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Mar 25, 2011 11:54 AM

Tobacco infusions and bitters

Not a good idea:

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  1. Tobacco bitters still fall in the safe range when used dashwise (nicotine amounts of a fraction of a cigarette).

    But for drinking in larger quantities, there is a tobacco liqueur (a distillation process that leaves the nicotine behind) that apparently still retains much of the glorious flavor of the infusion.

    3 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      Mr. Yarm, you are talking about Perique. One of Ted Breaux's liqueurs. Not available in the US, and I am not sure how many batches he actually made, but he sent me a bottle when he first put it out. Yes, it's nicotine free, I forgot what the process was. But it uses Perique tobacco, a fermented tobacco considered a 'spice' tobacco in the world of pipe tobacco. (I used to be a pipe tobacco blender in a former life) Only about 40 acres in Louisiana grow Perique, which is then fermented similar to how Tabasco sauce is, in large sealed barrels.

      1. re: yarm

        As bitters are generally much more concentrated in flavor than regular ingredients, one might worry that a homemade tobacco bitters might be made very concentrated, by infusing a large amount of tobacco in a small volume of alcohol. Or someone might get the idea of making a cocktail that uses large amounts of "non-potable" bitters, such as a riff on the Trinidad Sour or Gunshop Fizz.

        My last inhaled cigarette was in puberty, but as I recall it made me sick.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          If you look at Darcy's quantities for the liquor infusion, they are the same concentration of most tobacco bitter recipes I saw. People (on facebook and twitter) made the logical jump that several shots worth of it was just as harmful as using them as bitters. A dash of bitters comes out to a fraction of the nicotine inhaled in a cigarette.

          It's probably not worth arguing since it's understood the people are stupid (the best argument I heard was "yes, tobacco bitters are safe, but once someone gets the idea that tobacco can be infused in alcohol for bitters, they'll overdo in their whiskey/rum bottle"). The stupidity of people also includes the use of alcohol itself which gets tons of people sick or dead each year.