Today, I wanted to speak about the importance of bitters. My first introduction to bitters was that bottle of infrequently used Angostura in my parents’ liquor cabinet. I’m pretty sure that they had that same bottle for close to a decade. With the renewed interst in pre-prohibition and classic cocktails, there has been a need to have a variety of bitters in the modern liquor cabinet. It took me quite a while to find a bottle of Peychaud’s, but it’s impossible to make a proper Sazerac without it. As in cooking, you’re looking for balance. The bitters balance the sweetness, earthiness and acidity that are usually present in cocktails. Usually, only a dash or two is needed.
In addition to Angostura & Peychaud’s, there are some really great bitters out there by companies such as Fee Brothers, The Bitter Truth & Bittermens. Varieties range from bitter orange to xocolatl mole. Once you have your handle on these, there are many great recipes for bitters. My currently favorite is a recipe for Absinthe Bitters which comes from the book Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined. I have come up with a recipe for a Chartreuse Mojito, which uses these bitters. I have included the recipe for the Absinthe bitters below.
3 cups Pernod 68 absinthe (I actually used Herbsaint)
1/2 cup Green Chartreuse
1 teaspoon Peychaud’s bitters
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
2 tablespoons Fee Brothers mint bitters
Combine all ingredients in a liter bottle using a funnel. Cover or cork the bottle and gently turn upside down three times to blend. It keeps indefinitely. Makes 1 quart.
http://www.amazon.com/Speakeasy-Employees-Classic-Cocktails-Reimagined/dp/158008253X (Buy Speakeasy here)