The Return Of Bitters

Great read

The Cultivated Mind

Before Prohibition, a cocktail wasn’t a cocktail without bitters. But for many years, bitters were forgotten and Angostura was about the only brand you could find, and even that bottle would’ve been covered in dust. Now bitters are back, thanks in large part to the revival of classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan.

What Are Bitters?
Bitters are a relatively small player in the overall content of a cocktail, yet just a few drops of bitters make a liquor concoction far more interesting, adding complexity and balance while drawing out the other flavors in the drink. Bitters are generally a concentrated high-proof alcohol base infused with herbs, roots, barks, spices and sometimes fruits. They began as a medicinal substance in Europe consumed by the glass, but became part of the cocktail menu in the early 19th century. Only a few dashes are needed in any drink, but…

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Brining for St. Patty’s Day

My So Called Foodie Life

St. Patrick’s Day is this coming Sunday, and my hubby and I are attempting to brine a brisket, to make corned beef and cabbage. This will be our first time, so we’re hoping for the best LOL Now to let the brine cool off over night, before we soak the brisket in it, until Sunday. We used the recipe below for the brine…easy peasy lemon squeezy!!

How to Cure Your Own Corned Beef

Bon Appetit Everyone 🙂

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Nonna's Hot Chocolate

One of the main reasons I wanted to make the coffee cynar foam was for the idea of this cocktail. Every young Italian American boy has memories of their Nonna, in this case it was my great grandmother, who came to the US at the age of 18.  She used to always put a dash of amaretto into hot chocolate after playing out in the snow for that little bit extra to warm you up and that is where I came up with the idea for this drink. Winter was coming and it was time for a hot cocktail.

There was no better way to take inspiration from your Nonna in a cocktail that to use Italian liquors of course.

Nonna’s Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate, Amaretto, coffee Cynar foam, cinnamon, whisky barrel bitters

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LABeerWeek cocktailsIn Honor of LA  I thought I’d make more beer cocktails! In the top right I made of course the fan favorite The Blond Likes Gin except now served with a nice lemon slice garnish which is how I think it shall be served from now on. I also took another crack at making something with Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Porter. This time around it was much better than the first, but still not quite there yet. Have a favorite beer cocktail? I’d love to hear about it!


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A Brief History of Bitters

A Brief History of Bitters.

I’m reposting this very interesting article from the…..

In 1803, the Farmer’s Cabinet, an agriculture periodical published in Philadelphia, first mentioned the word “cocktail” to refer to a drink—and not a horse with a shortened tail. Another early description of a cocktail, from 1806, calls for four ingredients: “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.”

Bitters occupy a curious niche in the history of food and drinks, especially given their early history as patent medicines with rather dubious reputations. Take one of the oldest, Angostura. Originally, the company’s greenish-tinted bottles contained an herbal concoction made from roots, bark, and spices. The “Aromatic Bitters” took their name from the Venezuelan city where they were first created (Angostura was subsequently rechristened Cuidad Bolivar in 1846). Interestingly, early botanists also gave the name Angostura to three different species of trees, including Galipea officinalis. Because the bitters’ recipe is a tightly guarded secret, locked in a vault and known by only five employees, whether the trademarked concoction once contained the bark from any of these Angosturas remains something of a mystery. Either way, the recipe’s since to be reformulated—in much the same way that Coca-Cola removes the potent alkaloids in coca leaves—and now Angostura neither contains Angostura, nor is it produced in Angostura.

I was curious about how bitters went from being drugs to an intrinsic part of today’s cocktail renaissance. I spoke with Brad T. Parsons, the author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas from his home in New York.

How did bitters evolve from a substance kept behind the apothecary to a staple in the modern cocktail?

The English used bitters in this drink called Canary wine. They were putting medicinal herb-based dashes and drops in these drinks, but bitters really exploded in American Colonial times, up through Prohibition. The word “bitters” is in the definition of the first printed usage of the word “cocktail.” It was any drink consisting of spirits, water, sugar, and bitters… There is some murkiness about when it went from being something someone sipped on its own as a medicinal to when it went into a cocktail, but people were taking these high-proof root-, botanical-, fruit-, or seed-based infusions for medicinal value.

