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BFerguson
08-07-2011, 12:52
So, i've always been the guy amongst my friend who likes things a bit different than most. Back in the college days, this included bourbon and decent microbrews, since they were hitting Des Moines pretty big and there were a couple of good brewpubs to choose from.

Along for the ride with bourbon has aways been the steadfast bottle of Angostura bitters, because they just make everything better. Any whiskey cocktail just is not complete without a healthy dose of them.

Back around 01' i was really excited to find my first bottle of Fee Brothers orange bitters in Omaha. My interest had been piqued by the mention of them, and recipe, in "The Book of Bourbon" by the Regan's. if you don't already own it, great read to pick up.

Since them, Regan's orange bitters and Peychaud's have also held a place in the bar. Also have picked up on the orange one from Urban Moonshine, great flavor and love the homemade, cloudy look of them.

But most recently, I've really been loving bitters in the realm of Apéritifs and Digestifs. Straight, mixed or diluted, they are fantastic!

Aperol, Ramazzotti, and Fernet-Branca have all been in rotation in the bar. The sometimes strangely sweet ,herbal, citrus-e flavors are wonderfully brisk, refreshing and yet contradictory all at the same time. Aperol has a great upfront orange flavor and sweetness that is not too forward, but yet then hits you with that bracing bitter note that takes you by surprise, but yet wanting more.

They are prefect before, and wonderful after dinner drinks. Many a night where the meal has been a bit too rich, has these come into play to bring a level of comfort. Yes, they absolutely do have some medicinal value to them.

And you can always sub in some Angostura for the above, since just about every place has this one hand. If you never tried any of the above, try this next time you are felling a little full after dinner, into a pint glass dash, with heavy hand, about 10-15 shakes of Angosture, maybe more if you are using the small bottle, the larger one is what I have on hand and measure form, and then just fill with cold water.

Drink it down, and repeat if needed.


So, any other bitter friends out there??

B

ratcheer
08-08-2011, 14:42
I love bitters. I have Angostura and Stirrings Blood Orange bitters on hand. I love Peychaud's, but don't have any.

I also like a dash or two of bitters in a glass of orange juice or Coca Cola.

Tim

sutton
08-08-2011, 16:12
My first exposure to all things bourbon/rye was with a Sazerac. I bought some Peychaud's and Angostura to make it once I had one in San Fran. I love what this stuff brings to a bourbon/rye cocktail. I've never tried just bitters and water, but ... well, not much else going on tonight ... maybe...

LikeItWasSodaPop
08-08-2011, 16:57
I will slightly quibble with OP here in that I see cocktail / aromatic bitters and bitter liqueurs as separate animals / categories. Both work well as cocktail ingredients, of course, but "bitters" tend to be defined by their particular dominant flavor (angostura bark, orange, chocolate, wormwood, even celery) whereas bitter liqueurs tend to be "secret family recipe" type concoctions. The liqueurs are known in Italy as amari (plural) or amaro (singular). These are funky, weird, and certainly not for everyone.

I love amari neat or with soda. For cocktails, amari can often work as a substitute for or an accompaniment to vermouth. Some are sweet enough that the addition of vermouth can throw things off balance. But suffice it to say that these bitter friends play well with our other, perhaps better friends, bourbon and rye. Try something like Cynar (an artichoke based amaro with carmel and chocolate notes) mixed w/ rye + chocolate or barrel-aged bitters. Amazing.

Two I've been particularly enjoying are Meletti, which has interesting caramel and orange notes, and Punch Abruzzo, which has cream soda, amaretto cookie, and anise flavors. A lot of them have anise notes, but those I find too close to absinthe or other anise-y liqueurs to be interesting.

One thing I love about amari is the mad scientist / crazy monk up in the monestary / old folk remedy vibes they have. I was in Italy last summer and sampled dozens of these not available in the States. Over there, they see them as primarily a digestif type concoction rather than a mixologist's tool. Tourists rarely order these, so it's a good way to build cred and get some free drinks!

BFerguson
08-08-2011, 18:32
Quibble accepted.

Yes, the bitters that most think of, and the amari family are really two different beasts. Each having their place in the bar lineup.

But, with the main base ingredients that many commonly share, and the original intended purposes of each, they really are closer than most people think.

Speaking of the mad scientist part, makes you wonder what type of other, and probably not so palatable versions they brewed before hitting some of the versions that we know of today. There must have been some long winters of boredom to brew up some of these things

The trip sounded fantastic. What a great experience and sampling variety you had that you just can not get here.

B

Young Blacksmith
08-08-2011, 19:35
Peychaud's are always in my bar, I love the liquorice/wormwood flavor in them. I add a hefty 4-5 dashes to my bourbon and ginger ale cocktails for when I want more fluids on these hot days.

I've tried them straight, but it's just OK for my tastes.

ILLfarmboy
08-10-2011, 18:10
I love Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters. The clove/Christmas spice flavor is tops in my book. I rarely use Angostura these days.

craigthom
08-12-2011, 12:14
So would Jaegermeister fall into the amari camp, or are medicinal herbal liqueurs a different thing?

