In today’s blog, I get to do a few things. First, I’ll be telling you a story about how one of the most versatile cocktail ingredients originated. Secondly, I’ll be sharing some exciting news from Andrea Barbour, Director of Food & Beverage here at 16 Bay View. The argument could easily be made that today’s topic is very close to every craft mixologists’ heart; the use of bitters. A remarkable ingredient, they can bring specific flavors to the top, bind flavors together, change the aromatics of a cocktail, or add a missing puzzle piece. The use of bitters can take a good cocktail and make it a great cocktail.
Angostura Bitters. Arguably one of the most recognizable names in cocktails today, this legend has its origins in 1820s Venezuela, where Dr. Johann Siegert was the Surgeon General, treating stomach ailments suffered by Simon Bolivar’s army. The bitters were later exported to England, where Siegert’s son would go on to mix them with gin. This would become the classic known as “Pink Gin”, served in martini form, and using only the aforementioned ingredients. While it wasn’t the first use of bitters in a cocktail, this decision certainly helped put Angostura on the map. Angostura is just one example of thousands of bitters used today. From fruit-based to floral, craft cocktail-makers around the world are using densely-packed drops of flavor to enhance, bind, lift flavor from, and transform the cocktails they’re creating.
This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with our brilliant and accomplished Chef Andrea Barbour to discuss the bitters she recently created for us here at The Vintage Room! She has created celery, Meyer lemon, and pink peppercorn, each unique in its inspiration. The celery bitters were inspired by an early zero-proof recipe of mine, called Decompress. Crafted using pineapple, celery juice, lemon, and sea salt flakes, Decompress offers a savory flavor experience. These celery bitters will now act as an alcohol-based lifting agent for savory cocktails. The Meyer lemon bitters were necessary to our arsenal, she said, because the Meyer lemon is a seasonal fruit. These bitters will allow us to access the unique flavor of the Meyer lemon year-round. Finally, the Pink Peppercorn. Those who know Chef Andrea are familiar with her deep and profound love for Asian-themed food. She took her inspiration for these from the rich and delicious spice of pink peppercorns; bold in their subtlety.
We are constantly working to take the next step in our craft. With the addition of these delightful new additions to our cupboards, we look forward to introducing our guests to even more exciting cocktails. Below, I have provided a recipe that incorporates Angostura bitters, for your use at home. Stop by The Vintage Room to try a cocktail made with Bay View Bitters!
2.5oz Bombay London Dry Gin
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir over ice for 30-45 seconds, strain into chilled martini glass. Serve with no garnish.