Outside serious bar tender circles, the mere mention of bitters instinctively curls the lips. After all, anything called bitter must be the opposite of sweet and that can’t be a good thing…or can it? Bitters originated as a tonic to combat indigestion and sea sickness. Today, tiny quantities of bitters are mostly used in mixing cocktails. Angostura is arguably the most well known brand out there but others like Fee Brothers have greatly expanded the flavor profile of an ingredient that’s all too often shoved to the back of the liquor cabinet.
Produced in Rochester NY since the 1950’s, Fee Brothers has a long list of intriguing bitters including Peach, Grapefruit, Lemon, Old Fashioned, Orange, Mint, Whiskey Barrel Aged, Aztec Chocolate, and their new flavors of Cranberry, Cherry, Rhubarb, and Celery that will whet your creative palate sure to inspire new twists on old favorites. Joe Fee has described their line of bitters, “the spice rack behind the bar…all well and good for cocktails, but I believe that chefs should revolt and add Fee Brothers Bitters to their own culinary spice racks in the kitchen.” Über-Mixologist Gary Regan once described bitters as an ingredient instantly elevates a good cocktail to a classic. Two signature cocktails, the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, are simply defined by a dash or two of bitters, and New Orlean’s Sazerac wouldn’t even exist without it.
For a long time now, the bar has been “borrowing” ingredients from the kitchen, taking mint, oregano, sage, basil and other herbs to use in cocktails, and ripping peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, curry, and other spices right out of the poor chefs’ hands. It is now time for chefs to stand up and “borrow” from the bar, incorporating bitters in their culinary creations. Any ideas for using Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate bitters in the kitchen?
Photo courtesy of Fee Brothers