Posts Tagged ‘Bitters’

by Pink Lady

We LUPEC gals are some bitter broads…when it comes to cocktails, anyway. We’ve been fans of The Bitter Truth products since we got our hot little hands on test samples a while back, and eagerly awaited the Boston launch of this brand for years. The Bitter Truth bitters became available in the Bean a few months back and we’re now thrilled to announce that The Bitter Truth founders, Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck, are coming to Boston, too.

The exciting roster of consumer events lined up include a fabulous Meet & Greet/Tasting at The Boston Shaker from 6-7 p.m. tomorrow followed by a seminar at DownTown Wine & Spirits from 8-9:30. There are still a few spots left for this, so make sure to reserve your spot today!

If you can’t make it to either event tomorrow, Stephan and Alexander will be guest bartending at Eastern Standard on Thursday from 4 – 7 p.m. Come by for a drink and to chat about their famous brand of artisanal bitters.


Meet-and-Greet with The Bitter Truth founders Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck at The Boston Shaker

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010, 6:00-7:00 p.m., FREE
The Boston Shaker
69 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Bitters Seminar at DownTown Wine & Spirits

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010, 8-9:30 p.m., $35/per person
225 Elm St
Somerville, MA, 02144

Join the founders of The Bitter Truth, Alex and Stephan, as they walk through the history of bitters with a focus on the cocktail. From the 18th century through the birth of the saloon to the bar and cocktail culture we know today, this seminar will explore myths, facts, and developments in the world of bitters. We’ll discuss early brands, defunct brands, and changes to the product over time while revealing true historical facts of well-established brands and offering insight into The Bitter Truth range of products.

Sign up via The Boston Shaker.

GUEST BARTENDING: The Bitter Truth’s Alex and Stephan Shaking it Up Behind the Bar at Eastern Standard

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
528 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215-2606
(617) 532-9100

Sample drinks made with The Bitter Truth’s sought-after line bitters, shaken and stirred by founders Alex Hauck and Stephan Berg themselves!

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*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ’em in the Dig’s Gift Guide.

compiled by Pink Lady, Pinky Gonzales & Pink Gin

It surely comes as no surprise that LUPEC Boston favors boozy presents for the holidays. We’ve all gifted a nice bottle of hooch in our day, bien sur, but there are countless other ways to think outside the scotch bottle and give creative, innovative gifts to your loved ones this holiday season. A few items on our hot list:


Badass Professional Cocktail Set

“Give a man a fish” versus “Teach a man to fish” and all that. You can’t make good cocktails at home without the right tools, and giving them to friends is a great way to ensure you’re served a properly made drink when entertained in their home. Eschew the shiny Bar Tool Sets you’ll find at Crate & Barrel and bundle up your own Professional Version, including a Boston shaker (mixing glass and shaker tin), Hawthorne strainer, julep strainer, bar spoon, muddler, Joyce Chen enameled hand juicer, and jigger or Oxo angled measuring cups – the recipient will be good to go. For one-stop shopping, visit The Boston Shaker store once it opens in Davis Square (check the website for updates on the not yet announced opening date) or shop online at thebostonshaker.com.

Cocktail Book + Ingredients to Get Started

This is the part where we shamelessly plug our own Little Black Book of Cocktails ($15, 100% of the proceeds go the charity; available at Grand the Store or thebostonshakerstore.com). Filled with 35+ delicious recipes, quotes about cocktailing, and stunning photography by local shutterbug Matt Demers, this slim volume is fun and easy to mix from. Wrap it up with the ingredients to make your favorite recipe and the recipient will have a bona fide party on their hands. We recommend the Hearst (featured on Pinky Gonzales’ page) made with London Dry or Plymouth gin, Italian vermouth, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters, as these ingredients are essential for many other classic cocktails.

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

The latest edition ($19.99, Barnes & Noble, Amazon) features 100 recipes excavated by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh, and the stories behind them. Peppered with lovely cocktail photos, vintage alcohol advertisements, pictures of old cocktail tomes and long discontinued bottle designs, it’s as delightful to look at as it is to mix from. Another great candidate for the previously mentioned Cocktail Book + Ingredients formula, this book is perhaps best paired with a Basket of Nips, thus offering the gift of experimentation without commitment to whole bottles of hooch you’re the recipient may not like or use much. Tiny bottles of homemade grenadine or special syrups add a lovely, personal touch.


