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.
Back in 2012, our Spanish importer asked if we could make bitters that would complement a gin and tonic that had a heavy cucumber note to it. The bitters that we came up with were amazing – bright briny cucumber notes and aroma that were supported by tart Chinese winter melon and aromatic juniper berries. Unfortunately, these bitters were impossible to make in volume as one of the key ingredients, a hydrosol (or water distillate), was only available after the cucumber harvest and was only made in such small volumes that we couldn’t make more than a hundred cases a year. For the past four years, we’ve been trying to find a way to reproduce the bitters without the hydrosol, but we’ve never got it to work exactly right. However, one test batch did something completely unexpected. The sourness of the winter melon came forward, the berry notes became a bit more prominent and the cucumber moved into a supporting position. The result – Bittermens Winter Melon Tart Bitters – was a bright bitterly sour blend that worked beautifully with a whole range of clear spirits.