So, in the real world, you may, at some point, be called upon to entertain clients. One way you can impress them is by providing their favorite drink for them. This may be as simple as pouring some Laphroaig into a glass, or it could be a gin and tonic, or it could be a mint julep, it could be anything.
So, you don’t need to be able to make some crazy flaming concoction, but you should know how to make a basic cocktail. I am NOT an expert, but I have been learning. I have been listening to Tim Morrisson’s Behind the Bar Show which is a podcast available on iTunes. I have learned so much from listening to that podcast, and now I will be going back through them and trying some of the recipes he lists.
One very basic point I have learned in the past, and put to use today is this:
Bitters are basically a heavily flavored liquid, that is only used in very small amounts. The measuring amounts for bitters are dashes, so it is not much (to imagine a dash, think about those soy sauce bottles with the tip that has a little hole so it shoots out of it…that’s a dash, but a bitters bottle has a much smaller hole)
I was unsure of the necessity of bitters, and I thought it would only be used in classic cocktails, nothing modern or sweet. I thought “in a manhattan, sure, in a rum and coke, no way” Boy was I wrong.
I made myself a Cuba Libre just now. A Cuba Libre is basically a rum & coke with lime. I made it this way
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 oz. Bacardi Rum
- Coca-cola to fill
- 1-2 dashes of bitters
In a drinking glass half full of ice, I squeezed the lime juice into the glass, then added the 2 oz. of rum, and 2 dashes of bitters. Fill with Coke.
I tried it without the bitters, and it was good…very good. I then added a couple of dashes of bitters, and it woke up the drink like nothing else. Let me make this clear…you do NOT taste the bitters. Adding bitters to a cocktail is like salting your food, you don’t want to taste the salt, but the salt can enhance other flavors.
I know there are a fair number of spices in Coke, so it blended well with the bitters. I have been talking about all of this with Angosturra Aromatic Bitters. There are many kinds of bitters, but I think you really only NEED one. Angosturra is a good basic bitter to have. You can graduate to Orange bitters, and Peychauds bitters if you wish. I have not tried either of those (I will be) so I cannot comment.
Mr. Martini (Tim Morrisson) from Behind the Bar Show is a HUGE advocate of orange bitters in a martini (that’s gin, because that’s what a real martini is, if you want it with vodka, it’s a vodka martini) I imagine it could also help wake up some flavors in a gin & tonic, as well as other drinks where a citrusy flavor is used. I cannot speak to this at this point, this is only my theory as of now.
I will have more udates in the future, but my simple advice is:
Go out and get a bottle of bitters…and experiment with it, you will not regret it.
P.S. I put together a marinade today (a recipe from my mom’s friend) and it is half a can of orange juice concentrate (the other half was mixed up…now I have an extra mixer…I’m thinking tequila sunrises :D), a half cup of darm rum (I just used captains spiced, but a very dark rum is advised) and I put a few dashes of bitters in as well. I’m hoping the flavor will go well with the spiced rum, and bring out the flavor. I used this on 2 pork tenderloins, I will pan-sear and roast them tomorrow.