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Thread: Bitters

  1. #1
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    Bitters

    Until recently I've not had the chance to try unusual bitters. I've used Angostura and Peycheaud's, also, Collins orange bitters, and gotten good results by my ken.

    LeNell and Ben kindly gave me over the weekend a bottle of Fee's Barrel-aged Bitters.

    Let me tell you, this is great, and I can see now how a good, distinctive bitters can enhance a cocktail.

    I tried it two ways. First, in Old Weller 107 taken down to about 95 proof, with a shot of Angostura added (two shakes of the Fee's, one of Angostura). The whiskey was sweet enough that no sugar was necessary, and it was really good. The Fee's adds a cinnamon/chocolate-like note and marries perfectly with its "cousin", Angostura.

    While this was very good on its own, I added half-way through a small teaspoon of (Israeli) Triple Sec. The slight sweetening and faint orange background (the brand I used isn't strong on orange flavor) really "made" this drink. It was an Old-Fashioned, basically, and proved the worth of its storied history.

    Contrary to usual practice, I got (in both cases) great results from the unity of one whiskey, but using 40 straights and fine brandy, can be great too, just different.

    Thanks again to LeNell and Ben for this generous gift.

    Gary

  2. #2
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    Re: Bitters

    I've only recently begun to appreciate bitters, too, thanks in part to finding some Regan's orange bitters locally and thanks also to upping the amount of bitters I use in Manhattans, Martinis, et al.

    I would love to sample the Fee's line. I have not ordered any yet, but plan to do so soon: an interesting note on buying bitters is that, in TX, no spirits may be purchased on Sunday, yet bitters is available at the grocery store 7 days/wk. Not spirits, I guess...and no danger that anyone will buy them for drinking straight. Still, an oddity that should mean I can order them online despite TX's ban on receiving liquor shipments.

    Regan's orange bitters is a remarkable product, rich and round and nicely pungent. It adds great depth to any rye-based cocktail. I prefer Peychaud's with wheated bourbons (it seems to enhance cherry character in Weller 107 and Old Fitz BIB), and have enjoyed it with some genever, neat, recently. Angostura is a great all-purpose bitters, and a worthy component of any cocktail. I will occasionally add a drop or two of bitters to a neat pour of bourbon, and have found that it enhances the nose, finish, and palate in roughly descending order.

    I look forward to getting a taste of more varieties of bitters, and am also considering making my own.

    BTW, I haven't seen the barrel-aged bitters on the Fee Bros. website. Anyone know if it's available for general purchase online, or is it a special limited release (or is this another name for the Old-Fashion bitters)?

  3. #3
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    Re: Bitters

    It is called "Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters" with a sub-title "Oaken Maturity Achieved 2007: Limited Edition". A side note states, "Freshly emptied oak whiskey barrels from Tennessee, interiors charred and soaked with aged whiskey are used by Fee Brothers to age aromatic bitters".

    Tip to the whiskey writers: someone should do a piece on this outfit, they have been in business since 1864!

    Gary

  4. #4
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    Re: Bitters

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    an interesting note on buying bitters is that, in TX, no spirits may be purchased on Sunday, yet bitters is available at the grocery store 7 days/wk. Not spirits, I guess...and no danger that anyone will buy them for drinking straight. Still, an oddity that should mean I can order them online despite TX's ban on receiving liquor shipments.
    Someone, maybe Chuck, said that bitters were even available during Prohibition.

    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  5. #5
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    Re: Bitters

    An interesting short posting about bitters that also states that Angostura will soon be comming out with Orange Bitters:



    http://drinkboy.spaces.live.com/Blog...B1C9!847.entry

  6. #6
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    Re: Bitters

    That was an excellent article, thanks.

    A majority of the pre-Pro bitters mentioned are still around, such as Boonekamp and Fernet Branca and Peychaud. I am not sure about Boker's.

    The revival of interest in orange bitters and a new one from Angostura is welcome. Regan's orange bitters is superb.

    However, those who can't find orange bitters can add a dash of regular bitters and an orange liqueur of some kind. If you add bitters to an orange vodka or orange gin, ergo orange bitters. If too orangey adjust by adding regular gin or regular vodka. This isn't rocket science.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: Bitters

    Boker's and Abbott's are defunct bitters that occasionally can be found on ebay and tend to bring a handsome price. A new brand that comes highly recommended by serious intoxicologists is Bitter Truth:

    http://the-bitter-truth.com/

    They accept Paypal and Stephan Berg is a pleasure to deal with.

    As far as the Fee Bros Barrel-Aged Bitters go, I find them very powerfully Christmas spicy. A little goes a long way. The other night, I used them in Manhattans, and they were a big hit. For those in the DC area, they are available at Schneider's on Capitol Hill.

    Bitters like Vermouth are quite variable and in different combinations with different bourbons yield strikingly different results. I'm really looking forward to Angostura's Orange Bitters. Some time ago, I read tasting notes on two different formulas that were being tested, and both were said to be outstanding.

    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

  8. #8
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    Re: Bitters

    If it weren't for shipping costs, I'd have already ordered from The Bitter Truth.

    As for Fernet Branca, anyone had this stuff? Only available in a 750mL bottle around here. From what I understand, it is used in larger quantities than Angostura, et al., but still, I'd hate to spend a bunch of money for something I won't use up.

    The only description I've read of them was "explosive, with a minty edge." Sounds promising, but...

  9. #9
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    Re: Bitters

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    As for Fernet Branca, anyone had this stuff?
    Itís an old friend of mine. I always drink it neat in the same type of glass as bourbon. It taste very good but also enormously intense so everything you taste in a long while after a pour of fernet branca is more or less destroyed. It also have incredible medicine effects on all kinds of stomach problems and as far as I know itís the best working nature medicine available for money.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  10. #10

    Re: Bitters

    I am a big fan of Branca Menta, a Fernet Branca variant with a strong mint flavor. Besides straight as a digestive, it is great as a cooling long drink with ice and soda. Note that these and all the Italian Amaro bitters and just about anything that comes in a 750ml bottle are in a whole different category (I've seen it called beverage bitters) than Angostura, Peychaud, etc. which are used by the drop.

 

 

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