As there has been a whiskey renaissance, a bitters revival also has happened, especially in the past 15 or so years. Pre-prohibition, there were 100’s of different bitters brands, whittled down to two, and stayed that way until the 1950’s where Fee Bros introduced their now well-recognized (and delicious) citrus bitters. Now, in 2019, there are dozens and dozens of commercial brands again, not to mention all of the hobby/bar/home batch enthusiasts (like me) who have not only come to appreciate the history, but have now become obsessed with collecting, and in the case of the home-maker, searching far and wide for ingredients to give their bottles a uniqueness in their home liquor cabinet.
My Personal Bitters Project
I don’t know exactly when I personally got excited about making my own bitters, but it certainly comes out of the aforementioned passion to do more things myself.
Believe it or not I made 3 batches my first round. A “house” bitter that was supposed to be like Angostura (it wasn’t), a citrus (lacked some depth), and then something that gave me great hope, an apple.
We got some apples from the farm we go to in Carnation (organic, etc.) and I am not exactly sure what it was, but the flavor was the deepest, reddest (if that is possible) apple bitterness I have ever experienced. It is simply delightful and as I joke to anyone that will listen, something the founding fathers would have wanted.
My next three batches were different and something that I am certainly proud of. I made a deeper, more citrusy bitters round two, a coffee pecan that I made with bourbon and a friend of mine’s espresso roast and lastly, I made a batch of bitters that were a homage to my heritage. I made an “Irish House” bitters using my favorite Irish Whiskey, Tullamore Dew, and many different botanicals. I don’t think this is very common, but boy it was fun and has a very distinct taste, especially when mixed with soda by itself, or in an Old Fashioned. Like a good Irishman, it plays well with others.
So if you like, give our little small-batch bitters a try and let us know how you like it?
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