OK, maybe it’s not quite pumpkin season yet, but it’s getting close to October, and that’s good enough for me. This cocktail is a dessert in a glass without being too cloying. Jon Gilbert and I came up with this one night in a boozy attempt to use up leftover canned pumpkin. Betraying my extreme enthusiasm for bitters, there are two kinds here – the Tiki bitters add an essential spiciness, and the orange bitters contribute a nice roundness. Experiment as you like.
1 oz pumpkin puree
1 1/2 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum (or substitute regular dark rum and double the molasses)
1/2 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy (another brandy might be nice? Try it.)
1 tsp molasses
1-2 dashes of Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
Squirt of Tiki Bitters
Shake well with ice, strain into martini glass. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon.
Photo courtesy of Jon Gilbert
PS: Any kind of pumpkin will do, but don’t use canned pumpkin pie filling, which already has sweetener and spices. It is the sort of cocktail that goes down rather easy, and an evening can slip away in a haze of spicy rummy goodness without you realizing it. Not that I have any experience in that.
Bitters are alcohol infused with various botanicals to produce a strong, well, bitter flavor. The concoctions began as patent medicine, purported to cure a wide variety of ills and complaints, but live on as cocktail flavoring.
CC Image courtesy of _gee_ on Flickr
While a few years ago, it was difficult to find any sort of cocktail bitters aside from a dusty bottle of Angostura, nowadays companies are producing bitters in countless varieties, from orange and grapefruit to habanero, lavender, chocolate – pretty much anything you can think of that might be delicious. Some of the brands I like are the German The Bitter Truth, who makes a fantastically astringent grapefruit one, and Bittermens, based in New Orleans, who do a wide range of inventive bitters, including my favorite, ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters.
There are also diehard bitters enthusiasts who’ve worked hard on recreating some once-beloved, now-extinct brands like Abbott’s and Boker’s. I can completely get behind that kind of obsessiveness.
Not generally meant to be drunk on their own, a couple of dashes of cocktail bitters often add a depth and complexity to a cocktail that pushes it from “OK” to “Heck YEAH”. If you’re messing around with drink recipes and make a drink that needs something, that ‘something’ is likely to be bitters. Start with the classic Angostura, and as you explore give some of the more exotic flavors a try.
Do you have a BarBot that uses bitters in any of its drinks? I’d love to hear about it.
If you’re interested in the history of bitters and want to find out more really cool things to do with them, even things that don’t involve cocktails (gasp), I highly recommend reading Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons.