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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food Bitters
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Bitters
arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1286
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2011-08-10 1:27 pm   Permalink

OK, I'm just going to throw myself out there and admit it: I'm confused about bitters. Intrigued by all the choices that are available nowadays, but confused nonetheless.

I may be wrong, but I was basically going along the assumption that aromatic bitters such as Angostura and Peychaud's were best for aged spirits, such as bourbon and rum; and that citrus bitters were best for spirits such as gin and vodka. That's probably an oversimplification, but it was what I generally was going by.

Therefore, I have no idea what cocktails to include rhubarb bitters or black walnut bitters or plum bitters, etc etc etc. Should bitters be used to enhance a flavor already in a cocktail (cherry bitters in a Singapore Sling, for example), or should they be used to provide an all new flavor element?

I've read several articles about bitters, and see cocktail recipes with various different kinds of bitters. But I've yet to see any real direction or explanation of why to use one particular bitters over another, or how to incorporate various flavored bitters.


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[ This Message was edited by: arriano 2011-08-11 08:09 ]


 
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jingleheimerschmidt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 20, 2007
Posts: 339
From: santa rosa, calif.
Posted: 2011-08-10 3:07 pm   Permalink

You're heading down a slippery slope of cocktail nerdom. One that is so esoteric and complex, I reckon you may never come back. I know it confuses the hell out of me.

Your "simplification" of bitters usage is where I like to keep things: simple. It pleases 99% of the people. However, all of these other fancy bitters can be used somewhat interchangeably. They add a little bit of a kick or boost to a cocktail or base spirit. Think of it as having 20 different Old Fashioneds (black walnut old fashioned sounds good) and go from there.

[ This Message was edited by: jingleheimerschmidt 2011-08-10 15:09 ]


 
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jingleheimerschmidt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 20, 2007
Posts: 339
From: santa rosa, calif.
Posted: 2011-08-10 3:08 pm   Permalink



[ This Message was edited by: jingleheimerschmidt 2011-08-10 15:09 ]


 
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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2011-08-10 3:53 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-08-10 13:27, arriano wrote:
OK, I'm just going to throw myself out there and admit it: I'm confused about bitters. Intrigued by all the choices that are available nowadays, but confused nonetheless.


The fact that we're even having such a conversation about all these bitters choices out there is a truly awesome thing. Celery bitters were extinct for about, what, 100 years? And now they're available again (thanks to the Bitter Truth). That's great! But, yeah, I hear you. It IS confusing. I have a growing collection of bitters bottles. Several get regular use while quite a few sit there going "Pick me! Pick me!". Like the nerdy kid on PE kickball day, they get overlooked.

But what I think you're looking for is rules, or... less strictly, guidelines. I think you're already heading in the right direction with your assumptions. But honestly, my philosophy is: try it and if you like it, it's the right one to use. Simple as that. An Old Fashioned may traditionally only have Angostura bitters, but the
best Old Fashioned I've ever had (and now repeated on quite a few occasions) uses three types of bitters. Use bitters like you would a spice in food. A dash of this, a dash of that... Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But it's great that we now have so many tools in our tool chest from which to choose!

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thePorpoise
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 1228
From: Tampa Bay
Posted: 2011-08-10 9:43 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-08-10 15:07, jingleheimerschmidt wrote:
You're heading down a slippery slope of cocktail nerdom. One that is so esoteric and complex, I reckon you may never come back.



you mean like delving into a category of drinks where people not only obsess about whether that grapefruit comprising 4% of the drink should be white, pink, or red, but also obsess about the kind of mug the drink should be served in?



[ This Message was edited by: thePorpoise 2011-08-10 21:44 ]


 
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thePorpoise
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 1228
From: Tampa Bay
Posted: 2011-08-10 9:46 pm   Permalink

I use Angostura, Peychaud's, and orange bitters where (frequently) called for in classic cocktails.

I use a drop or two of lemon bitters where i have no fresh lemon for a drink calling for a lemon twist over the surface (like the Sazerac). I similarly use mint bitters sometimes where I have no fresh mint.

I have peach bitters that I really havent figured out a good use for.

[ This Message was edited by: thePorpoise 2011-08-10 21:49 ]


 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1286
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2011-08-11 08:08 am   Permalink

Thanks, I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad I'm not alone. Trial and error, here I come!

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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5045
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-08-11 08:14 am   Permalink

I'm with you. I can now get 4 packs of various bitters at the store and I am hardly sure what to do with the orange bitters. Oh, and now there are 4 or 5 orange bitters out there!

