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Brewing my own bitters

What is your process for tasting these? I ask because typically bitters aren't potable on their own. It may not be a problem if you are finding them hot if you are tasting them undiluted. You are only going to be adding a dash or two to a cocktail so any heat that is present taken straight won't likely be noticeable when they are used in a cocktail. If the alcohol heat is overpowering the other flavors, then I guess that would be a problem but with higher ABV you get more flavor extraction from your botanicals so I wouldn't expect that would be a problem if you are using a neutral spirit like grain or a high proof vodka.

I've found that the best way to taste them is a couple of dashes mixed into a couple of ounces of club soda. That's how you really get a sense of what they would add to the cocktail when used in proper ratio.

Dec 09, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Brewing my own bitters

I was told by both a food preservationist and a professional bitters maker that it is important to stay above 80 proof for shelf stability. I would assume that commercial products below 80 proof use preservatives in addition to the alcohol to achieve shelf stability.

Dec 09, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Brewing my own bitters

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying regarding the proofs you are targeting. Are you suggesting using an 80 proof vodka for the 500 ml vodka and then cutting it with 250 ml water? Or are you targeting 40% alcohol for the finished bitter? You shouldn't do the former. You need the finished bitter to be a minimum 80 proof in order to remain shelf stable. Also don't think that you only have the option of using grain or vodka. I usually use mostly vodka but boost it's abv to around 110 proof by adding grain.

I also agree with davis_sq_pro that its better when you are getting started to make individual tinctures and then blend them into a finished bitter. In addition to the points that he made, I would add that different types of ingredients have differing optimal proofs for flavor extraction. 90-100 proof is fine for most herbs but for fruits and berries you probably want to boost the proof a little more and resins/gums need really high proof to maximize flavor extraction. Most importantly though, it gives you the greatest flexibility to isolate what each ingredient is adding to the bitter to adjust your recipe on the fly. I've been surprised how strong many of the bittering agents are and if I wasn't able to taste it on its own or adjust but boosting the %'s of the flavoring ingredients, I probably would have ended up with a lot of failed experiments.

Once you have a recipe nailed down, then you can try to do it in one batch as long you didn't have vary the macerating times and proofs too greatly for each component.

Dec 08, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Sazerac - Absinthe rinse substitute?

It's far from ideal but I thought given the very small quantity and strong anise flavor that it might work in a pinch. Now that I think about it more though, the challenge might be really accomplishing a rinse with something so syrupy. Maybe it wouldn't work after all.

Sep 25, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Sazerac - Absinthe rinse substitute?

I really like Becherovka and subbing it for the absinthe might make an interesting drink but it wouldn't be taste anything like a sazerac. You'd really need something with a more dominating anise flavor. Herbsaint or Pernod would be the best substitutes. Ouzo or Sambuca might work.

Sep 25, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Good takeout/fast food Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire

Top Round Roast Beef is on the corner of Olympic and La Brea.

Sep 16, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area
1

Cocktail ideas for my peppercorn syrup?

I'd try other combinations of fruit and spirits. Maybe substitute tequila and strawberries or bourbon and peaches for the watermelon and gin using the same proportions.

Sep 11, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Twentieth Century Cocktail

I haven't had the Twentieth Century but I've had and like the somewhat similar Nineteenth Century which subsitutes Rye for the Gin, Sweet Vermouth for the Lillet, and Lime Juice for the lemon juice.

Jul 23, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Tequila

Hacienda Vieja or Espolon

Jul 01, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Where Are the Joints? aka smaller, individually run neighborhood places?

Canele in Atwater Village
Red Hill in Echo Park

Jun 16, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Claud & Co Eatery (Pasadena)

I can see now why you wouldn't find it very Brazilian. Whether its tasty or not, that doesn't sound much like a traditional Moqueca. If you ever want to try an authentic version, there's a restaurant by the name of Moqueca in Oxnard which does a great one.

Jun 13, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Claud & Co Eatery (Pasadena)

Moqueca is a classic Bahian dish made with coconut milk, yuca and palm oil. Surprised that you wouldn't find it particularly Brazilian.

Jun 12, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Costco Liquor Store- what to buy?

I'm in Los Angeles. I'm not sure those are always in stock but I have found them there. I think they've had some of their Rye there too. Maybe the Double Rye? Unfortunately, I've never seen the Rendevous Rye which is by far my favorite of High West's product line.

May 23, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Costco Liquor Store- what to buy?

My costco often has good deals on scotch. I've bought Lagavulin 16, Talisker Storm and Oban 14 there for very good prices. High West makes barrel aged and bottled Manhattans and Boulevardiers which are really nice and great for taking on weekend trips. My Costco occasionally has those for cheaper than I can find them anywhere else.

