It was through a friend that i first heard about Bob`s bitters, and when i graciously received samples my joy was complete and curious as never before because these are some unusual flavors, i started to taste them. The interesting thing with these bitters is the whole concept of using one flavor in each bitter which leaves a lot of potential for cocktails. Bob first got involved in the booze trade when he started to create fresh fruit infused sake using only natural ingredients and no preservatives or coloring, blended with Junmai Ginjou Sake, thus creating Nijizaki wines.
The bitters started 3 years ago when Bob was approached by Guiliano Morandin who has been the bar manager at the Dorchester Hotel for 25 years. With the relaunch of the new bar Guiliano had the idea of the gin experience which with your gin & tonic, you could choose from a selection of bitters.
The first experiments were made with the botanicals that are used in the making of gin in mind and it started with individual ingridients creating individual flavors and from there it has developed. Bobs Bitters has become more popular with bartenders as it allows them to use their creativity in adding just the ingredients they want to add.
A good example of how well it works is the PerfectTen, a martini based around Tanqueray Ten Gin and grapefruit bitters that has been created by Guiliano. The Liquorice Bitters was created for Ago Perrone of the Connaught Bar for use in developing cocktails using the newly reformulated Galliano L’Authentico.
As i write this i get to hear about a new flavor in the process of being developed by Bob which is tangerine – made from 20 year old tangerine skins! According to Bob the skins get better over the years and these are also sundried thus having a brownish color as apposed to orange, very similar to what the Italians do with sun dried tomatoes. I also hear that the prototype for the coming bitters are very fresh, bright and crisp like the grapefruit bitters and with a sharp edge. Interesting, and those i can imagine goes well with cachaca, rum and tequila as does the grapefruit bitters. Bob did also mention heavily aged bourbon with these bitters. Right now they are tested at the Dorchester bar.
The first one of the bitters i tried was the grapefruit bitters as i`ve heard about how nice they are, and that is true, they have an incredible freshness, its like bitter fresh cut grapefruit peel. Very nice and with a laidback bitter background. The next i tried was the ginger flavor and it started quite bitter immediately followed by a natural ginger flavor. I look forward to experiment with the ginger bitters.
I like spices so i went on with the cardamom and coriander bitters, interesting flavors for bitters i think. They are both very spicy, very warm, these two will be among those i use the most i suspect. Also very interesting is the licorice bitters, this one has a very fresh aroma, immediately i got to think about pairing it with pineapple and vanilla. I`m usually not so much a fan of licorice but in very small amounts i like it. The licorice bitters have a very clean flavor and i find them intriguing.
Me who loves vanilla so much and with an aversion of those artificial vanilla flavors you see everywhere on the shelfs is not dissappointed at all with these vanilla bitters. They have a pronounced natural vanilla flavor but not overpowering, followed by a lingering warm aftertaste.
The last one of these wonderful bitters i tried was lavender. These are not surprisingly very floral – and light with a strong lavender flavor. This is definetily for Gin!
So of course i had to make a cocktail with these bitters and so i decided to mix up a cachaca drink that combines cardamom and vanilla bitters with african rooibos tea and honey. It will take time to experiment with all these bitters and find out specific cocktails paired with specific bitters but oh so fun!
ROOIBOS ICED TEA COCKTAIL
2 oz cachaca
2 oz rooibos tea
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.75 oz honey
1 tsp orgeat
dash Bob`s vanilla bitters
dash Bob´s cardamom bitters
3 lime quarters.
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out all the seeds you can and add to shaker. Save the bean for garnish. Add to shaker: cachaca, rooibos tea, bitters, lime juice, orgeat and honey (melted to liquid) Shake over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with lime quarters in the glass and the vanilla bean. The cardamom flavor mixes well with the cachaca while the vanilla flavor, honey and tea makes for a mellow background. The amount of honey and orgeat may be adjusted to your taste.
I can safely say that after trying Bob`s bitters both by themselves and in various cocktails (one was a Mai Tai with the grapefruit bitters) i give my thumbs up! When these samples are finished Bob can count me into his line of regular costumers;-)