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Mixers, Water, Ice and Glasses

All of the ingredients in a cocktail contribute to the experience.


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Old 01-14-2008, 08:41 PM   #1
KINGSTON
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Default Bitters?!?!

What exactly are Bitters? Can they be home made? I know that Angostura in Trinidad producers a very popular line. The only time I have had Bitters in my Cocktails is when I have been at a Rum Bar. I have never sought them out for home made drinks.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:18 PM   #2
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Every bar has them, not just rum bars. They all have it for making Manhattans, which, well, around ehre, are never ordered anymore. Ive worked behind bars where their bottle of Angostura Bitters was purchased when the bar opened!
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:40 PM   #3
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Default old bitters

I have a small bottle of Angostura bitters that appears to be older than I am by the yellowing condition of the label.

Many drinks can cross the line into the dreaded over-sweet range easily. Bitters bring them back in line and offer a balance.

When I make (the world's finest) barbeque sauce, the formula is a balance of sweet (brown sugar, honey, molasses, fruit juices) with sour (lime juice, vinegar) and savory (rum and lots of interesting herbs and spices) with just the right amount of heat (smoked, dried chilis) for the perfect combination. Extremely sweet, extremely sour, extremely spicy sauces are super-flavorful.

A cocktail with bright, powerful flavors, tending to the sweet side can be made perfect with a dash of good bitters, adding savory components that enhance the recipe.

Bitters remind me of age-old snake oil remedies. Alcohol based, secret formulas containing exotic barks, seeds, leaves and extracts are not far apart from home remedy tinctures. Some were apparently derived in past centuries as potent cures for something.

In the Bahamas, I learned of a tincture made of the onion-skin-like bark of the Kamalame tree (known here as the Gumbo-Limbo) that is known to cure "weakness in men" otherwise treated these days with viagra.
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KINGSTON View Post
What exactly are Bitters? Can they be home made?
We've made a few of our own bitters. They're basically just alcoholic tinctures of herbs and spices that were originally used medicinally. Try these links http://www.drinkboy.com/LiquorCabine...geBitters.html

Or this recipe:

Dr. Schwartz's Cherry-Vanilla Bitters

Makes 6 cups

From "The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics" (Chronicle Books, 2006) by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz.

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons quassia (see Note)

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed

Pinch gentian (see Note)

Pinch cassia (see Note)

1 teaspoon grated ginger

3 cups 100-proof rye, preferably Rittenhouse

5 vanilla beans

1/2 cup cherry bark

3 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Instructions: Toast quassia, cardamom, anise, gentian and cassia in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Cool and transfer to a sterile mason jar. Add the ginger and rye, screw on the cap, shake well and store in a cool, dark place. Agitate once a day for one week. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and transfer to a clean jar. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and add them to the rye mixture along with the cherry bark. Seal and store again, shaking once a day, for another two weeks. Strain the rye through cheesecloth and transfer liquid to clean mason jar (do not throw out the cherry and vanilla mash). Cover and set aside for a couple of weeks. (No need to agitate.)

Take the cherry-vanilla mash remaining in the jar and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While the mixture is simmering, smash the vanilla beans against the sides of the pot with a muddler or wooden spoon. Cool completely and transfer to a clean jar. Store in a cool, dark place for another 2 weeks, agitating once daily. Strain this mixture through several layers of cheesecloth, as many times as is necessary to remove all sediment from the vanilla beans. Finally, combine the liquid with the reserved rye mixture and transfer to an empty bitters bottle.

Note: You can order quassia, gentian and cassia from Tenzing Momo at tenzingmomo.com.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:07 AM   #5
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Default Grapefruit Bitters

And here is a Grapefruit bitters recipe:

johnder grapefruit bitters

180 g grain alcohol
60 g Grapefruit zest (no pith -- in strips from vegetable peeler)
10 g Grapefruit zest with pith
10 g Lemon zest
4 g ginger (2 pieces)
5 g gentian
1 g dried spearmint
5 g dried lavender
30 g water


Combine all ingredients, let sit overnight (12 hours)

Strain solids and set aside.

In saucepan melt 3 tablespoons sugar until very dark brown, add 1/4 cup water, stir until dissolved. Add 3 teaspoons of burnt sugar syrup to strained bitters along with 1/4 cup water.

The end product is bitter -- definitely get some of the bitterness from the grapefruit, but the bitter from the gentian helps settle the pith like bitterness from the grapefruit.

The end result is very yellow and has a tremendous aroma of grapefruit
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