This month WE LEARNED SO MUCH! I remember the day when I used to think that Bitters were some strange and mysterious concoction that my friends would drink to cure their hangovers. I have come so far. This month at HBN Cocktail Club, we learned all about tinctures and bitters – how to create them, mix them, and ultimately try to use them in a way that would bring out the flavor of whatever cocktail we happen to be drinking. Caroline was an amazing hostess and was prepared with so much information and pre-bottled bitters, and it really made this afternoon a marvelous hit. The featured cocktail was delicious, but most importantly, the hands-on experience we had creating our own bitters was SUPER fun.
May Cocktail Club Hostess: Caroline (follow her blog, SLCFlake)
Caroline and I have one of those friendships that blossomed both online and in person. Since we are both big time foodies here in Salt Lake City, we became ‘aware’ of each other on Twitter – checking out one another’s adventures in foodland. Come to find out, we had mutual friends, and therefore – a real life friendship commenced! Fast forward a year or two later, and we both got knocked up at pretty much the same time. In fact, we both announced our pregnancy at a dinner with other foodie/online friends. The rest is sort of history. Once you are pregnant with someone, the conversation gets personal quick. Caroline is one of the most genuine, intelligent, dryly sarcastic (in the best way), people I know. She also creates amazing bakery concoctions and cocktails, and is a beauty, amazing mother, and dog-loving adventure queen on top of it all. Instagram: @caroline.slcflake
May Cocktail: Blueberry Lavender Tom Collins
2 oz Old Tom Gin
.75 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
.5 oz Lavendar Simple Syrup (recipe below)
2 Tbs Wild Blueberries
2 dashes/half dropper Lavender Bitters
2 oz Club Soda
1) Muddle the blueberries
2) Add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, muddled blueberries, and bitters to a shaker and SHAKE VIGOROUSLY (at least 10 seconds)
3) Strain into a chilled 10 oz collins glass filled with ice
4) Top with 2 oz club soda
Lavender Simple Syrup
8 oz (1 cup) water
1 cup sugar
2-3 tbs dried lavender (depending on how floral you want to make it)
Simmer, let cool, and then strain!
Tinctures // Bitters // Aromatics // Other Ideas
TINCTURES: liquid extracts made from herbs that you take orally (by mouth). They are usually extracted in alcohol, but they can also be extracted in vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar. Tinctures are easy and convenient to use.
1) choose an herb or aromatic (root, bark)
2) combine with a high proof spirit (Ever Clear, Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka, etc – get as close to 100% as possible)
3) Steep, shake, and sniff daily until desired stewing
4) Strain using a coffee filter and mesh strainer
BITTERS: traditionally an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter such that the end result is characterized by a bitter, sour, or bittersweet flavor. Numerous longstanding brands of bitters were originally developed as patent medicines, but are now sold as digestifs and cocktail flavorings
When making bitters–This phrase is as trite as it is true, the possibilities are endless. I like to work with ratios and then scale up once I have a formula I’m happy with.
With our lavender bitters I wanted lavender to be the predominant flavor so I decided at least 1/2 of the mixture would be the lavender tincture. From there, about 1/4 of the mixture should be simple syrup to sweeten and add body, leaving the remaining 1/4 for playing with bittering agents and background flavors.
For a 2oz bottle each unit or “part” would be 1/2tsp.
Once you have a formula you want to test out, try putting a few drops in the palm of your hand, run your hands together and sniff! Then put a few drops in a glass of water or sparing water and see what notes you catch. Too bitter and you’re not tasting your intending flavor? Play with the aromatic constituents! All floral/fruity/etc and no bite? Up the bittering agents! Keep in mind the potency of your aromatics and bittering agents – you will want to scale up or down to reflect their strength.
I liked using the above ratios as a baseline and found it really helpful to keep a sheet of paper nearby and keep track of every adjustment. A great benefit of playing with ratios when creating your formula is you can scale down to as little as a drop of each constituent and as long as you’re exact when adjusting up, a mixture of 1Tbs, 1oz, or 1 quart should taste the same.
Ginger Tincture: 2 tbs dried ground ginger, 8 oz 100 proof vodka, 5 days
Clove Tincture: 2 tbs dried cloves, 8 oz 100 proof vodka, 7 days
Gentian Tincture: 1 oz dried gentian root, 8 oz 100 proof vodka, 5 days
Bitter Orange Tincture: 1/4 cup dried bitter orange peel, 8 oz 100 proof vodka, 5 days
Horehound Tincture: 1 oz dried horehound, 8 oz 100 proof vodka, 7 days
OTHER IDEAS: cherry, vanilla, coffee, cacao, celery seed, coriander, anise, lemon peel, earl grey, cardamon, dandelion root, mugwort
We are holding a PHOTO CONTEST to find new HBN Cocktail Club members!
Take a photo of your favorite cocktail or beverage and post it, telling us WHY you want to be a member.
Find out more details HERE >>
Thanks to these pretty ladies for joining us this month to learn about bitters!
And this beauty for being an amazing hostess and friend.
Categories: Cocktail Club