Archive for December 2012 | Monthly archive page
The Old Fashioned is such a simple but fulfilling cocktail. A sugar cube muddled with bitters, plenty of your favorite bourbon or rye (or both), slowly adding bourbon and ice to your mixing vessel while stirring was the drink of choice for many a cocktailian in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. The drink fell out of favor as the Nobel Experiment hit then saw a bit of resurgence in the 1950’s, most notably by those slick dressed ad guys at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce. By the 1970’s, the drink had become a caricature of itself all gussied up with a muddled fruit salad orange, cherry and pineapple with a splash of soda. Thankfully, all things go full circle and the wondrous Old Fashioned is back in form. Whiskey, sugar, bitters, and maybe, just maybe, a hint of something else so long as the essence of the drink remains intact.
Here is a bit of a different play on the Old Fashioned that combines the spiciness of the rye and herbal quality of the Bénédictine with Dale DeGroff’s lovely pimento bitters, Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont’s delightful Blackberry syrup, and our AZBL Figgy Pudding bitters. The add-ons just providing a hint of depth and complexity while letting the rye and the bitters shine.2.5oz Templeton rye 0.25oz Bénédictine 1 barspoon of rich syrup (2:1 sugar to water) 1 barspoon of blackberry syrup 1 dash of Dale’s pimento bitters 2 dashes of AZBL Figgy Pudding bitters
Combine, add ice, stir, strain into rocks glass with a couple of ice cubes
We’re often asked about uses for bitters other than in cocktails. Bitters are a form of flavoring extract so it’s a natural for recipes that call for vanilla extract or the like. When substituting with bitters, always start with about half of what the recipe calls for using a conventional flavor extract. Then taste and add more if desired. Also remember that the bitterness can be offset by a bit more sugar.Bittered Whipped Cream 1 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/3 cup confectionery sugar 1 tsp AZBL Figgy Pudding or Más Mole bitters
Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks are formed.
Bitters are typically specified by the dash. Add a dash of bitters. Add two dashes. But what is a “dash” and how does one measure it? For the measuring type, 1 dash = 1/8th of a teaspoon (or 1/6th, in some references). Even with this imprecisely precise information, it’s hard to accurately measure 1/8th teaspoon even if you have a 1/8th teaspoon measuring cup (which I do) as surface tension effects will give you varied measures.
For bitters with a shaker top (like ours at AZBL), some say a quick, hard shake over the mixing glass puts out a “dash”. Others like to tip the bottle slowly and let gravity coax the liquid, drop by drop, out of the bottle. In this case, something like 6-8 drops are comparable to a “dash”. What we do know is that the hole in the top of various bitters shaker tops varies from company to company and even within the product lines of a single company so counting drops isn’t a foolproof measuring approach for accuracy either. Still others go the eyedropper route with more precise control over counting droplets but the hole in the tip of glass droppers varies with bottle supplier or dropper size. Assuming using the same bitters bottle, the drop counting approach will at least give you consistency from drink to drink, yet not accuracy.
So how much bitters should be used and how should it be measured? This is really akin to asking how much salt or pepper should I use. Ingredients in bulk tend to have a measurement assigned to them. Add ¼ cup of raisins. Add 1 cup of chopped tomato. This type of ingredient is pretty easy to measure and in most cases don’t have to be measured precisely. In baking, measurements can be particularly important which is why people turn to very accurate weight-based measurement instead of volume-based. But seasonings, like salt, pepper, or even bitters, are often specified as “to taste”. You add some, you try, you add some more. Guidance like “a dash” or “two dashes” are a good starting point.
It’s far easier to add more salt than it is to take some out. We treat bitters the same way. First combine all of your other cocktail ingredients in your mixing glass. Taste. Add some bitters – maybe a single shake, maybe counting out 3-4 drops, taste again, adjust, taste, repeat. After a while, you’ll get the feel for it based on the flavor of your drink or recipe prior to adding the bitters.
So how do you add your bitters to a cocktail? Do you do the shake? Do you precisely measure by the drop? Do you like your cocktails gently bittered or aggressively so?
Let us know…and happy cocktails!
It sure was a busy first 24 hours for AZBL since going live with online and retail sales.
It started with our first online sale shortly after opening our virtual doors, then a second, and a third….
This morning found that we had been selected by Good Food Allies to be featured as part of their Twelve Days of Good Food Gifting. We’re very excited to be part of such a vibrant and supportive food community here in Phoenix.
This afternoon we dropped off some bottles at Pig & Pickle, a hot new restaurant in Scottsdale that is getting rave reviews. Look for Figgy Pudding and Más Mole behind the bar and on their signature menu in Clayton’s variations of the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan.
After that we went by Urban Table at JAM and are so thrilled that Traci and RJ are our first retail partner! Please do go visit and check out all of the artisan products both in the chef’s larder and throughout JAM.
Whew. Time for a drink. Cheers!