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Confused with Bitters

I bravely refused any horrible puns. Anyhow, I live in an area where I am lucky to see Angostura Bitters in a liquor store, so I planned to buy some via internet. My first target was Orange bitters. I know next to nothing about bitters and am seeking education. Seems here there are angostura, Regan's no 6, and fee brothers. Usually I hear mention of Regans'. is that my best bet? Anything in particular I should know about bitters in general or a good source for such information? Thank you in advance.

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  1. Why don't you make your own? Here's the CHOW story: http://www.chow.com/stories/11154

    Then you can use which ever you'd like. I whipped this drink up the other day: http://www.chow.com/recipes/12153

    Of course you'll have to order the fancy cherries. Or you could wait for the 'Make your own maraschino cherries' story.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

      I did see that story and was intrigued, but having no familiarity with bitters, I hoped to have something to compare them to before making my own - unless of course all of these are rather horrible in comparison. Thank you much though.

    2. Gosh, bitters are such a subjective thing. I found out through trial and error that I really didn't enjoy Angostura but love Peychaud bitters. I'm eager to try other types but Peychaud makes a killer Old Fashioned (and I use more than usual). Experiment, and enjoy!

      1. In my opinion the three essentials are Angostura, Peychaud's and Regan's Orange. I prefer the Regan's Orange over Fee Orange. I feel the Fee are a bit too sweet. I haven't had a chance to try the Angostura Orange as yet.

        If you pick up those three you'll have a solid footing for beginning some exploration in to cocktails with bitters.

        Unlike 5 and Dime I wouldn't suggest making your own right from the start. I think in making your own you need to have a feel for what you're looking for in the flavor profile. Starting with store bought bitters will give you a good introduction and let you decide which flavors you'd like highlighted were you to make your own.

        1. One advantage of the Fee's online is that for a pretty reasonable price you can get their set. I find myself using the same two or three the most (the normal and the orange), and I also use whiskey barrel aged bitters a lot too, especially now that cold weather is upon us.

          I've been able to do pretty well without Peychaud's at home (I do have good cocktail bars nearby when I get a hankering for a sazerac and other drinks that call for it though). They are on my list, but Angostura and a bottle of orange bitters (I'm using Fee's, but I smoke enough that the subtlety between that and Regan's is mostly lost on me) would be a great start.

          1. Bitters perplex me too.

            I have a sad and barely used bottle of Campari in my fridge. I guess it's considered a bitter.

            Poor little fella.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Metalee

              Try a Negroni, I think you'll be extremely pleased. My first experiments with Campari, namely a Campari and Soda ended very poorly, putting a bad taste in my mouth, pun fully intended. I shelved my bottle of Campari for a couple of months until I featured the Negroni on my blog. My view of Campari changed radically from that point on.

              Here is the basic recipe:

              Negroni

              1 oz Gin (I like Plymouth)
              1 oz Campari
              1 oz Sweet Vermouth
              3 Dashes Orange Bitters
              Orange Twist for Garnish

              Stir the above with ice to chill and serve on the rocks or strain in to a cocktail glass.

              If you'd like to read all my thoughts check out my blog. The link is in my profile.

              1. re: ShadowedOne

                Not sure you really need the orange bitters in a Negroni, since Campari, as mentioned, is already a bitter.

                What is nice is to flame an orange peel over the drink.

                1. re: ShadowedOne

                  I've always done Negronis as 2 oz. Gin, 1 oz, each Campari and Sweet Vermouth, and twisting a lemon and a lime peel over the glass then stir and serve with the 2 peels. As to what bitters to use, it depends on the drink. I have 4 different orange bitters(Regan's, Stirring"s, De Kuyper{from the 50's } and an unlabeled on from the 40's), Fee Bros' whiskey barrel aged, Fee bros Lemon, Peach, Grapefruit, and Mint; Angostura, Peychaud's and 2 home made ones. I use all of them for differnt drinks.

                  1. re: chazzerking

                    The Negroni is great when you want a real drink and the bartender might not be up to it: It is traditionally equal proportions. (I can't count how many bartenders have said to me, "We don't have any Negroni.")

                    I don't use the orange bitters -- as Alcachofa said you've got the Campari bitter -- but it's worth a try sometime. Try a slice of orange as garnish.

                    1. re: Up With Olives

                      The orange bitters play off the orange flavors in the Campari. I'd strongly suggest giving it a try some time.