I generally stay away from buying wine at Costco because they don't store it properly. I suppose its fine if you are buying everyday wines for near term consumption but I wouldn't buy anything special there.

May 22, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? [Through April 30, 2014]

I love both Custer books and "The South American Table." Sad to hear that about "La Gran Cocina Latina." I bought it last year but haven't gotten around to cooking from it.

Apr 22, 2014
bg90027 in Home Cooking

13 Best Sausages In LA

Too many hot dog places for a sausage list.

Apr 22, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

PIE - LA Dish of the Month (March 2014)

Their maple custard pie is great.

Mar 04, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Where to get my knives sharpened??

I agree that Ross does a better job. I've never been quoted a day or two return time from Ross though. It's more like 4-5 days which for me will likely mean at least a week since it's not very convenient for me to get to their location during the times that they are open on weekdays. A week is a long time to do without your best knife. Taking a knife to Ross will also generally require me to devote an hour to driving and dropping off the knife and another hour to make a round trip just to pick it up. By contrast, I'm at the farmer's market every weekend anyway. Gary does an acceptable job (at least for me) and is very convenient. It's a trade-off in quality for convenience that I'm usually willing to accept.

Feb 26, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area
1

Where to get my knives sharpened??

The two places I've gone to and would recommend are Ross' Cutlery downtown. Or Gary's Knife Sharpening service:

http://www.garysknifesharpening.com/l...

He sets up in a lot of farmers markets and will sharpen your knifes while you shop which is really convenient.

Feb 25, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Boker's Bitters?

I like them a lot in the Martinez. They were Jerry Thomas' favorite bitters so they show up frequently in his recipes. You can always substitute another aromatic bitter for them though. The Martinez is the only cocktail that I make regularly in which I use them though.

Feb 24, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Spirits local to Los Angeles

Greenbar Collective is the only LA distillery which I'm aware of to open post prohibition. They are generally well thought of but I can't personally vouch for them.

Here's their website where you can peruse their lineup:

http://www.greenbar.biz/

There might be SF based distillers whose products we get that you might not be able to find on the east coast. St. George's and Lost Spirits come to mind.

Your best bet to get something unique though might be in bitters, which would also be easy to pack. I'm a big fan of Miracle Miles Bitters, especially their Chocolate Chili Bitters. Bar Keep in the Silverlake neighborhood has a great selection and keeps open bottles for sampling.

You might also want to stop by K&L Wines if you are in Hollywood. They have a great selection, good pricing, knowledgable staff and they also buy single casks from distillers which they have bottled and are exclusive to them.

While its not LA based, I'd imagine that we have a much greater selection of tequila and agave based spirits than you would have access to on the east coast. Ramirez Liquors in Boyle Heights probably has the best tequila selection.

Hope that helps.

Feb 14, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

DineLA Winter 2014

Had dinner at Black Cat on Sunset in the Sunset Junction area of Silverlake. For those not familiar with it, it's a gastropub owned by the same people that own Village Idiot on Melrose.

For $25, I had

3 big pork sopes
Shrimp & Grits
Brownie with Buttermilk Ice Cream

All items are on their regular menu, and that combination would have been $10 more with their regular pricing. Everything was really good. I'd go back for the sopes and shrimp & grits would still be a bargain at regular pricing. They also had some pretty good cocktails at reasonable prices.

Jan 23, 2014
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

Help with my next bottle of booze

It's very hard to recommend something based on the level of information you've given. Bourbon, Rum and Tequila are the most obvious spirits that you haven't listed. If your goal was to round out your bar for entertaining, I'd suggest that you start with one of those but if it's just to make drinks for yourself and you don't like tequila or bourbon, then there might not be a need to own either.

Also, you haven't really told us what your favorite spirit and cocktail is. Do you really like Rye a lot or just more than Bourbon? What brands do you have? How much are you willing to spend on a bottle?

JMF's suggestion of buying some good cocktail books and doing some research is a good one. When I first started expanding my bar from a very basic one to a really good one, my approach was to buy something needed to make one cocktail that I knew I would really like and then look additional ways to use it over time by again buying things that would make it more versatile.

Without knowing more, I'd suggest getting a rum next. Maybe El Dorado or Mt. Gay. A simple diaquiri (rum, sugar, fresh squeezed lime juice, ice) is a great drink and easy to make. If you're more inclined to buy a liquor, I might suggest a Maraschino liquor or an orange curacao.

Jan 16, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Spin-Off: What gins to people love?

