Zulu Bitters – Bitters with Brazilian Heart and Soul

Zulu Bitters

Two years ago was the first time I tried the Zulu aromatic bitters made by Laèrcio Zulu, bartender and mixologist from Brazil. I was always so fascinated by all the things he did, especially with all the fruits, roots, tinctures etc he did experiment with and he did experiment a lot!

Brazil is a country that really has an abundance of interesting fruits, roots and herbs, a lot I have never even heard about much less tried.

Zulu worked in São Paulo as a bartender for six years and one of the bars where he worked at was the Noh Bar, developing their cocktails and learnt to use such techniques as carbonization, aging and smoking. He also won the best bartender in Brazil in 2014 in the Diageo World Class, at the time working at La Maison Est Tombée.

He is now working with cocktail consultation through his brand Custom Cocktails – Bar Marketing, throughout Brazil and also making his bitters – Zulu Bitters.

Zulu is a master in making amazing cocktails, very often with his own exotic house made ingredients. The bitters I tried back then, this was 2013, was his first aromatic bitters and which have developed unto what I now have in hand along with a 5 year commemorative bitters, a barrel aged and an orange bitters.

A lot have happened since then!

Here he tells his his own story:

Zulu

The first Brazilian bitter brand with Brazilian heart and soul took it`s first steps in September 2010, that`s when the Zulu Bitter brand was born and developed along with the career of its creator; Zulu Bartender. So, lets talk about this guy and his amazing journey.

Laércio Zulu, mixologist, was born in the state of Bahia (Brazil) and has been living in Sao Paulo now for 6 years. His work thrives on the values and appreciation for Brazilian ingredients, a reflection of his constant trips inside Brazil’s vast territory seeking for new flavors and sensations. This gives Zulu great knowledge about some ingredients that are unusual for the general public, but very common for the regular man in a small towns around his country.

Thinking about #valoresnacionais (national values), Zulu chases not only unusual ingredients, but also different ways to produce his cocktails, from using ants from the Amazon rainforest to shake cocktails in capoeira rhythm. Every detail designed to give classic cocktails a Brazilian twist.

He says: “My biggest goal is to show the real Brazilian flavors, not only by giving another direction for the use of tropical ingredients, that are, of course, very common in Brazil, but also going way further than that.”

This crazy guy got out of his small town in Bahia to be a bartender in Sao Paulo in 2009, taking American-style bartenders classes in schools like Bertones Bartenders and Flair Brazil, both already extinct, and started working in that same year.

From this point on, he got more and more passionate for mixology and immersed himself on self-learning and reading about it in every book or piece of information he could put his hand on. In the next year, things started getting bitter (LOL).

Zulu 2

Before even begin his research of national ingredients, he felt the need to understand more about the history of mixology, how it was developed and how to produce ingredients from scratch.

He dived into classic mixology books, such as Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology”, Tony Abou-Ganim’s “The Modern Mixology; David Wondrich’s “Imbibe”, Dale Degroff’s “The Essential Cocktails” and, more important, the very first cocktails guide: Jerry Thomas’ “The Bartender’s Guide” 1862.

All these readings helped Zulu to make sense not only how the consumer behavior changed through the years and how each region had its characteristics for consumption of mixed drinks. Most of all, he made sense of the real value of mixology and became fascinated with evolution of the techniques and how the mixed drinks took a very interesting place in society.

That’s when the so acclaimed seasoning (Bitters) steps in.

During the beggining of mixology, to talk about “bitters” was to talk about a “bartender’s secret”. It was the “special touch” for cocktails, responsible for bartender’s authenticity and personality in each cocktail. This concept sounded very well with Zulu and the idea of creating and producing his own bitters was born.

In the following article, Zulu explains his process:

For the technical side of production, I started producing a series of known recipes to understand how the infusions of different ingredients worked. These recipes are still very famous, like Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters, Boker’s Bitters and Gaz Regan Orange Bitters. I did this for innumerous times to get sense of the balance of the ingredients.

For each sample of the first batches (back in 2011), I always shared with professional bartenders who had my respect and admiration like Marcio Silva, Marcelo Vasconcelos, Marcelo Serrano, James Guimarães and Talita Simões to have an orientation, mostly because, until then, I had not tried many different bitter’s brands. The positive feedbacks were a great motivation.

