Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reasons to be bitter

On Tuesday, we finally managed to get a table at Craigie on Main. Okay, "table" is perhaps an overstatement; we squeezed into a corner of the bar and guarded it jealously.

It's great that Craigie is doing so well, and that it was packed to the rafters on a miserable weeknight two days before Christmas when every other place in the area was dead (
Salts has closed completely for three weeks over the usually lucrative holiday period), so a little squishing wasn't a problem.

And as
former-future-astronaut Tommy set us up with cocktails, there were even fewer problems.

One of my favorite cocktail ingredients is bitters (are bitters?). In the same way a few drops of vanilla can enhance the flavor of pancakes, or a little Worcestershire sauce gives depth to a stew, a splash of bitters adds a layer of complexity to a drink, pulling the other ingredients together gracefully.

Craigie has, from what I could see, more than a half-dozen types of bitters: Angostura, natch, but also Peychaud's, Regan's orange, Fee Brothers' whiskey-barrel-aged, Angostura orange, a small vial labeled only Spiked Ango ('stura, one assumes), and a variety of bottles from

My drink, the Joie Vert, began with the violent smooshing of an apple and ended with a few delicate drops of Bittermens Ginger. It was a beautiful thing: fragrant and fresh and autumnal, with woodsy hints of sage and that final zing of peppery heat.

The next day, lovely co-worker Sarah and I went to lunch at Eastern Standard. As we finished up dessert (beignets with maple-caramel sauce) I noticed familiar bottles behind the bar: Bittermens.

Sorry, first things first:

Aaanyway, the bitters. We inhaled the bottles. The chocolate mole smelled dark and intense; the tiki had sweet spices and citrus notes. I wanted to dab some behind my ears.

I asked the bartender for more info; most importantly, where could I get them? He explained Bittermens are not yet commercially available; they still need to pass through various approvals before they can be sold.

I found
more details on the Bittermens site, including their hope that final health-inspector and FDA approval may be cleared by mid-January.

In the meantime, at least I know a couple of places that appreciate a bitter attitude.

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Blogger Justine said...

I recently read about this mentioned or advertised in the Improper Bostonian, funny to see it being written about here too!

6:52 PM  

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