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Brian Robinson

Bitters

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I am currently making lavender bitters, well more of a tincture, unless I put some bitter base elements in...but I am not sure if those go with lavender tastewise.

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Tinctures work well if you simply want the lavender flavor. But if you want it to be a bitters, I'd recommend following the guidelines mentioned with regards to the delicately flavored bitters, such as the rosemary melon.

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In your vast experience, has the use of a higher or lower quality spirit had much affect on the overall product? I've had the "never use cheap ingredients" mantra ingrained into my head by the likes of Jamie Boudreau but I'm not sure how applicable that is here. Most of the literature I've read on the issue has been silent in that regard.

 

Also, my next batch of bitter experimentation will involve attempts to create bitters that mirror some of my favorite spice blends (Garam Masala and the Melting Pot's house seasoning w/ red wine lees). Do you have any advice?

 

Finally, have you experimented with macerating flavor profiles individually and then mixing them for the final project? All my experimentation has been done in a method similar to yours and its worked out relatively well. However, there's a school of thought (the aforementioned Canadian, in particular) that feels with the different flavor intensities of different ingredients, they will absorb at different speeds and thus should macerate separately to keep each flavor from being drowned out. It makes sense on paper, but do you have any thoughts or empirical evidence going the other way?

Sorry for all the questions, I just get really excited about bitters, haha

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I definitely love me some bitters, so I understand completely. :)

 

Regarding the 'low quality ingredient' issue, I'm of similar mind with you. While many people advocate simply using a watered down Everclear, Gemclear, etc, I've always found them to taste harsh. I don't normally go the top shelf route though either. Just like with cooking, I tend to use something that I wouldn't mind drinking on its own.

 

I've done the separate infusions in the past as well. My system has evolved to the point where I now make up two versions of the bitter blend (one more bitter, and one less so), and have large quantities of that in bottles waiting to be used. Then I mix up the aromatic blend separately. Finally, I do the flavor blend by itself so I can experiment with all of them to find the best balance. So in a sense, it's a mix of the batching and the individual infusions.

 

Hope that helps!

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I completely admire all of your efforts in making this stuff - it looks far more elaborate than I would have ever imagined.

 

I am wondering, though - where in the world would I find bitters for sale out here in Belgium?

I've tried looking in every single major spirits retailer to see if they also have it.

I know it exists out here because there's a guy in Gent who uses Peychaud's.

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Caramel

Add 1 cup sugar to a pan [...] pour into 25 oz of water

 

Small question...is this correct? I ended up with a very brown pan of semi-sweet water and not really caramel, per se.

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Yes. You're not actually supposed to get 'caramel', per se. You're supposed to get burnt sugar dissolved in water. The idea being that it will add coloring as well as a bitter/sweet component. :)

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