After that, I started to buy several bitters online, because, in Brazil, Angostura Bitters was the only brand you could find. So, everytime I could find a different one I restlessly tried it and ran to my kitchen to produce new recipes for my bitters.

By 2012, I gave up on any imported ingredients, focusing just on local ingredients.

Zulu bitters collage

During my experiences, I divided three groups of ingredients to get the recipe I believed to be the face of Brazilian spice: As I tried commercial bitters with amazing textures, I added Brazil Nuts to the body of ingredients of Zulu Bitters. That gives the viscosity and shine I wanted in the mixture.

For aromatic complexity, cinnamon, guarana seeds and amburana seeds stand out. For color, jurema preta and cashew were up to the task. I believe that these three pillars are the main factors to say that Zulu Bitters does have Brazilian heart and soul… because to explain the “Axe” and the “ginga” that goes inside that little bottle, one have to know Brazil.”

That`s a great story isn´t it? I had to ask Zulu what Axe and ginga means and a little about his use of ants in cocktails because I find that very interesting (especially after I first tried amazing foraged cocktails made by Marcello Biancaniello with ants beer in them) and he explains it like this;

“I used Amazon ants in a cocktail during a presentation at the World Class 2014 Finals, in London. My intention was to combine the citric touch of the ants with my recipe of Gold Label Reserve Whisky, umbu reduction (Umbu is tropical fruit from Bahia) Abatetuda molass (an Amazonic island) and Zulu Aromatic Bitters.

Axe represents energy, strength. The energy giving and receiving. It is directly connected with the lifestyle of Brazilian people who believes in spirituality from african religions. Ginga is a lifestyle, its the Brazilian “swag”. Its also the movement that preceeds the capoeira game. Very related with people from Bahia”

So on my table here I now have four of his bitters, the aromatic, the barrel aged, 5 year commemorative and orange bitters, i`m gonna try to describe their flavors:

Aromatic:

Zulu Bitters aromatic

Very much what the name says – aromatic! there´s a lot of roots flavors and what I´d call “dark spices” but the color is light brown, it´s earhty, aromatic and at the same time brilliant and lively. It has notes of roast cocoa, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, cinnamon, banana and dried spices.

A little bit bitter yes but not too much and well balanced, I  don`t feel any specific spice taking over.

I can also imagine these amazing bitters in cooking…not just cocktail making! some of these aromatics on meat before grilling…

Barrel aged:

Zulu bitters Barrel aged

Woody and spicy, but definetily woody, well “barrel aged” right? but there could be other woods and roots in it as well, interesting flavor and very aromatic, very nice bitters, it has some kinda coffee and raw cocoa notes too, at least to me. The color is light brown.

Orange:

Zulu Bitters orange

Brilliant! with a tingling on the tongue! very strong flavor of not only orange peel but theres a lot going on in this little bottle. Mainly composed of Bahia orange peel, guarana seeds, cumin and balsam bark but there´s more than that. The color is dark orange bordering to brown and there´s hints of wood and roots.

It´s very tasty bitters. Perfect for lighter cocktails and would be great in some desserts as well and with grilled seafood.

These bitters aromatics are intense!

5 Year Commemorative:

Zulu Bitters 5

Here´s astringency and very herbal flavor, my guess is that there´s some mimosa or chamomille in it. These bitters are aromatic and spicy and very very herbal, also the color, it´s light greenish-yellow.

I also have to mention his first aromatic bitters, they have a totally different flavor than the aromatics of today, it´s a different kind of woody flavor in them and they are still tasty after 2 years.

I must say that these bitters are all amazing and some of the best i`ve tried so far! he sure knows what he is doing….

Here´s a super cool cocktail from Zulu:

Boca de Lobo

Boca de Lobo collage

50 ml Cachaça Leblon
20 ml homemade Castanha-do-pará cordial (Brazil nut cordial)
15 ml lime juice
15 ml Catuaba (a Brazilian bark)
4 dash Zulu Orange Bitters

Shaken together and served in a tiki mug with crushed ice.

