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Showing posts with label bitter truth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bitter truth. Show all posts

Monday, 10 December 2012

18 Under 30 Part 6 & 7: Bitter Truth Travellers Set /Glenfarclas 10 Year Old


Christmas shopping in Central London is probably one of the most unfulfilling experiences one can ever live through.  Granted, only an idiot would decide to leave it until the eleventh hour, but we've all been there- (if not in London, then A.N.Other major city) sharing the desperation of similarly frantic shoppers, as they flail about looking for gifts that look thoughtful, but don't smack of 'last minute'.

This year, I decided to buck my rather lackadaisical approach to present buying and popped down to Oxford Street at 10.30am today-  and imagine my surprise!  The high street was practically empty, with the likes of Debenhams, Selfridges and John Lewis (all gleaming meccas for the terrified Christmas shopper) perfectly accessible and dare I say it - enjoyable...  Once inside, I managed to get pretty much everything that was troubling me before 11.15, just in time to celebrate with a 'Six Item' breakfast and a pot of tea -  extraordinary.

Of course, there are many other things on my Christmas list that require a little more effort than simply heading to a department store and seeing what takes one's fancy.  On the liquid front, I've already placed my order for a few exciting christmas wines, some wonderful tawny port (which will be one of our forthcoming 18 Under 30 editions)  and this year's edition of Ballantine's Christmas Reserve (the last two editions have come to symbolise the flavours of Christmas in the Caskstrength office, alongside the classic Snowball cocktail and box of 'Eat Me' dates.) It seems that Christmas Reserve is a little tricky to track down in the UK this year (and also a smudge over £30) but for all you festive fans who live across Continental Europe, China, Taiwan Thailand and Mexico, your luck's in and from the sample we recently tasted, this year's batch is rather superb.

For this post however, we're focusing on things that are much easier to obtain, yet equally exciting.

The Bitter Truth are two very talented chaps based in Germany, who back in 2006 decided to revolutionise the fairly stagnant cocktail bitters market by drawing on a wealth of research into the history of these essential high strength elixirs.  After creating a big buzz amongst bartenders across the globe with their our personal favourite,  Professor Gerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters (based on a recipe used in the 1860s by the seminal US bartender of the same name), the guys went on to produce probably the ultimate collection of bitters for the aspiring home bartender -  the Traveller's Set. 

Here, five 10cl bottles of their most exciting flavours are tastefully packaged up, giving you the opportunity to experience just how different varieties of bitters can have a profound effect on the type of drink you're making.  From celery and chocolate to creole-influenced flavours, this set works with just about any spirit you can think of (the chocolate bitters will transform anything using tequila and add a wonderful aromatic note to rum cocktails) and the beauty is that it will probably last you till next Christmas - we're still using one from 18 months ago and we drink A LOT of cocktails in our office!

Our recommendation is to try spicing up your Whisky Sour or Manhattan with a dew dashes of the creole and the orange bitters -  also using a sherried Scotch whisky in place of a bourbon or rye- (yes, purists out there will say that this is called a 'Rob Roy', but purists seldom pay for a round of drinks... and when we're buying, it's called a Manhattan.)  The results are simply superb.
This is where Glenfarclas 10 year old fits in nicely.  For an extra sherried hit, the 15 year old nails the festive flavours perfectly, but you'll be paying around £37 for the privilege.


Caskstrength Festive Manhattan (ok, Rob Roy!) using Glenfarclas 10 year old and Bitter Truth Bitters

In a mixing glass, add:  50ml Glenfarclas 15 yo, 25ml sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso is an excellent choice, but for a spicier, more aromatic note seek out Punt e Mes) 3 dashes of creole bitters and 2 dashes of orange bitters)  

Add fresh ice and stir for around 20-25 seconds, until the drink is chilled and nicely diluted (but not too watery) and strain into a chilled Martini or Coupe glass.  Express a little orange zest over the glass and garnish with a sumptuous Luxardo Marischino cherry.  

The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveller's Set is available for £16.29 at The DrinkShop. Click here for more details.

Glenfarclas 10 year old is available for under £30 here and here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Bitterest Pill...is sometimes the tastiest


What a week it's been so far. Not one to remember on many counts, that's for sure.

