Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cocktail Bitters: A Culinary Adventure

I've wanted to try my hand at bitters for awhile after reading about the whole process on Jamie Bourdreau's blog (  My first attempt didn't necessarily follow his advice (individually bottling different flavors and ultimately combining them for final product) due to limited resources/being a poor law student and not wanting to invest in multiple bottles of over-proofed spirits.  However, now that I kind of know what I'm doing, I'll invest a bit more and do individual flavors macerations next time.  Stay tuned for that towards the end of Summer.

The Ingredients

The Mixtures

Bittering Agent
-5 oz 151
-1/4 TBSP Wormwood

TALL = Pear Dram
-7 oz 151
-7 3” long cinnamon sticks
- 4 oz diced, candied ginger
-Skin of 2 large Bartlett pears
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
FINAL = 5.5 oz pear dram, 0.5 oz amaretto, 0.5 oz simple syrup, 2 oz bitter mixture.

MEDIUM = Martini
-5 oz 151
-4 oz juniper berries
-Diced peel of 2 large lemons
FINAL = 3 oz martini blend 1 oz simple syrup (1:1), 2.25 oz bitter mixture.

SHORT = Falernum
-5 oz 151
-1 oz amaretto
-Diced peel of 10 key limes
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ginger
FINAL = 7 oz falernum blend, 0.5 oz simple syrup (1:1), 2.5 bitter mixture.

The final product turned out quite well, but I haven't gotten fancy bitter bottles, yet, so no picture.  

Pear Dram Bitters are pretty fantastic.  Fairly complex.  Sweet, but strong.  Possibly a little too sweet.  Not really an issue, though, if you just reduce the simple syrup you put into whatever cocktail you're making by about half.  Ginger didn't come out too much, sadly.  Probably needs to macerate separately and not be candied, next time.  Went well with Rendezvous Rye and Sailer Jerry spiced rum.  I think it has more potential elsewhere, though, or at least with a couple more ingredients.

Martini Bitters are more lemon than juniper, but I kind of expected that.  I definitely think this blend will benefit from separate maceration process for the ingredients.  That being said, I do like them.  Ironically, I've yet to use them in a martini.  They do pair very well with a nice rye whiskey, though.  Made a fantastic Old Fashioned with these, Rendezvous Rye, a raspberry/pomegranate tea syrup, and a twist of lemon instead of the orange.

Falernum Bitters are fantastic.  Probably the most proud of these.  I will definitely tweak the recipe some more to increase the individual spice profiles.  Again, individual maceration will help.  Paired very well with a nice mezcal reposado (Scorpion) and the aforementioned tea syrup.  Also went pretty well with some Sailer Jerry spiced rum, though I liked the mezcal combo more.

I'll post a follow up with some more combinations I deem worthy of mentioning.  For the two people that read this, questions are welcome.


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