Are all bitters the same? Nope, not at all. And that bottle of Angostura lurking in your fridge? It's time to give it a rest. There are real flavors out there waiting to be discovered.
I was first introduced to them at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and at that juncture- well, I knew that as chefs use spices, mixologists use bitters.
Not all bitters are the same! Far from!
S&M Bitters come in many varieties, from Sassy with flavors of wild foraged, New Jersey gathered Sassafras, Goldenrod, Peppermint and Burdock to Big Texas, woven with Tamarind, Wild Cherry Bark, Cinnamon and Tomato, these bitters speak a language not yet discovered.
The varieties are as follows. Lemongrass- for gin or vodka, Wisemen, stinging with cardamom for tea, whiskey, rum or amaro. There is the Chile, singing a song of mezcal or perhaps your glass of beer. The Wild Cherry speaks to the sultry side of the equation, spicy, dark and robust- yes, there is a burn in there. Love that!
Lime calls out to a gin and tonic as well as the Devil's calls out to the forager in all of us. Devil's Club is a powerful medicinal with roots in the Pacific Northwest.
There is the un-named Celery that is the very essence of celery. It screams out in concentrated notes of spice and wet loam.
So if your bitters shelf needs revitalizing, may I suggest that you source out S&M Bitters. In your whiskey, in your tea, in your chicken or in your dessert. There is artistry in every drop.
My second book, Whiskey Cocktails uses bitters extensively in the recipes. It only makes sense to add a cocktail here, influenced by my book.
The cocktail named the Old Gnaw is the perfect mixture of strong to sweet to spicy, to savory. It includes Irish whiskey and a hit of bourbon whiskey, simple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice. It also includes an egg white, sea salt and a few drops of grapefruit bitters.
For my "Cocktail Whisperer" twisted version of the Old Gnaw, I've included the Lemongrass bitters for a hint of the Pacific Rim instead of the grapefruit bitters.
Cocktail Whisperer's Old Gnaw
2 oz. Teeling Irish Whiskey
1 oz. Barrell Bourbon
1 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 egg white
Scant pinch of sea salt
1/4 oz. Club Soda
3 drops Lemongrass Bitters from S&M Bitters
To a cocktail shaker without ice added (YET) add the egg white and the lemon juice with a tiny pinch of sea salt
Cap and shake hard (Dry Shake) for 10 seconds or so
Fill the shaker 3/4 with ice
Add the Teeling Whiskey and the Barrell Bourbon
Cap again and shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour into coupe glasses, top with club soda and a few drops of the S&M Lemongrass Bitters