Man. Every time I think humankind has created every form of cocktail bitters imaginable, someone goes and proves me wrong. New bitters brands just keep coming, some with unusual flavors and others with delicious variations on classic styles. I’m working my way through the growing cornucopia of cocktail bitters, sampling the wares of upstart bitterers to let you know which bottles are worth buying.
The offerings I’ve reviewed here demonstrate the creativity of today’s producers of bitters. From your traditional cherry and orange bitters to more esoteric styles such as hop and fig, here are several bottles to seek out (and a couple that are skippable).
I seem to have forgotten to mention it here, but Carrie Allen of the Washington Post called me up recently to discuss the past, present, and future of shrubs. We talked a bit about the book (she enjoys it! neener neener, she’s seen it and you haven’t!) and discussed why shrubs are good to drink, either as a non-boozy treat or as a boozy one.
The conversation was fun, and her piece, which ran last week, captures my voice well, so I’m really delighted with it. Check it out here!
My posting frequency at SE has slipped to about twice a month these days, because BUSY. Anyway, here’s my latest.
We who love rum are very lucky people. It’s a category of spirits that offers many wonderful values—bottles that taste like they should cost way more than they actually do. You can very easily find great rums, both white and dark, under $20, and today, I’ll introduce you to a few of my favorites.
I’ll have a longer post up later, with some personal reflections on what was a very delightful trip. But for now, highlights from my trip to Mexico are up at Serious Eats.
Please read it and click through the slideshow!
Note from the Author: On a recent press trip hosted by Olmeca Altos Tequila, I toured the Destileria Colonial de Jalisco to see firsthand how tequila is made.
The Los Altos highlands of Jalisco are known for their iron-rich red soil and high altitude: we’re talking about 7,000 feet above sea level. (Take that, Mile High City!) This is where Olmeca Altos tequila is produced, in Arandas, about two hours east of Guadalajara. The distillery, Destileria Colonial de Jalisco, is fairly modern, having opened in 1997 to handle production of Patron, which, thanks to a business dispute, was only briefly produced at this plant.
With St. Patrick’s Day coming, I thought this would be a great time to look at a few good value brands of Irish whiskey. These bottles have character but won’t set you back more than $25.
Irish whiskey is one of the fastest-growing liquor categories in the United States right now, especially among younger people who are looking to develop a taste for whiskies. It’s easy to see why: Irish whiskey is smooth and sweet, but still tastes like a rich brown spirit. It’s a good transitional drink for people who are beginning to explore the world beyond vodka-sodas and tequila shots.
This one was fun, one of the times when the words started flowing and didn’t stop until I was finished writing.
Following up on last week’s discussion of the Negroni, I thought I’d take a bit of time and explore the world of bitter liqueurs. As I said then, “You hate Campari until that one moment when you love it, and then when you love it you never want your bottle to run dry.” But how does one go about learning to love Campari and, for that matter, other bitter liqueurs?
I am on the prowl now to find the best version of a Negroni that I can devise at home. I’m going to start by examining the gin. As we know, gin is a blend of neutral spirit and a mix of juniper and other aromatic herbs and spices. Some gin distillers push the juniper to the front, whereas others craft a spirit that’s more floral or citrusy. Which style of gin works best for a Negroni? I wanted to find out.
Read more, at Serious Eats.
I know I’m in a vanishing minority, but I still believe in blogging, and especially cocktail blogging. When I started my own blog eight years ago, I used it to report on cocktail trends, share recipes, talk about bartenders and techniques and ingredients, and—most importantly—connect with other people who had the same passion for cocktails that I have. Though there are many other venues now in which to share these stories, I still think blogs have a place for the kinds of longer-form writing that you won’t usually see on Facebook or even Tumblr.
Six months ago, I highlighted some of the newer cocktail blogs on the scene, but today I have a few more new and/or under-the-radar blogs to recommend.
I know that at the moment it seems I only keep this blog alive to post links to my stuff, but I hope that will change shortly, when I finally finish my manuscript. Anyway…
True Essentials for Your Home Bar: Bottles, Bitters, and Tools
I find that it’s easy to overthink the simple things. For example, I work from home while caring for two small children. Jeans and a black t-shirt are now my daily uniform at home. Why buy button-downs and polos and sweaters just to wear at home, when they’ll just get jam and drool and Angostura on them anyway?
It’s also all too easy to overthink the home bar, and to assume you need to spend a couple hundred at the Liquorteria just to get started. Here are some tips on the essentials you really need.
Bad rye whiskey? Sadly, there is such a thing as bad rye; usually, the juice is so young, it has no nuance or subtlety, and all you get is fire and unpleasant fruity flavors. But enough about the not-so-good stuff. Let’s talk instead of the stars of the budget-rye universe.
Good rye should be spicy, somewhat fruity, and a little more rugged than bourbon. A common analogy is to compare rye bread to corn bread, and use that comparison to point out the differences between rye and bourbon. (The analogy is imperfect, but it’s a reasonable starting point.)