading out of the glass, then cover it with a napkin or coaster. Stir over ice the remaining ingredients until well chilled, carefully slide the cover of the glass open just enough to strain the drink into it, re-cover and let sit for at least 30-60 seconds. Serve. 

As this drink sits on your table more and more smoke is absorbed into it taking away the intense rosemary aroma and turning it into taste. Overall, this drink should be slowly enjoyed to get the full progression of flavor and aroma.

Bitters #2: Black Peppercorn, Rosemary, Grapefruit

I said before that I would let you know about the addition of butternut squash into the base bitters posted some time ago. Well, that didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Thankfully I didn’t use the whole 750 for that experiment. I batched off 250ml of the base and decided to try another combination: Black peppercorn, rosemary, and grapefruit. 

I soaked six cloves and 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns for 10 days, then strained them out; soaked the peel of one large pink grapefruit (sans pith) for another 10 days, strained it; and then put an ounce of rosemary into the bottle for a week. After straining the rosemary out the bitters are now sharp on the front from the grapefruit, have very nice aroma throughout from the rosemary, and finish with a little bit of burn on the back of the throat from the peppercorns.

These work quite well in whiskey drinks as the pepper brings out a lot of the darker flavors, especially in a good rye. I have yet to work with this in any gin or rum drinks, but soon enough it will be the right weather for that.

The Rosy Crucifixion

For the impending start of spring I figured that I would put out a champagne topped cocktail, but would keep it true to my own heart with a strong measure of whiskey:

  • 1.5 Bulleit bourbon
  • .5 Cointreau
  • 6 dashes Angostura
  • 6 dashes Peychauds
  • 4 champagne

Stir the first four ingredients over ice and pour into a white wine glass (a flute won’t hold the whole cocktail), top with the champagne, and garnish with a healthy lemon twist. Cheers.

Bitters #1

A while back I decided that I wanted to make some fall and winter bitters so that i could have some more cocktail options. I wanted to make a general aromatic base that I could portion off and work with in sections:

  • 750ml Bacardi 151
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Bitter leaf
  • 1 tablespoons, 3 dashes Boldo
  • 1 tablespoons, 3 dashes Chincona Bark
  • 6 tablespoons Uña de Gato
  • 1.5 teaspoons Rue

I soaked the cloves in the bottle for 2 weeks, at which point I could smell a hint of them, then I had my chef make a series of strong teas out of each of the herbs and reduce it from a quart and a half to between 1 and 2 cups each. Then came the fun part, I started mixing the herb teas into the rum drop by drop until I reached a bitter, exotically aromatic, but still light concoction. For ease I converted the drops to spoons and dashes with one drop being a fifth of a milliliter and a dash being 4 drops.

This is a good start to some house made bitters and can be used for a lighter Sazerac, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or anything that calls for aromatic bitters. Stay tuned for the addition of some butternut squash to the recipe.

 

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