For drinks that call for a London dry, I like Berry Bros & Rudd, #3. For everything else, I like St. George's Mt. Tam.

The Old Tom gins are fun to play around with too.

Jan 09, 2014
bg90027 in Spirits

Roast Goose in Los Angeles

The number of views limit applies only to hotlinks so you can get around it by using a search engine to look for the article.

So go to google and search "goose tacos" site:latimes

and that article will be the first thing that appears and you will be able to view it even as a non-subscriber.

Dec 17, 2013
bg90027 in Los Angeles Area

What are the most unusual bitters flavors you have tried, and what recipe(s) did you use them in?

You're right I really should try those WBA Bitters. I'd blame my failure on two things: (1) I am most likely to use bitters that I bought for their unique flavor profiles or to use to make a specific drink. I bought these for neither reason, more because of generally hearing good things about them. (2) perhaps more importantly they ended up hidden behind a ton of other bottles. Out of sight and out of mind...

The one bottle I forgot to mention was a recent purchase of Bittercube's Door County Hops Bitters made with chinook and cascade hops. I experimented a little with them last night trying to mirror the flavor profile of an IPA with St. George's Mt. Tam Gin, Zirbenz Stone Pine liquor, a barspoon of Kummel and some fresh lemon juice, orange juice and grapefruit shrub and a couple of drops of the burlesque bitters (for a touch of floral). The drink wasn't bad and I think the bitters went well with those sorts of flavors. I probably had a little too much going on with so many ingredients. I might try leaving out the oj and subbing a rye or wheater bourbon for the gin and playing a little with the ratios.

Dec 11, 2013
bg90027 in Spirits

What are the most unusual bitters flavors you have tried, and what recipe(s) did you use them in?

I use the fee brothers peach bitters in making Laphroaig Projects:

http://ohgo.sh/archive/laphroaig-proj...

As the blogger here says, it doesn't sound like the ingredients would go well together but they do.

Dec 11, 2013
bg90027 in Spirits

What are the most unusual bitters flavors you have tried, and what recipe(s) did you use them in?

I love playing around with different bitters and have these plus a few more that I can't remember off the top of my head:

Angostura (probably needs no comment)
Peychauld's (for Sazeracs and Vieux Carre)
Regan Orange Bitters (milder than Angostura, good for martinis)
Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili (love these for bourbon drinks with some spice component)
Miracle Mile Castilian (works ok with tequila/mezcal, but don't use them often)
Miracle Mile Sour Cherry (don't use a lot)
Miracle Mile Gingerbread (like the idea of them but haven't used)
Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan (like the idea of them but haven't used)
Bittermens Burlesque Bitters (hibiscus flowers, sour berries with peppery spice, use in a drink with rum, falernum, grapefruit shrub & lime juice)
Bitter End Chesapeake Bay Bitters (haven't found a good use for yet)
Bitter End Curry Bitters (haven't found a good use for yet)
Bitter End Thai Bitters (have used with Mekong Thai Whiskey drinks but don't use very much)
Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters (like to use in blackstrap rum drinks in place of Angostura)
Brooklyn Bitters Black Mission Fig (like the flavor profile but haven't found a great use for)
Brooklyn Bitters Charred Pineapple (haven't tried yet, probably would work well in Pisco drinks)
Bitter Tears Ms Piggy Bacon Peppercorn (like this alot, use it in a drink with bourbon, homemade date syrup, lillet blanc and grand marnier)
Bitter Tears Curry Pumpkin Spice Mezcal Bitters (haven't tried yet)
Bitters, Old Men Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (love this one, use it in a drink with fresh squeezed blood orange juice, whiskey, and maraschino)
Bitters, Old Men Bangkok Bigtop (Thai Peanut flavor, haven't used yet)
Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Boker's Bitters (for Martinez)
Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged (haven't used)
Fee Brothers Rhubarb (works in drinks with fruit shrubs or with Pisco)
Fee Brothers Peach (works in drinks with fruit shrubs or with Pisco)
Cocktail Kingdom Coffee (new purchase, haven't used yet)
El Guapo Gumbo Bitters (new purchase, haven't used yet)

Dec 09, 2013
bg90027 in Spirits

Ideas for a pint and a half of heavy cream?

How much bourbon do you need if you need a quart of heavy cream. A cask? The recipe I linked up above only requires 1 cup of heavy creme but 1 liter of bourbon.

For me, eggnog is a holiday necessity. Even more important than a christmas tree. I made so much eggnog last year that I was still drinking it in July.

Dec 05, 2013
bg90027 in Home Cooking

Ideas for a pint and a half of heavy cream?

Dec 05, 2013
bg90027 in Home Cooking
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