Vintage Cocktail Book Reproductions by Mudpuddle Books

These gorgeous reproductions of long out-of-print cocktail tomes are fodder for cocktail and publishing nerds alike. Mudpuddle Books has resurrected sought after and nearly extinct volumes, from Jerry Thomas’ seminal Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks: The Bon Vivants Companion ($29.95) to Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual ($29.95), to the recently released reprint of Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo R. Ensslin ($19.95), the last cocktail book to be published before Prohibition. All are reproduced with exacting attention to detail – even the paper feels old. Available at www.cocktailkingdom.com.


Ice Stuff

You can’t make a good cocktail without good ice, and once a cocktail enthusiast is turned on to this, they cannot live without it. Your ice nerd pals will love a grab bag of ice tools, including a set of Tovolo Perfect Cube Silicone Ice Trays ($14.99 for a set of two, Amazon.com) that ensure dense, square ice every time, a Manual Ice Crusher ($28, http://thebostonshaker.com) for crushed-ice efficiency, and Hand-Stitched Lewis Ice Crushing Bag ($16, http://thebostonshaker.com) and mallet, that allows them to crush ice the old-fashioned way, and simultaneously release aggression.

Obscure Bitters

You may not know what to do with a bottle of Scrappy’s Lavendar Bitters ($20, http://thebostonshaker.com) but your cocktail nerd friend certainly will. More importantly they will appreciate the thought, especially when it comes to bitters that are hard to find. Assemble a set based on a theme, such as Fruit Bitters, different brands of Chocolate Bitters, or any set of the Bitter Truth bitters (a brand the market anxiously anticipated for over a year) and win major thoughtfulness points. Prices vary; available from $6 – $20 at thebostonshaker.com and $8.95 to $15.95 at www.cocktailkingdom.com.


Vintage Glassware & Shakers

Sick of sipping drinks from the massive 8-10 oz martini glasses you bought at Ikea? A marvelous world of vintage bar ware awaits, most of which is available for bargain basement prices at antique shops, flea markets, and of course, on Ebay. Sourcing takes time, but your gift of a 1950s era martini pitcher and set of vintage cocktails glasses emblazoned with jockeys and racing horses is bound to impress. And no one needs to know you purchased it all from a little old lady in Iowa for just $33 on Ebay, including shipping.

Flask Full of (Insert Spirit of Choice)

If you had a nickel for every time you thought “Gee, I wish I had a flask with me” you’d be rich. Oh no, wait – that’s just us. But really, every cocktail enthusiast should have a flask, even if it’s just for show. The gift become especially sweet if filled with a loved one’s favorite tipple (which for a LUPEC lady might be Fernet, Mezcal, Whisky, or a 60/40 mixture of St-Germain and Averna.) Flasks run the gambit in terms of design, size and price, from stainless steel, leather covered, pink crocodile, and cell phone shaped, ranging anywhere from 2 – 8 ounces in size, and available from Target to the many varied portals of the Internet. We recommend the 8-ounce Stanley “Classic” ($20), for its size, durability, lifetime warranty, and leak-proof guarantee.

If boozy gifts aren’t what you’re after but you’d like to sip some booze while you shop, stop by Grand tonight, where LUPEC will be doling out 2 fabulous (and strong) punches from 7-10 p.m.

Cin-cin, and Happy Holidays!

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zenmartini1 by Pinky Gonzales

For those of you who consider the Pink Gin an old familiar friend (not to be confused with LUPEC member Pink Gin), below you’ll find an array of comments on its existence. For the unacquainted, or who read this week’s Dig column to the bitter end, Pink Gin is a keep-it-simple, Zen-like libation, which looks tranquil enough but can scorch your gizzard if drank with abandon. However, it’s a fine way to try various brands of gin and bitters if you wish, or simplify life in general while achieving enlightenment.