I haven`t tried it yet…because I don`t have the Brazil nut cordial or catuaba beverage, which is a drink made from extracts of a plant found in the Amazon forest which also is an aphrodisiac and a famous one too, and it`s sold in bark form, as tea or beverage.

And how do you make a Brazil nut cordial? (here´s for going out and google again… :-)) but the recipe can also be seen as inspiration for using these bitters and the bark can maybe be substituted with something else or be omitted if you cannot find it.

Brazil nut cordial can maybe be switched for a homemade Brazil nut orgeat instead? it would totally change the flavor but it´s easy to make and Brazil nuts are usually available and I believe it would still be a good drink. Just don´t forget to change the ratios too!

I`d maybe do 2 oz of cachaca, 0.5 oz Brazil nut orgeat, 0.5 oz lime juice, 2 dash Zulu orange bitters and instead of the catuaba bark tincture, 2 dashes of the barrel aged bitters.

So where can people get these bitters from? because they cannot also be substituted…and frankly I have never tried any other bitters that are anywhere close to the flavors of these and naturally so since these contains local Brazilian ingredients…

For now it´s possible to buy them online (in smaller amounts) on this website – the website is in Portugese but can easily be translated with any of the online translation pages 🙂 not sure if the online payment system works outside of Brazil but here´s the e-mail adress for inquiries: zuluheadbartender@gmail.com and here is his Facebook page.

And with these interesting and flavorful bitters I had to make a cocktail or two of my own to try them out:

Banana Daiquiri

Grilled Banana Daiquiri 2

2 oz aged Cachaca

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz banana syrup (made with grilled banana heated up with and then cooled in dark sugarcane syrup (you can sub with Giffard Banane de Brézil but check ratios if you do)

4 dashes Zulu orange bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Turns out rich and flavorful….

Zulu Coconaut

Zulu Coconaut 2

This is a classic Coconaut with the addition of  Zulu Aromatic Bitters.

2 oz Cream Of Coconut (Real or Lopez)

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz  Jamaican dark rum

4 dashes Zulu Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coconut vessel or glass

with crushed ice.

Garnish with tropical orchid

Very very tasty!

Zulu Bitters aromatic new and old2

The old and the new aromatic bitters.

Seehuusens Coffee and Chocolate Bitters

Seehusens Bitters bottle

Seehuusens Coffee and Chocolate bitters is made by a Swedish bartender, Daniel Seehuusen. They are new on the market in Sweden (for now) and I must say, these bitters are very good!

Here is his story:

Taste has always been something that has interested me, and when I received Saturday candy as a child I always thought it was very interesting to first take a red candy, then a yellow and finally take one red and one yellow to see if it got better together.

I got interested in cooking early, something that today is still a great passion and usually is what I do to unwind and relax. After high school I knew I wanted to work in a restaurant, but I was unsure if it was in the kitchen I wanted to be or in the bar, but as an 18 year old it was easy to pull up to the bar’s magical world. I joined an intensive training and worked a few months.

But I realized quite quickly that my education didn`t really deliver what it promised so I decided to take the other road into the bar, from the bottom and up. I worked a few years as a dishwasher and barback and began after a while to run the bar again.

Quickly I realized the beauty of working in front of the guest and to get feedback immediately. Cooking remained a hobby.

I have for many years macerated ingredients in spirits to to use in cocktails so making bitters turned out quite natural. I had it as pretty relaxed projects for quite a few years but for 1½ years ago I decided to make it more seriously, I started to weigh and measure, keeping records and I became interested in what alcohol proof worked best for each individual ingredient.

I began to think it was funnier to make new bitters than to use up my old. The problem that arose with too many bitters was simply solved by giving them away to friends and acquaintances.

Last summer I broke two fingers in a bicycle accident, and I got a quite a long sick leave but after a while I started “climbing the walls” and that`s when I decided to start my own business. Said and done, I started Seehuusen Spirits AB and sent samples to Systembolaget (The Swedish spirits retail shop, alcohol is state owned in Sweden) and won their request for a new cocktail bitters.

Part of the reason I began making bitters was because I felt that many of the available bitters on the market has a chemical taste, I simply doesn`t think everything out there tastes authentic and natural. And therefore it has been very important for me to use natural ingredients and not compromising on quality. The ingredients in Seehuusen’s Bitters are of course a secret, but the three main ingredients are coffee, chocolate and cocoa.

I have been extra careful and have only selected products that are produced in a sustainable and responsible manner and of course of really high quality. My goal is that Seehuusen’s Bitters Coffee & Chocolate should be entirely organic in 2016.

I have also chosen the bottle with care and the dark purple glass lets through very little light. As you probably already know, light break down flavors and reduce sustainability and so I picked this dark purple glass to be able to guarantee the highest quality and longest possible shelf life.

My plan with Seehuusen Spirit is to work as much as possible with the launch of the “Coffee & Chocolate”at Systembolaget, and in the fall / winter there will be new flavors that will only be sold to restaurants.

Seehuusen’s Bitters Coffee & Chocolate will be in the normal range in 70 Systembolaget shops. It is 200 ml, 35% and the price is 149 SEK. Systembolaget’s part number: 450 – http://www.systembolaget.se/dryck/sprit/seehuusens-bitters-45004

So, I tried the bitters in two drinks, one recipe created by Daniel and then a “bitterized” Shrunken Skull – since there has already been published classic and modern cocktails on the bitters website, someone needs to try them in a tiki drink too right? well somebody gotta do it….seems that somebody is me… 🙂

But before I present the drinks, let me say what I think of the bitters:

First the bottle, it is a very nice looking one with a beautiful label in dark purple and gold to match the dark purple bottle and even the seal is beautiful. But it´s the inside that counts right? so first the nose, you get a whiff of coffee at first followed by warm cocoa, and the final impression is that it´s a yummy balanced smell of both cocoa and coffee.

Tasting a few drops of it reveals more of the coffee-cocoa flavor with a slight bitterness but it´s not more bitter than say Angostura, you can use this in larger quantities too if you want to make cocktails in the style of Trinidad Sour. But how much flavor a dash or two gives different cocktails is something to experiment with.

Here´s the two drinks:

Micedymac Flip (recipe Daniel Seehuusen)

Mickedymac collage

4 cl ( about 1.5 oz) Venezuelan rum and 2 cl ( about 0.75 oz) Trinidad rum

3 barspoons maple syrup

3 dash Seehusens  bitters coffee and chocolate

1 egg

Dry shake and then shake with ice, strain into a glass, dust a little cocoa on top, garnish with wrapped around vanilla beans.

This drink did really let the rum come forward….soft like velvet and somewhat “cool” for a lack of better word, and not too sweet! the cinnamon on top added that extra spice…

Very nice!

Shrunken Skull with a twist!

Shrunken Skull

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz grenadine

1 oz gold Puero Rican rum (instead, I used Denizen Rum Merchant`s Reserve)

1 oz demerara rum

Several good dashes of Seehuusen`s Coffee and Chocolate Bitters

Shake vigoriously with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a tiki mug.

As of recipe from the 1950s………it`s believed that the Shrunken Skull is a drink that was inspired by Don the Beachcomber’s Skull & Bones. As far as I know there´s only two tiki bars in the world still serving Donn Beach original Skull and Bones – Mai Kai and Tiki Ti.

The Seehuusens coffe and chocolate bitters added a rounded yummy touch to the drink! I submitted this one also for the Shrunken Skull Challenge on Instagram.

So, if you happen to live in Sweden (for now at least), give these bitters a try….you won`t be disappointed!

Seehusens Bitters seal

Here is the bitters webpage, Seehuusens Spirits.

Boy Drinks World Serrano Cocktail Spice is coming to Tiki Oasis!

serrano cocktail spice 2

Boy Drinks World Serrano Cocktail Spice is one of my favorites and I first tried it at the Tales in 2013, and brought a bottle back with me to experiment with. A few drops of it can change a cocktail entirely adding a lively vibrant kick and I love it, especially in cocktails with citrus juices like lime and grapefruit and it’s fantastic in tequila and rum drinks for example.

You can make really hot drinks with it if you want….or just add a few drops to add that vibrant kick!

Now I hear that Ram Udwin of Boy Drinks World, the maker of this wonderful cocktail spice and also other cool bitters are coming to the Tiki Oasis next weekend in San Diego to showcase the cocktail spice and do a symposium on bitters in tiki drinks called ” The Bitter Side of Tiki ” which I will definitely attend. If you’ re going to Tiki Oasis don’t miss this!

Also, you should check out this page – the Indiegogo campaign for the Serrano Cocktail Spice, it ships worldwide.

And if you don’t know or didn’t read my last post – Tiki Oasis is a huge tiki festival in San Diego, California showcasing everything tiki, Hawaiian shirts and booze…

to14_640x80

Bad Dog Bar Craft Cocktail Bitters

I love cocktail bitters! these little drops that can change a cocktail and take it to a different level, the salt and pepper of the drink!

I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel from Bad Dog Bar Craft at this year´s Tales and he handed me two bottles of bitters to try out – the “Fire and Damnation” and “Sarsaparilla Dry”. The first name tells us there´s some heat in it…

Bad Dog Bar Craft are located in Austin, Texas and makes small batch handcrafted cocktail bitters.

Fire and Damnation

This bitter is the Bad Dog`s take on a historical recipe found in “The Gentlemen’s Companion” by Charles Baker Jr in 1939.

It contains habanero extract, black tea, subtle smoke, green vegetal pepper and molasses.

I was plesantly surprised though at the fresh habanero taste….and then you get hit by smoke…

Anyone who eats habanero and it`s close cousin scotch bonnet knows these chilies does have a very fresh fruitiness that is almost intoxicating and very addictive…i just love that flavor.

Habanero is a very hot chile and these bitters are hot, here´s enough with one drop or two and it adds a new dimension to classical drinks and of course goes just perfect with tequila.

Sarsaparilla Dry

This one is woody and “rooty” or – old fashioned root beer flavor but bitter and dry. Flavor components in it are root beer, herbal tannins and sarsaparilla.

Suggested Use: Work beautifully in stirred drinks and pairs well with sweet Italian vermouth, armagnac, whiskey, gin, dark rum.

Volcanic Daiquiri

2 oz white rum ( i would recommend Plantation 3 Stars or Denizen rum)

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

2 dash Fire and Damnation bitters

The daiquiri is as you know if you read this blog one of my absolute favorite cocktails and i have lost count on how many variations i`ve made and this is one more – with a hot bite!

The hint of habanero in this cocktail…so goood…

Blood, Sand and Fire

1.25 oz Tequila reposado
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Orange Juice
1 dash Fire and Damnation bitters

Shake together ina shaker with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and add a float of tequila at the top.

Oh how i love the Blood and Sand cocktail…and this spicy version takes it to another level!

Spiced Winchester

1 oz Haymen’s Old Tom gin
1 oz Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength gin
1 oz Tanqueray dry gin
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz grapefruit juice
¾ oz St. Germain
½ oz grenadine
¼ oz ginger syrup
1 healthy dash Sarsaparilla Dry bitters
Shake with ice and strain in to a crushed-ice filled Tiki mug.

The Winchester is a tiki drink with 3 different gins and was created by Brian Miller and named after Angus Winchester.

The only change in the recipe is that the heavy dose of angostura bitters is replaced with sarsaparilla bitters.

You can get more info on Bad Dog Bar Craft and where to find the bitters here.

CURACAO BITTERS

I love to play with bitters, the salt and pepper of a cocktail. It´s also something very intriguing with bitters bottles…i`m sure all bitter nerds know what i mean.

The Curacao bitters are made by the Masters of Malt. The flavor is intense bright orange/spicy. It`s a quite down to earth burnt orange flavor, that is crisp and fresh. The bottle has a dropper for exact measuring which is a very good thing.

They are made using only two ingredients; the spirit (High-proof Dark Rum) and Curacao Orange Peel. There´s no additional flavourings, colourings or bittering agents added.

I first gonna try them in a cocktail called “Sweet Gentleman” created by Gabriel Bessone, bartender at Warhol Sweet Point, Argentina. He also had his drink featured in the Barforum magazine in Barcelona.

Ii´ts a bit changed since 2 dashes of the curacao bitters are added, the original recipe doesn´t contain any bitters. I also had to switch Jack Daniel´s for bourbon which i think is the closest even though JD is through it´s maple charcoal filtering process not referred to as a bourbon but rather as Tennessee whiskey.

When it comes to the garnish it´s supposed to have a clove studded orange slice in the glass and fresh cherries but unf i didn´t have any orange at home ( i thought i had it…and it was too late for shoppping) and nice fresh cherries can´t be found this time of the year, those i have seen were all very bad. So i had to use those red ones i don´t like since they´re chemical disasters.

Instead of an orange slice i added some mint and rimmed the glass, but anyway, here´s the drink:

SWEET GENTLEMAN


1.5 ozl Jack Daniels

0.5 oz Cointreau

2 oz apple juice Baggio

0.5 oz Cherry syrup

Dash of lemon juice

2 dashes Curacao bitters

Shaken and served in old-fashioned glass.

Garnish: orange slice, 4 cloves, 5 cherries.

This is a nice drink. What i`ve found out is that 2 dashes of the curacao bitters is a bit too little, so try 3-4 dashes instead. It depends on what you mix with of course, but with the spicy whiskey or bourbon in this drink i think 3-4 dashes is better.

And now on to a twist of this drink i made using pineapple juice and Navan vanilla liqueur:

NAUGHTY GENTLEMAN


2 oz Rye

0.25 oz Navan

1 oz Pineapple Juice

0.5 oz lemon juice

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

2-3 dashes Master of Malt Curacao bitters

Garnish: orange slice with cloves, a pineapple chunk, cherry

Shake and strain into a double old fashioned glass with cracked ice.

Put cloves in the orange slice, cut out a pineapple chunk and drop that plus a cherry or two in the glass.

I think the curacao bitters are perfect in this drink, it´s no flavor contrast but the bitters adds some depth.

And finally…since it´s curacao bitters i`m dealing with i wanna try them in a Mai Tai twist as well, can´t keep my hands off that rum…

LADY FROM CURACAO


1 oz Smith & Cross

1 oz Coruba dark

0.5 oz. dark orgeat (made with dark sugar)

0.5 oz. orange curacao

3 dashes Master of Malt Curacao bitters

0.25 oz. sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne)

1 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and spent lime shell and garnish with fresh mint, a cherry and the spent lime shell.

Tastes like a Mai Tai with a pinch of something you cannot put your fingers on at what it is…

You can get the Curacao and other bitters as well as spirits at the Masters of Malt, they ship worldwide.

MOZART CHOCOLATE BITTERS – Concentrated Chocolate

The scent of fine raw dark chocolate is irresistible…it can fill a room..

So here we go – the next bitters up are the much talked about Mozart Chocolate Bitters made by Mozart Distillerie GmbH – also mentioned in the posts by Chuck both on his own blog Gumbopages/Looka and the Tales blog.

I heard whispers about them during the Tales after the “Emperor`s New Bitters” session which i for some unknown and totally out-of-this-world-weird reason managed to miss…what the hell did i do that day??? i have no clue but one thing i know is that after that bitters session they were the talk of the Tales so to speak.

I attended the Reematch Beeyatch cocktail competiton at Cure on the monday after Tales and there in the courtyard when we sat and sipped on our drinks all of a sudden one of my friends burst out – there it is!! can you feel it? it´s the chocolate bitters! someone has opened a bottle in here!

And yes indeed i felt it…like a whiff of sweet perfume the fragrance found it´s way around the whole courtyard…and like spies we eyed the crowd to try to see where it came from and then i saw the guy who had the magic bottle. We got samples on the back of our hands and we just sat there and kept sniffing on our hands – and we were not the only ones being hypnotized by this magic chocolate fragrance.

Someone said he would start using this as perfume and a discussion broke out about how this as perfume would make you totally irresistible…i don´t think New Orleans have ever had sexier bitters in town.

I needed to try this out in cocktails…and as perfume? hell yeah!

I`ve had the Mozart Dry chocolate spirit for quite some time now and i love it and have found it incredibly useful and it has gained a space in my home bar that is permanent. These bitters has the same fragrance but here is a delightful bitterness and fragrance of dark raw sexy chocolate – all concentrated in a little cute round bottle.

I did an interesting little experiment, i took the bottle of Mozart Dry Chocolate spirit and the bitters bottle and opened both, sniffed the fragrance and discoverd that they do not smell exactly the same, the chocolate spirit has a faint dry and very fine scent of dark chocolate while the bitters has a much stronger and more rounded and sweeter fragrance.

Then i added some of each on the back of my hands and sniffed on them and the chocolate spirit leaves a very discreet fine chocolate scent while the bitters leaves that stronger more full bodied, spicier and sweeter fragrance. yet they both has the same basic chocolate scent.

I took a sip from the chocolate spirit bottle, it´s a slight burn before the full awesomeness of fine chocolate fills your palate and a very careful sip from the bitters bottle gave at first a very strong burn which when mellowed out left a very warm full aroma of dark cocoa and sweet vanilla.

The Mozart chocolate bitters are made with dark raw and bitter cocoa nibs as the bitter ingredient with vanilla, nutmeg and clove, macerated in the dry chocolate spirit. it`s a delightful product!

So now i finally sit here with that dark brown round little bottle and will mix up something…right now i love my “job”!

I wanted something simple where the bitters can shine through as well as the base spirit so decided to mix up a daiquiri to start with.

KINGSTON DAIQUIRI


1 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum

0.5 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne)

2-3 dashes Mozart Chocolate Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a muscovado sugar rim or an orange peel.

2 dashes of the chocolate bitters was just perfect to add a subtle chocolaty touch to the flavorful Jamaican rum. Just to test it i added a third dash and stirred. The dark chocolate flavor became more upfront and i can´t really make up my mind which one i like the most…all i can say is that this daiquiri went down way too easily.

The next is a twist of a twist (Bitter Mai Tai) of my favorite drink (Mai Tai)

BITTER CHOCOLATE MAI TAI


1½ oz Campari

¾ oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1 oz lime juice (save the spent lime shell to go in the shaker)

¾ oz orgeat

½ oz orange Curaçao

3 dashes Mozart Chocolate bitters

Shake and strain into a double old fashioned glass and sink the spent lime shell into the drink. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and stick a straw near it.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm….it´s good, very good.

I hope to see Mozart Chocolate bitters sold worldwide. In Europe you can find it here.

MIRACLE MILE BITTERS

During Tales there´s always some bitters going around and i now have  five new bitters to play with and first out are 2 bitters from Miracle Miles – Chili-Chocolate and Yuzu.

Miracle Miles bitters are locally made artisanal bitters that started just over a year and a half ago. Louis Anderman – the maker of these bitters became friends with Joe Keeper from Barkeeper (an awesome barware shop n LA) and would always bring him some of his homemade experiments, bitters, Nocino, etc.

In December ’09 he did the Chocolate/Chili bitters, and Joe flipped over them and begged  for some. Louis tweaked the recipe a bit for the next batch and gave some to Joe, then after refilling his bottle for the second time in about 3 weeks he said, “Hey, why don’t you start selling these here?”

Then more and more bars started picking them up, and all of a sudden Louis was getting so much other momentum (e.g., interest from distributors) that he realized he was reaching a point where he had to go pro, or go home.

The varieties Louis currently makes are: Chocolate/Chili Bitters,
Gingerbread Bitters, Castilian Bitters, Sour Cherry Bitters, Yuzu Bitters, Forbidden Bitters and finally Orange Bitters.

That`s a bunch! and i don`t think they are out for purchase yet so i`m very happy i have got 2 of them.

CHILI-CHOCOLATE BITTERS

The chili-chocolate is made with fine Vahlrona chocolates and a mix of chilis.

In the nose you feel an exquisite and fine chocolate smell and when you taste it it´s there together with ginger, allspice and nutmeg, sweetened with molasses and maple syrup – with a slight chili bite.

The chocolate-chili bitters are perfect for dark rum drinks as well as bourbon, rye, tequila and well – any dark spirits really – anything that goes with well chocolate.

People also use them on ice-cream and coffee..mmm – i´m gonna try them with my blend of Community Coffee Nola blend with chickory and Pecan-Praline…oh my..

I stumbled upon a drink when i was sitting and reading an article about whiskey cocktails in Hawaii. Since ii like both cocktails, whiskey and Hawaii they had my attention.

