Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Gift Guide - So So Bittersweet

The cocktail, born right here in America during the early days of bathtub gins, was a creation that was designed to mask the strong, and often unbearable flavors of alcohol.  Cocktails of the 19th Century almost always included Spirits, Sugar, Water, and Bitters.  Bitters often played a primary role of the cocktail, giving the cocktail the flavor of the herbal concoctions.  While bitters were once used by the Navy to help with nausea, they are also known to be used both as apéritifs and digestifs to help settle the stomach before all those cocktails come on.

Lucky for us, we are in a Bitter Renaissance, companies are making Bitters in an range of flavors from Orange, to Jamaican Jerk Bitters.  They can be had with soda water, or used to add some additional flavor notes to your favorite Spirit.  Either way, they are a unique and delicious gift.

Without further ado, some of our favorite Bitters:

1.  These Sage Bitters by Hella Bitters have caught our eye recently, a nice compliment to a very fruity cocktail, or a necessary ingredient for a sage martini.

2.  One of the most memorable cocktails we've ever had was a Smoky Bourbon & Coke.  So delicious.  Now you can make one in house, without the hassle of smoking your own Coke Syrup, with Bitter's Old Men Smoke Bitters.  Made with Lapsang Souchong Tea and Asian Pear.  Also recommended with Sake, Shochu and soju cocktails. 

3. We've heard that some like it hot.  Well, so do we.  Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters makes Sriracha Bitters, which we want to put in pretty much everything.  Especially our little sipping glasses of Root on ice. 

4.  Angostura Bitters are a basic for every liquor cabinet.  We like our Angostura just with soda water, but it can be used for everything from salad dressings to staining your wood floor

5.  Buy these for someone you really like, or perhaps these fall under the "gift to self" category.  Fee Brothers Whiskey Aged Bitters that are aged in an oak whiskey barrel from Tennessee.  These bitters are very rare, as they are only made once a year.  Perfect for Manhattans or other Bourbon based cocktails. 

6.  Orange bitters are pretty common - but how about Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters?  How about that to go with your Solerno cocktail??!!?

7. Need to pick up your tired Margarita?   We recommend Bitter's Old Men Prickly Pear Bitters.  Or just add a few drops to your sipping tequila, or a good Vodka for some added flavor (we recommend Reyka).

8.  Summer may have come and gone, but we're still craving that Henry Street Punch.  A surprisingly delicious cocktail made with Plymouth, sweet vermouth, celery bitters, celery mash, and the juice of fresh grapefruits and lemons.  The key ingredient - Celery Bitters.

9.  Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters were gifted to us, and are now an integral part of our home bar.  Whenever we need a little escape to the islands, a little Tiki goes in our spirits.  Great with Bourbon, Gin, or Vodka.   

Or if you can't seem to make up your mind - there are always Bitters Starter Kits - Fee Brothers offers a range of flavors: Original, Aztec Chocolate, Grapefruit, Rhubarb, Orange, and Cherry.   They key word there is and

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