Around 1824, Johann Siegert, who was a doctor in Venezuela, began making Angostura as a stimulant for the troops to help them with malaria and keep them on their feet. As we get to the golden age of the cocktail, the late 1800s, bitters became more synonymous with cocktails no matter what bar you went to.

Even during the Temperance movement, people who were teetotalers were still drinking bitters even though it was a high-proof infusion. During that time, people were putting these bitters into a poorer quality spirit, which was a way for it to taste better, or people were applying alcohol to their bitters to help their medicine go down, so to speak. I was never really able to pinpoint the year we went from these corked, apothecary bottles that people would nip to when they started putting them into their drinks and it became more of a concentrated drop versus a splash or a nip.

Then we get up to 2004, when Gary Regan put his bitters back on the market and now you can get a dozen different bitters. There is a little bit of “everything old is new again” charm to it, but also it was a lot of people seeking out old copies and the internet leveling the playing field by finding old, rare books, you didn’t have to physically travel around and buy them at auctions, you could buy them online.

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Alton Brown Cocord Grape Royal, using Orange Bitters

Concord Grape Royal
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2012

Show: Food Network SpecialsEpisode: Thanksgiving Live,Recipe categories: Wine, Fruit, Grapes, more

Total Time:1 hr 50 min
Prep10 min
Inactive30 min
Cook1 hr 10 min
Yield: about 8 servings

Concord Grape Syrup:
4 cups 100-percent Concord grape juice
One 8-inch sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2-inch square cube crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar

One 750 ml bottle rose champagne, chilled
Orange bitters
Concord grapes, halved, for serving
Orange rinds, for serving

For the Concord grape syrup: Combine the grape juice, rosemary and ginger in a 2-quart saucepan. Reduce the mixture for 1 hour over medium-low heat. When the mixture has reduced by half, add the balsamic and continue cooking until the mixture has reduced by half again, about 10 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Strain and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

For the cocktails: Add 1 ounce of the grape syrup to each champagne flute. Top with 4 ounces champagne and 2 to 3 dashes of bitters. Top each glass with a skewered grape half and orange rind piece.


Don’t be bitter, don’t be old fashioned….get your imagination rolling….
I have a case of bitters…for you to borrow:
Orange, Rhubarb, Peach, Grapefruit, Cranberry, Aztec Chocolate, Black Walnut, Lemon, Cherry, Celery, Plum, Mint, , Aromatic.
Don’t get cold feet….I have a cookbook with some great suggestions- Ribs with a lacquered Bitters glaze, Bourbon-Bitters Ham Glaze, Broiled Bitters Grapefruit…there is even a site dedicated to Angostura bitters…   Mmm, I’m thinking about a mole with the Aztec Chocolate, A sweet and sour with the orange, the celery has an umami…, the black walnut a hint of sweet and smoke.  OK, I opened up every bottle to sniff.
The bottles will come with me to the club on Friday…you can pick your bottle then…
If you are going with Angostura you get to BYOB…
It’s always best to make small portions and to make a little sign to identify your dish.Bitters


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DOTW: A Manhattan, In The Big [Cran]Apple


Fall has always been one of my favorite drinking seasons. Hard ciders, Bourbons, and more recently, maple syrup have all become crucial parts of my fall cocktail painting pallet. This week’s Drink of the Week is a simple Infusiasm variation of one of my favorite fall cocktails that was introduced to me via ‘Madtini’: The Maple Manhattan.


A Manhattan, In The Big [Cran]Apple

2 oz. cran-apple-infused bourbon
¼ oz. sweet vermouth
¼ oz. maple syrup
2 dashes Fee Brother’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
(or Fee Brother’s Cranberry Bitters)
garnish: cherry & apple slice flag



– combine ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice
– shake vigorously
– strain into chilled cocktail glass


Often times the key to a great infused drink is starting with a great recipe and adding your own simple twist. You don’t always have to re-invent the wheel to make a…

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