I think I will get some soda and add dashes and taste. Get a feel for these tastes and decide how they'll be used...
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jingleheimerschmidt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 20, 2007
Posts: 339
From: santa rosa, calif.
Posted: 2011-08-11 08:32 am   Permalink

Quote:


you mean like delving into a category of drinks where people not only obsess about whether that grapefruit comprising 4% of the drink should be white, pink, or red, but also obsess about the kind of mug the drink should be served in?




Precisely! My brain, budget, and pantry can only do so much........but I love it!

I do what Swanky does but also try with different alcohol bases as a control. I have used Appleton v/x, Bulleit Rye, and Bombay Sapphire gin to experiment with different combinations. Works pretty good until the fourth or fifth combo. Hiccup!


 
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jingleheimerschmidt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 20, 2007
Posts: 339
From: santa rosa, calif.
Posted: 2011-08-11 08:35 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-08-10 21:46, thePorpoise wrote:
I have peach bitters that I really havent figured out a good use for.




Try in a margarita w/o cointreau. Maybe in a Fish House Punch type cocktail. Perhaps in a genever old fashioned. I don't have peach so I can't say for certain.


 
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thePorpoise
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Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 1228
From: Tampa Bay
Posted: 2011-08-11 09:05 am   Permalink

orange bitters are called for in the Martinez and all those early era martini recipes.

I made a great drink once with Brizzard Apry and peach bitters but damned if i can remember what else was in it.


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 1072
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2011-09-14 3:13 pm   Permalink

not a "tiki drink" but i serve my wife (CeCe) and my brothers (tikivato) wife Rosemary an excellent (imho) cosmopolitan now and then.served up in a niece martini glass, a cosmo adds a little special something when my brother and I are losing during our friday night rummy games. Arriano, I add 2 or 3 dashes of Fee's cranberry bitters to each drink-wow! Total wine in Brea has a fair selection of bitters including pumpkin??

 
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djmont
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2011
Posts: 365
From: Potomac Falls, VA
Posted: 2011-09-16 05:51 am   Permalink

Has anyone experimented with the new Falernum Bitters?

 
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rangda
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 13, 2010
Posts: 31
From: MA USA
Posted: 2011-09-16 08:03 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-09-16 05:51, djmont wrote:
Has anyone experimented with the new Falernum Bitters?



It's a bitters that tastes vaguely like falernum. Not so good in tiki drinks as a sub for Angostura, but it can spice up a tiki drink that doesn't contain bitters at all. Also good for use in non-tiki drinks to give them a hint of tiki flavor. They are a bit mellow, I tend to use an extra dash over whatever a recipe calls for (and add at least 2 dashes if adding to a drink that does not call for bitters).

Interesting subs for Angostura in tiki drinks include Bitter Truth Gerry Thomas, Fee's Oak Barrel, and Bitterman's Boston Bittahs. I've had less success with Bitterman's Tiki as like the falernum bitters it's too similar to all the other flavors already in the cocktail (although again it is good in a drink not calling for bitters or to tiki-ize a non-tiki drink). I haven't tried using Boker's Bitters in tiki yet but that would probably work well too. Fruit bitters IMO work less well in tiki as most tiki drinks already have a lot of fruit flavor going on in them, although I have a blueberry bitters that could be interesting to try.

Playing with bitters can be lots of fun, I think I'm up over 20 different bitters bottles at this point.


 
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Kahuna Kevin
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 179
From: Mountain View, CA
Posted: 2011-09-24 02:59 am   Permalink

I use bitters quite often in my cocktail books. Sometimes they're the missing link, and other times they're the final ingredient that breaks an otherwise great drink. The key is to mix ingredients in small quantities, taste and proceed. One method I use to choose bitters (and other ingredients) is to put a small amount of an ingredient on my palm/thumb, sip a drink and taste the bitters. You can usually tell if it's the right or wrong choice before adding a dash (or more) and completely wrecking a cocktail.

Bitters (and other herbals) I prefer and use in my cocktails are Peychaud's, Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6, Angostura (original recipe), Fee Brothers (original recipe), Fee Brothers (plum), Fernet Branca, Jagermeister, Campari, Underberg, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Becherovka Carlsbad Liqueur, Antica Vermouth, Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Balsamic of Modena... to name a few!

[ This Message was edited by: Kahuna Kevin 2011-09-24 03:46 ]


 
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