Bitters - Part 3 - Aviation American Gin

Aviation Gin Blog

Bitters – Part 3

Bitter range


Alright if you’ve made it this far into our Bitters Blog (See part 2 and 1 here) chances are you have become the smiling owner of some spiced-up infusions (and may have even bypassed the dropper by just inverting them into soda water – I certainly do). If you are still homemade bitters free… why? Well, perhaps certain ingredients couldn’t be found or maybe you didn’t have the right tools. Did the work seem a bit too much for too few drinks that outright call for bitters? We will hopefully quell these concerns and put all the necessary elements – including more recipes – into your hands for this third edition.

Basic ingredients have been covered but sometimes certain ones won’t be found. Advancing your understanding of their functions will expand your versatility and could even lead to happy accidents.  For instance, most roots and barks may be considered to have a bitter contribution and should produce the desired effect – though, of course, not all the same flavors. I’ve even found guidance in herbal remedy books that give flavor descriptors along with their medicinal use. And with a plenitude of flavors being made including celery, grapefruit and sri racha bitters, you can always make due without, maybe, mission figs should they be (most likely) unavailable. But if you absolutely have to make that Cherry-Hazelnut Bitters with Schizandra berries here are some great sites that ship their wares.
Also keep in mind that different base spirits at different proofs can also give an array of results. Most people like to go right for grain alcohol but I’ve had great results with 101 whiskey or even an 84 proof vodka. These may take additional time to extract so give them a few more days and a few more shakes. Now if you are content to filter your bitters multiple times through cheesecloth then good on you, it isn’t really too much to ask. If your bitters making turns toward the obsessive however, or you are making larger batches, then a Buchner flask is the way to go. These can be attached to small pumps or a simple water aspirator that can send bitters through a coffee filter for just one easy pass. And I’d like to add that microplanes are essential to make this whole process exponentially easier for zesting and grating ingredients.
There are classic cocktails that couldn’t be made without bitters though it seems for the most part they held a very specific place. These days however bitters seem to have progressed from extraneous additive to integral mixing tool, with some drinks even based around them. There are even a few bartenders using Rotary Evaporators which gently break down ingredients into their basic components. In this way, flavor hints of any type may be added to drinks such as Absinthe or tobacco. Here are a few more ranging from classic to over-the-top bitters onslaught. Dig in.
Blue Moon
This drink is somewhat related to the wonderful Aviation Cocktail in that it uses a violet-flavored liqueur paired up with gin. It’s a classic and an interesting take on using red wine in a mixed drink.
What you need:
1.5 oz Aviation American Gin
1 oz Dry vermouth
1 tsp Creme Yvette
2 dashes Orange bitters
.25 oz Red wine, light in body
Glassware should be cocktail or coupe
The build:
1. Add gin, dry vermouth, Crème Yvette and orange bitters to a mixing glass.
2. Add ice and stir until chilled.
3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
4. Using a bar spoon, gently float red wine over top of the cocktail. In fact, any spoon will do just use the back side of it for gentle cascading.
The Bijou
A bit decadent in sweetness, this drink is a great example of bitters ability to cut through and balance out a cocktail with perfect, almost austere, poise.
What you need:
1 oz Aviation American Gin
1 oz Sweet vermouth
.75 oz Green Chartreuse
1 dash Orange bitters
Garnish: brandied cherry (preferably Luxardo)
Glassware should be a cocktail or coupe
The build:
1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
2. Add ice and stir well.
3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
4. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
The Sawyer
Coming out of the inventive minds at Momofuku Ko’s sister bar Ssam, this drink requires 28 dashes of bitters and should be had as the ultimate after-dinner soother. Credit must go to Don Lee
What you need:
2 oz Aviation American Gin
.5 oz Freshly pressed lime juice
.5 oz Simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water)
14 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Orange bitters (preferably equal parts Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters and Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6)
Glassware should be rocks
The build:
1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
2. Add ice and shake.
3. Strain into a chilled rocks glass.
Noticed a pattern yet? All these drinks need orange bitters which are requisite, I believe, for cocktails and deserve a place next to Angostura. I’ve included the recipe for Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 5 because it’s one of the best out there. And although it’s an earlier trial version you should get pretty close. Here’s to creative inspiration. Cheers!
– Miles Munroe, House Spirits Distiller


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