At Caskstrengh, Bobby, my faithful companion and wonderful cat was hit by a car.
Whilst the accident wasn't fatal, it shook me to my core and made me realise just how we have a natural instinct to protect the ones we dearly love, animals included.
Time will heal him, along with love, cuddles and lots of roast chicken dinners.

I am also in need of some healing too after such a shock to the system and it's times like these that I think back to the days gone by when there was a preparation for everything. Cure-All tonics, embrocations and tinctures to rid the body of Alopecia to Varicella-Zoster (Chickenpox...alright smart-arse...try finding an ailment beginning with Z...!)


Many of you may not know that cocktail bitters, those mysteriously pungent and aromatic potions in tiny bottles actually hark back to some of the original recipes used in these slightly misleading elixirs. Angostura Bitters, one of the most famous throughout history, was formally a recipe of Dr Siegert's tonic, used by the quack to treat pain in some of his patients. Whether they worked is a mystery, but people bought into them, big time.


There were so many false claims as to healthy properties and also erroneous ingredients - some, which actually did more harm than good. These included Snake Root, a fairly common bittering agent, which can cause renal failure and the frankly hilarious, Cocaine Toothdrops (a modern day marketing execs dream, in more ways than one)


Today the bitters market is becoming big business again. Some major, yet artisianal players are making waves with their formulations, some harking back to the yesteryear, ala Dr Adam Elmegirab's Boker's Bitters and our wonderfully affable German friends - The Bitter Truth, who make a sensational range of exciting new flavours, as well as variations on traditional recipes.

We also welcome the great Master Of Malt to the bitters arena- who... being... erm... Masters Of Malt, have decided to go a step further, by producing some very specially formulated bitters, married and matured for extra depth and richness in a little cask which previously held a 38 year old Glen Grant. Their premise is that the whisky aged bitters will add a perfect compliment of spiciness and aromatic zing to whisk(e)y based cocktails, such as a Manhattan, Rob Roy, Old Fashioned or Sour.

Ever ready and eager to try some out, a small but perfectly formed bottle arrived yesterday and being that the weekend has finally arrived and my soul is in some serious need of a restorative, I put them to the test...


Master Of Malt - Cask Aged Whisky Bitters - 1st Edition. 46.2%
'Contains Fruits, spices, 8 year old bourbon, overproof dark rum and vodka, matured in a cask which previously contained a 38 year old Glen Grant'

Nose: Oh my, what a heady elixir. Huge vanilla notes take the lead, followed by cardamon, cloves, cinnamon bark, zesty orange and warming spices.

Palate: A small drop on the tongue reveals, pepper, more cloves and cardamon, rich tobacco notes, dried fruits and a hint of aromatic, like star anise or licorice root.

Finish: The cloves linger and i'm left with a tingling sensation, akin to eating a really good, aged christmas pudding and smoking a Don Ramos Epicure no. 19 (a big ring gauged Honduran cigar, perfect for festive post-prandial relaxing)

I have just used this in my first Manhattan of the evening, using this, my favourite recipe:


50ml Pikesville White Label Straight Rye Whiskey
20ml Capano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
10ml Noilly Prat dry vermouth
5ml of Maraschino liqueur

3-4 dashes of MOM Cask-Aged Whisky bitters.

Stirred over ice in a boston shaker glass and served in a chilled coupette glass, with a twist of orange zest (expressed) and a Griottine marinated cherry as a garnish.

Words can only describe how this drink lifts the senses, explores the soul and comes out triumphantly shouting 'YOU ROCK!!'

I feel lighter, the weight of the world seemingly less crushing. I know what you're thinking, 'yeah right... all this from a Manhattan and some funky bitters'. Well try it. As a combination of flavours, this drink raises my spirits. Let it do the same for you. The bitters add another dimension, call it the 'seasoning'. Hats off Master Of Malt.

I shall wrap this post up now, before I try a whisky sour, the recipe of which you can read here.

As a postscript, Bobby has started eating and drinking again, seems a little less in pain and I would like to take the opportunity to ask each and every one of you to raise whatever glass you have in your hand this evening and say a few kind words for him. I know he would appreciate it, and so would I.

Thank you.
Neil