Small batch bitters are making their mark on the cocktail scene. In cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco, cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders are rediscovering long lost recipes and coming up with new signature flavors which help create the palate of the New American Cocktail. While living in San Francisco in early 2007, Avery and Janet Glasser used high proof spirit and a variety of herbs, peels and spices to create an extract of a traditional Mexican cooking sauce. This extract became the prototype recipe for the Xocolatl Mole Bitters. The summer of 2010 marked a dramatic rebirth for Bittermens: winding down previous licensing agreements, striking new partnerships, developing new products and most importantly, leasing a commercial kitchen. All Bittermens products are now being made by hand at our Brooklyn facility using primarily organic ingredients. Bittermens also consults with bars and restaurants looking to develop signature in-house formulations.
We love spicy foods here at Bittermens. In fact, habaneros appear in everything from cream sauces to omelets at home. However, we have found that when people try to make spicy cocktails, much of the time the flavor falls short. The problem as we see it isn’t the heat – it’s how the heat is incorporated into the cocktail. Infusing jalapeño peppers into tequila is perfect if you want a tequila drink. However, simply putting commercial hot sauces, sambal or sriracha into a cocktail usually throws off the cocktail’s balance. The way that most hot sauces are made is by blending peppers with vinegar, salt and other spices. Vinegar, eh? That sure sounds like a shrub to us. Shrubs are classically refreshing fruit and vinegar-based syrups that were sweetened and diluted to make a beverage since revolutionary times. Instead of making a berry shrub or an orange shrub, why not make a hot pepper shrub? We’ve fortified the shrub with alcohol (to better extract the flavors from the spices) and made it much more concentrated, so you only need to use drops instead of ounces to get the desired effect… which, in this case, is a good ol’ bit of heat.