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Mar 18, 2013 07:28 PM

Bittters recommendation

I'm soliciting recommendations on bitters to use in whiskey-based cocktails (mainly Manhattans or Old Fashioneds). Currently i have Angostura, Angostura Orange, Regan's Orange, Peychauds and Fee Brothers Aromatic. Thanks. ,

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  1. I'm a big fan of the Bitter Truth Aromatic and Jerry Thomas bitters.

    Another interesting one is the Boker's Bitters clone by Adam Elmegirab.

    Aside from those I don't personally reach too far when making Manhattans and other "classic" drinks. I think this is a combination of expecting a certain flavor profile in those drinks and the fact that a lot of the other bitters I have simply don't pair very well. I think Angostura is very, very tough to beat in this category.

    One that I'm very interested in, but haven't tried yet, is Dale DeGroff's Pimento (allspice) bitters. I think that would make a killer Old Fashioned.

    1. Scrappy's Chocolate bitters are very good in Manhattans. Bar Keep's Baked Apple bitters make good Old Fashioneds.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        I love Chocolate Bitters in Whiskey based cocktails. I have the Fee Brothers Aztech Chocolate.

        1. re: Josh

          I really like Bittermens Xocalatl Mole bitters -- chocolate without the Kiss. It goes well in brown spirits, plus tequila, of course.

          Their Hopped Grapefruit bitters is also excellent, although I tend to use it with gin and other clear spirits to bump the citrus without affecting the acid/sugar balance.

          I tend to use less orange bitters than other people. Orange is such a common flavor in cocktails that when I have an option, I tend to try other things. If you love orange bitters, try lemon or lime.

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        2. I had Fee Bros' Whiskey-Barrel Aged Bitters recommended to me, but I find it kind of one-note and not nearly as complex as angostura - it just tastes like liquid red hots (i.e. fake cinnamon). Is it just me?

          Very interested in the Boker's clone.

          6 Replies
          1. re: monopod

            I agree, it's very heavy on the cinnamon. But I do like it in various applications. It pairs really well with apple or pear brandy and is my go-to bitter in the autumn when I'm trying to make something evocative of the season. I also find that it works well in various tiki drinks.

            1. re: monopod

              Which vintage of the whiskey barrel fees do you have? They vary a bit from year to year. Which vintage is it that is heavy on the cinnamon. I have the 2007 and it is nicely, but not overly complex, maybe too bitter from the gentian and angostura bark, with a base that is slightly clove, fruit, mint, and floral.

              1. re: JMF

                I have all four of 2008 - 2011. All of them taste heavily of cinnamon, with various other subtle differences. (I think the cinnamon flavor increased and other flavors decreased along the way; 2008 is much more interesting and complex than 2011. I won't buy any more of them.)

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  I agree about the lack of complexity, but at least Fee WBA bitters is ... um ... bitter.

                  This is an objection to a lot of bitters. By the time they add any noticeable bitter aspect, their flavor(s) dominate.


                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Agreed. Thinking of bitters that actually have a heavily bitter flavor, not many come to mind.

                    Boker's is another that is fairly bitter (but also very nuanced).

                    I no longer have a bottle of Regan's orange, but I seem to recall that it's extremely bitter.

                    Scrappy's cardamom is bitter as well, but that's a case where the base flavor is so powerful that you may not get the bitterness unless you overdo it.

                2. re: JMF

                  Interesting, I didn't realize they varied that extensively from year to year. No idea which vintage I have - will have to check when I get home. Probably 2011, since I bought it in early 2012.

              2. I've enjoyed grapefruit bitters in an old-fashioned variation. Rye, simple, both angostura and grapefruit bitters. Grapefruit peel garnish.

                Obviously grapefruit plays well with gin/tequila as well, so even if you stick to whiskey it can be handy for guests.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Klunco

                  Second on the grapefruit bitters. Also wonderful in anything involving Campari, Aperol or Cynar, including a Boulevardier (rye, sweet vermouth and Campari).

                2. I love Woodford Reserve's bourbon barrel aged spiced cherry bitters in my Manhattans.