HP12
08-12-2011, 12:25
So would Jaegermeister fall into the amari camp, or are medicinal herbal liqueurs a different thing?

Jaeger = liquid Valium. Great stuff. A shot right from a chilled bottle out off the freezer is a treat. Medicinal in its own right.

craigthom
08-12-2011, 15:02
Jaeger = liquid Valium. Great stuff. A shot right from a chilled bottle out off the freezer is a treat. Medicinal in its own right.

I was thinking about it's traditional application as a digestive, not it's marketing-created one as a speedy way for the cool kids to get drunk.

LikeItWasSodaPop
08-12-2011, 16:37
... Double post. When youre at a Chicago bar puring two fingers of WT 12 for les than 8 bucks, it happens.

LikeItWasSodaPop
08-12-2011, 16:42
I think Jager has its cousins in the fernet category, which is a sub category of amari. Fernet Branca being the most known. Amari are an Italian phenomenon but as far as "medicinal" liqueurs go there are some obvious siblings throughout Europe. Jager is just the best marketed of these.

So I would put Jager into the amari category. Italians might quibble but only due to geography.

There just isn't a word for "weird european bitterish herbal concoctions" ... so since the Italians have owned theirs and theirs are the best, I use their vocab.

I just think the subltle differences among amari are mind blowing. Jager just can't compete even if the raw ingredients are probably the same as many of the Italian concoctions.

marna
08-13-2011, 08:43
I love Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters. The clove/Christmas spice flavor is tops in my book. I rarely use Angostura these days.

Thanks ILLfarmboy. I picked up a bottle of Fee Cherry bitters for Manhattans, and I REALLY like them. These bitters brought out the butterscotch in my (local) rye.

I couldn't find the Christmas flavor, but will be searching for it as the holidays approach. Might also pick up the apple.
Marna

TBoner
08-19-2011, 20:54
Marna, there's not a Christmas flavor as such. I think Brad was pointing out that the Old Fashioned Bitters from Fee Bros. taste of clove, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon...holiday spices if you will. Anyway, I agree with him. They're great. I keep a lot of bitters on hand but use Fee Bros. more than any others.

Tim

marna
08-21-2011, 07:01
Thanks, Tim. You saved me from an endless search. I'm still trying to find the regular flavor. Keep coming across the peach, which I'm definitely passing on.
Marna

ILLfarmboy
08-21-2011, 08:34
Marna, there's not a Christmas flavor as such. I think Brad was pointing out that the Old Fashioned Bitters from Fee Bros. taste of clove, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon...holiday spices if you will.


Exactly.

Sorry for the confusion.

Marna, try looking on-line.

I can't remember where I got the last bottle I bought but I have never seen them in a brick and mortar store.

TBoner
08-21-2011, 11:53
I actually just found them in an 11-oz. bottle at a B&M; bought two. They must be popular in this market, as the regular bottles are everywhere. They go into every Coke or ginger ale I drink in addition to cocktails.

LikeItWasSodaPop
08-25-2011, 20:48
I recently had an amazing cocktail at the Drawing Room in Chicago. This was about 6 weeks ago. The bartenders were out of town for a conference of some sort, so they had imported bartenders from some soon-to-open bars in St. Louis, and this was one of their drinks.

I can't remember the name of the drink but its ingredients were: Yamazaki 12, Campari, Cynar, Camparo Antica, and Peychaud's. In other words, a shit ton of bitter friends, all in one drink. The sort of drink that seems utterly revolting yet, for those of us who love bitter, is impossible to NOT order.

Surprisingly, it was quite balanced. I've tried and failed to replicate it at home. So I've decided to quit trying, and use it as an excuse to combine two extreme flavors: bitter and peaty.

My current concoction:

1 oz peaty Scotch (tonight it was Ardbeg 10)
1 oz Campari
.5 oz Cynar
.5 oz Camparo Antica
several healthy dashes Peychaud's bitters

It's not for everyone, but I love it.

LikeItWasSodaPop
08-25-2011, 21:00
Also, no discussion of bitter is complete without mentioning Malort, one of the most hated drinks in Chicago. It's basically just neutral spirits infused with wormwood.

You can find it in just about any working class or quasi working class bar. Usually people order shots of it to either mock/punk someone or to prove their "manhood."

The bitter finish lasts forever. Most people hate it, but I think it has its place.

ratcheer
09-01-2011, 09:18
I ran across this interesting, related article:

http://www.slate.com/id/2302763/?from=rss

Tim

marna
09-02-2011, 07:51
Thanks, Tim. That was a fun read. Must try Averna...
Marna

BFerguson
09-04-2011, 05:41
I'm glad I ended up doing the original post topic on this. I didn't think there would be this much interest

Good article link. It is articles like this, that when you go into the store and see the bottle sitting there, that you get back to thinking, "Ah....that's what they were talking about!" And before you know it you hand is reaching out and you have the bottle tucked in your arm.

And then the look at the checkout as they stare at the bottle that they have never seen go out of the store before.

It kind of gives you a little bit of pride that you are a limited member of the "in the know" club.

These really are some great products that I hope more will search out and try.

Thanks everybody!

B