As summer sets in (not that you could tell, in Vermont), I’ve found myself with even less time for blogging than during the year. It turns out that, as a PhD student, I’m expected to write a proposal and other nonsense that I just didn’t bargain for. So I’ve been sitting in my office, wondering if sensory perception is, indeed, a constructed social operation or a passive query of an objective mental process, and not really making very many cocktails. I mean, I have been, but mostly, you know, Old Fashioneds, Tom Collins(es), Negronis (best summer cocktail ever?), and so on. And drinking a hell of a lot of wine, in preparation for a trip to the old country.
I was incredibly pleased, however, to receive my second-ever care package of bitters from my aunt and uncle, who make their home in the bibulously enviable geographic location of Portland, OR. It’s funny how, about year from the last package, the selection of bitters available has grown almost exponentially.
Unlike last time, I at least had a hint that these were on their way, as my uncle and mother had called up from the store to check my requests. The only request I remember making was for the Scrappy’s Celery Bitters, which I did indeed receive. The package of Scrappy’s that I received a year ago have been in heavy rotation, and I’ve come to rely on their complex-but-true-to-label flavors. The celery bitters are likewise intensely celery-ish, with a salty, gamy edge that I look forward to working into savory drinks (hello, Palo Cortado sherries). They are a definite step up from the Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, which to my palate seem to have more chamomile than celery (not that they don’t have their uses).
Besides the Scrappy’s Celery Bitters, I received two bottles of Bob’s Bitters. I never expected to actually get to try Bob’s Bitters; they’re made in the UK, and, while I read about them years ago on Oh Gosh!, I wasn’t aware they were available stateside. Bob’s Bitters are single-flavor bitters, much like Scrappy’s, but even more focused. I got Cardamon [sic] and Liquorice. While the Cardamon might be the most versatile (a good sub for very old-fashioned bitters, which I understand tend to be heavy on cardamom), I think I’m more excited about the Liquorice. Rather than being a clone of Peychaud’s or the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, the Bob’s Liquorice are earthy, sweet, and bitter, with a flavor that most reminds me of a strong amaro, like Santa Maria al Monte. I think it’ll be really interesting to sub these into cocktails that rely on traditionally anise-based bitters, or perhaps even as an earthier substitute for absinthe. I see them pairing well with Scotch, maybe some homemade cherry brandy. Mm.
Finally, the least traditional bitters I received were Old Man Bitters’ Isaan Another Level Bitters. On the ingredients list for these are fish sauce, kaffir lime leaf, birds’ eye chillis, and sweet soy sauce (among others). I hesitate to count them as bitters, as the most bitter ingredient, burdock root, lends not even a hint of bitterness. They have quite a spicy kick, followed by a hint of savoriness (soy and fish sauce) and a strong citrus note from the kaffir lime and yuzu. I think these might actually have been created with The Roommate in mind.
There was also a small bottle of amazingly tasty Grappa di Chardonnay in the box, but that’s a story for another night.
Anyhow, while I didn’t have the liver capacity to try drinks for all of the bitters tonight, the celery bitters were begging to be used. And so I went to my go-to base for celery: rye whiskey.
Savory Daisy (mine)
- 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey (Redemption Rye)
- 1 oz triple sec (Luxardo Triplum)
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 3 dashes celery bitters (Scrappy’s)
Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass.
Yeah, that’s about right. I’m not sure that a rye daisy has its own name, but the spiciness of Redemption (man, I love this rye) paired amazingly with the salty, gamey notes of the Scrappy’s Celery Bitters. The Wife thought that it tasted a bit like a recent Last Word (or Periodista, I suppose) variation we tried: the Final Voyage. Certainly, the herbal notes of the celery bitters had a passing resemblance to green Chartreuse, but I didn’t quite see it. I think there might be a name for a bittered whiskey daisy, but it currently escapes me. Still, a nice twist on an old formula, and worth taking for a spin.