Bitters for old-fashioneds, batch 1

As we get more settled into the new house, I’m happy to find time to revive cooking projects. Jill gave me a copy of Bitters: a Spritied History of a Classic Cure-All for my birthday, and I’m starting a quest for the perfect bitters for old-fashioneds as I like them.

Lately I’ve been moving away from the recipe for old-fashioneds that my dad taught me towards a more minimal style: no muddled fruit and less sugar, just whiskey with its flavor adjusted and balanced. To now I’ve reached a drink with five ingredients: Bulleit rye (to which my brother-in-law introduced me at Thanksgiving), Angostura bitters, two Fee Brothers bitters, orange and cherry, and rich syrup (2 parts brown sugar to 1 part water). But what I’d like to work out is a recipe for bitters of my own to replace the combination of three store-bought ones.

I’m about half-way through making the first attempt:

The technique seems to be standard: infuse the flavoring and bittering agents in the whiskey in a closed glass jar for a week, moving it around daily. Strain out the solids, saving the infused whiskey to a separate clean jar, and the solids into a saucepan. Add the water to the saucepan, bring to a simmer, and immediately remove from heat. Let cool, transfer to a jar of its own, and allow to infuse for another week (I’m at this point now). Strain out the solids, combine the two infusions, strain some additional times, and finish with the syrup.

My early impression of the infused whiskey is that it’s light on the cherries, heavy on the cloves, and maybe also heavy on the allspice and nutmeg – but we’ll see next weekend and over the next few weeks how its old-fashioneds turn out.

Written Sunday, March 18th, 2012. Back to the main page, or onward to similar pages. Trackback.