The drink i was reading about – The Whiskey Thatcher – really looked interesting to me and looked like something where the chili-chocolate bitters would add a nice spicy touch. (btw the Whiskey Thatcher is a variation of a gin drink named after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher- but don´t mix things up now…i`m not promoting Thatcher…and this blog is totally politics-free – i`m promoting booze!)

The Whiskey Thatcher was created by Dave Newman, bar manager of Nobu, Honolulu, Hawaii who was wondering if the Thatcher would work with whiskey which apparently it did.

Today people want spirits with more character – and i see whiskey coming back and also other flavorful, handcrafted spirits like rum, tequila and mezcal. Even vodka producers are going in that direction creating small batch vodkas with flavor – one example is Karlsson´s which contains 12 different potatoes.

The Whiskey Thatcher blends citrus and sweet, herbal and bitter with the depth and roundness of the whiskey. And besides, anything that contains campari is worth trying i think.

So here we go – the Whiskey Thatcher with dashes of chili-chocolate bitters!

WHISKEY THATCHER


0.5 oz Campari

2-3 mint leaves

A strip of lemon peel

1 tsp fine sugar. (i used Oxfam`s raw sugar)

1. 75 oz Bourbon

Hibiscus syrup ( a splash)

Bourbon ( a splash)

Top with dashes of Miracle Mile Chili-Chocolate bitters

Muddle a slice of lemon peel, two or three mint leaves, 1/2 ounce Campari and 1 teaspoon of fine sugar in a mixing glass.

Add 1. 75 oz bourbon, and a splash of hibiscus syrup and fresh juice from half a lime.

Shake with ice.

Put a splash of pernod and a splash of bourbon (the recipe calls for Wild Turkey but i had Maker`s Mark on hand) in the bottom of another (slightly preheated) lowball glass, light it on fire and burn off the whiskey and pernod. And fresh ice; and strain the drink from the first glass into the prepared glass and stir.

Top off with dashes of the chili-chocolate bitters. (I added a generous amount of dashes..)

Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and if you feel like it a lemon peel as well. (The garnish is not in the original recipe)

Yeah…I like it…it´s spicy…

From that i moved on to mix me this next drink because Louis told me to try it –  2oz demerara rum, 1/2 oz pineapple gomme, 2-3 dashes chocolate/chili bitters, built like an old fashioned – and indeed it was good – very aromatic and deep.

YUZU BITTERS

Now after these two very satisfying cocktails with dark rums it was time to try out the Yuzu bitters.

Released only a few months ago, it’s quickly catching up to the Chocolate/Chili in popularity in LA, and KL Wines in SF sold out of a full case within five days. In addition to the yuzu, cinchona is used for the bitter plus cardamom, cinnamon, and burdock root among the other spices, and two kinds of green tea to round out the finish.

The flavor of the yuzu bitters is something in between a lemon and a tangerine, with a deep citrus flavor. Yuzu is a citrus fruit rom SE Asia and which is a cross between sour mandarine and Ichang papeda – Citrus ichangensis × C. reticulata

Here`s a link to pictures of Yuzu.

These bitters would go well with anything that goes with citrus and i`m sure also with herbal liqueurs and so therefore i decided to try a variant of the Chartreuse swizzle adding Yuzu bitters thus turning it into a Yuzu Swizzle.

YUZU SWIZZLE


1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
0.75 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Falernum (i used B.G Reynold`s Dark Falernum)
3 dahses of Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters

Add ingredients to a large glass full of crushed ice. Swizzle to mix, lavishly garnish with mint, squeeze a bit and add a few extra dashes of the bitters on top of the ice as well.

After trying this i can say that it is tasty – no doubt – but i wonder if the yuzu and the green chartreuse might play out each other a bit…i cannot detect the flavors of the yuzu so clearly. Nevertheless – tasty it is. But i needed something “cleaner” to give the yuzu bitters space to play and the flavors to shine a bit more..

So how`bout a Yuzu daiquiri?

Hell yeah! and this is what i used:

2 Havana Club 3 yo

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

3 dashes yuzu bitters

Float Coruba overproof

Now this was better in the sense of putting the yuzu flavors more forward and a Daiquiri is always a very nice cocktail – one of my favorite cocktails.

This has been fun and i`m very pleased with the Miracle Miles bitters, go try them when you get a chance.

And finally – try Yuzu bitters on oysters…