Plymouth gin is most favored here for it’s palatable smoothness and historical use. High-ranking British Royal Navy Officers were known to celebrate their high seas happy hour with straight gin-with-bitters (as opposed to swilling ubiquitous rum like their lowly, not possibly as manly, subordinates). Angostura bitters was something sailors were accustomed to as a remedy for sea sickness, fevers, and stomach disorders, so why not mix medicines, right? They referred to this cocktail as “pinkers” or “pink gin.” They even had a special flag or “gin pennant” on ship they’d hoist up announcing it was Miller time in the wardroom to other ships’ officers. It was an inconspicuous green triangle which depicted a drinking glass.

“It certainly goes a ways toward explaining how an island off the coast of Europe ended up ruling one-fourth of the earth’s land surface,” quips David Wondrich. His Esquire drinks database recipe instructs one to roll around a few good drops of Angostura in an Old-Fashioned glass, dump them out, then pour in 2 ounces of Plymouth et voilà.

Personally, I like a chilled Pink Gin, but not all my fellow LUPEC’rs do or care. Robert Hess has a good video of himself stirring up a Pink Gin and serving it in a small cocktail glass. He uses 1.5 oz of Hendrick’s in his. It’s on his excellent Small Screen Network here. If you are easily distracted like me you can mouse your cursor over the liquor bottles and watch the words “liquor bottles” pop up, or over Robert’s shirt that it declares a “bowling shirt,” etc. Just saying.

LUPEC Boston’s one-and-only water engineer and devoted Kingsley Amis fan, Pink Gin, says that the traditional Plymouth with Angostura, warm or chilled, is her preference. She was very against Amis’ preferred Booth’s Gin,  however, though she and “DUDEPEC” member K. Montuori both agree that Miller’s Gin with a little orange bitters “makes for a nice change of scenery.”

The honorary Barbara West likes Plymouth with Angostura “warm and blushing,” while LUPEC Prez Hanky Panky similarly likes “rose-colored.”

Other variations: Pink Lady says a chilled, Genever “pinker” is a positive experience. Fee’s peach bitters with Old Tom gin is a personal favorite variation, though Bourbon Belle and I do not recommend this as a way to finish off an evening of imbibing.
And lastly, Panky, Joe Rickey, and “John Collins” (Dudepec) over at Drink have been setting afire the Angostura then pouring in 2 oz Plymouth. They’ve been referring to this as “Burnt Toast”, and it is positively dee-licious.

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This week in the Dig I wrote a brief history of the cult favorite Fernet Branca.  If you are new to the world of Fernet having an entire bottle sitting on your shelf can seem a bit daunting, to say the least.  You’ve choked down a few shots in an attempt to be part of the club, but the appreciation for this bitter elixir isn’t quite there yet.  It seems as though the eagle with the Fernet in his talons is taunting you as you’re thinking there must be an easier way to get to the bottom of that green bottle.

Fear not my friends!  Here are a few more cocktails to help open your palate to the complex and ultimately rewarding world of Fernet Branca.


An entire country can’t be wrong.  In Argentina one million cases of Fernet Branca are consumed annually in this fashion.  Fernet and Cola is a delicious, symbiotic relationship in which the bitterness of the Fernet and the sweetness of the cola temper one another perfectly.  It’s a balanced boozie bear hug in a glass.

2 oz Rye 
.5 oz Fernet Branca
Dash of Simple Syrup
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients with ice for 30 seconds.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  

I have frequently described this drink as my savior as it is equally adept at “setting me straight” the day after a night of overindulgence or soothing a very full belly after a deliciously large meal.  I prefer to use a rye of higher proof when making this cocktail, such as Rittenhouse Rye or Sazerac 6 Yr Rye.  

This recipe comes to us courtesy of Jeff Grdinich, White Mountain Cider Company, Bartlett NH.  He describes it as his irreverent tribute to Chuck Taggart and Chuck’s cocktail, the Hoskins.
2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
.75 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz Luxardo Maraschino
.5 oz Fernet Branca

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  If you are using LUPEC approved vintage glassware, chill down a second stem and invite over a friend because this is a pretty big cocktail!  

This one come to us courtesy of Murray Stenson at the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle.
.75 oz Bourbon
.5 oz Cherry Brandy
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz Velvet Falernum
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  

1 oz Aperol
.5 oz Fernet Branca
1 oz Tonic Water

Build over ice in a low ball.  Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy

1 oz Punt e Mes
.5 oz Fernet Branca
Soda Water

Build over ice in a highball, adding soda to taste.  Garnish with an orange slice.

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