Tag Archives: bitters

bourbon + spiced pear cocktail | holly & flora

bourbon + spiced pear cocktail | fall cocktail favorites

This week has been a weird one. I’m slowly recovering from being sick with a virus that smacked me down on the couch for a week and a half. And my camera and my car both decided to get sick and die at the very same time. How is this fair?! Don’t we wish all of our mishaps and hiccups could be dispersed over several months’ time, but maybe having all the crap happen at once is a blessing.

I’m posting this delicious cocktail, but at the same time, I’m also on a serious cleanse: no caffeine, no sugar, no booze, no animal products. I’ve made it past week one, so I am feeling rather strong. I did take a slight deviation on Friday, when I met up with two friends at Café Max and had one of Max’s famous matcha green tea lattes, made with almond milk. My friend, Sherrie, who is coincidentally my health coach, couldn’t finish hers. With crazed eyes, I brazenly reached across the table and pulled her room-temperature latte closer to me and slurped up the last, lightly caffeinated drips. It was an enlightening moment on my caffeine dependency.

Ouch. Whatever, I balanced it all out with a round of green juice, so it’s all good.

bourbon + spiced pear cocktail | holly & flora

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palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | holly & flora

palisade peach + sage whiskey smash | my inspiring time in portland

Sometimes, you’ve gotta just shake things up and get on a plane. And fly out to Portland to a creatives meet-up, where you don’t know anyone at all. Because you’re that thirsty for change.

That’s exactly what I did last weekend, when I attended the Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. This event for creative entrepreneurs was founded by Joy of Frock Files and Melissa of LuLu the Baker. I found out about the one-day workshop via my IG friend, Bobbie Pinto, writer of the blog, Even If Nobody Reads This. I followed her link, perused the lineup of speakers, fell in love with its vibe, and signed up that very day. I didn’t even know what to expect; I’d never attended a bloggers’ conference before. I just knew that I wanted some serious inspiration, a good kick in the ass, and a renewed sense of creativity.

That’s what came my way, full-blast, and I took home even more than I ever thought I would.

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how to craft your own bitters

I am still not quite ready to write a triumphant welcome to 2014, but I will wish you all a very happy new year!  Like last year, I am still recuperating from a busy holiday season at the restaurant.  It seriously takes a good two weeks into the new year for me to even begin thinking about resolutions, but when I do, it is game-on.  And I really have some high hopes for this upcoming year!

I have been riding alongside the bitters bandwagon for a couple of years, but after a visit to a magical store in Portland this past October and bringing home several bottles of craft bitters, I have been obsessed with adding bitters to almost anything I am sipping.  I began my latest batches of cocktail bitters about a month ago, and after shaking them each day and tasting along the way, they are ready for bottling and enjoying.  While I do have my favorites {DRAM, Fee Brothers, and Bob’s}, I find that crafting my own bitters is creatively rewarding and makes a thoughtful handmade gift for the cocktail aficionado.

What exactly are bitters?  Bitters are a concentrated cocktail additive that balances a cocktail and adds a potent, aromatic, flavorful punch.  Most bitters contain some combination of herbs, spices, roots, or fruits, which are infused into a neutral base spirit, such as grain alcohol.  Many cocktails call for the use of bitters, and with the rise of the classic cocktail movement, bitters have, once again, taken center stage.

Grapefruit + Rosemary Bitters

  • 1 cup grain alcohol
  • peels from one organic grapefruit
  • 2 sprigs organic rosemary
  • simple syrup, optional

Tangerine + Spice Bitters

  • 1 cup grain alcohol
  • Peels from one organic orange or tangerine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 5 or so whole allspice
  • simple syrup, optional

Steps:

  1. Wash and peel citrus.
  2. Coarsely chop the peels.
  3. Combine all ingredients and pour into a mason jar.
  4. Cover and set in a cool, dark place, such as a cellar or a cabinet.
  5. Store for three to four weeks, shaking jar daily and tasting along the way for desired potency.  Remember that bitters are added to cocktails in small doses; they are intended to be intensely flavored.
  6. Once the flavors have incorporated and infused, line a sieve or chinois with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and strain into a jar.
  7. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into desired storage vessel.  I have found the most adorable bottles here, here, and here.
  8. Begin creating cocktails and experimenting with your bitters!  Bitters last almost indefinitely, but the flavors and aromas tend to fade after a year.

How have I incorporated my bitters?

  • Tangerine + Spice in a Negroni
  • Tangerine + Spice with hot black tea
  • Tangerine + Spice in an Old Fashioned
  • Grapefruit + Rosemary with gin, a little simple syrup, soda, lemon, on the rocks
  • Grapefruit + Rosemary in an Aperol Spritz
  • Grapefruit + Rosemary bitters in iced tea

Making bitters is almost foolproof, and the opportunities for creativity are endless.  Here are some links I came across that have some interesting twists on bitters-making:

  • A thorough breakdown on bitters-crafting, via the Kitchn
  • A uniquely made grapefruit bitters using lavender and rum, via Serious Eats
  • Grapefruit bitters using one of my favorite cocktail components, Campari, via Chow
  • Cranberry anise bitters, via Food and Wine
  • Orange ginger bitters, via Williams-Sonoma
  • Bitters inspiration and a pretty amazing “delicious apothecary” kitchen, via From Scratch Club
  • …and if you truly want to geek out, read The Drunken Botanist

Cheers to a more self-made, craftier, do-it-yourself, experimental, and daringly creative new year!  I would love to know of any links or recipes you’ve found helpful, if you’ve ever made bitters.  How do you incorporate bitters into drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic?  And, if you ever get the chance to visit The Meadow in Portland, you will never be the same.  I think this store has every variety of some of my most favorite things, all under one roof:  walls and walls of chocolate bars, fresh flowers, exotic salts, and bitters.  Oh, to open up a shop like this one!

bloody marys | the cumbersome cocktail | starting bitters

A little time has passed, since my last entry, which showcased our upcoming infused vodkas and the iced tea recipe.  I enjoyed a lovely five days, frolicking in the Sonoma and Napa wine regions of California.  That has been the only thing on my mind’s forefront the past few days…  Back to the routine and reality:  One of our newest libations, the Bacon Bloody Mary has fallen upon parched, Colorado lips and has been requested, by name, on multiple Sundays.  Mad props out to Savory Spice Shop for providing the dried spices found along the rim of this requisite Sunday concoction.  These spices are complemented by finely ground, dried herbs from my garden.

At Coohills…Bacon Bloody Mary, made with house-infused bacon vodka, garnished with cornichon,  olive, onion, bacon, and lime wedge.  Spiced and peppered rim made especially by the Savory Spice Shop in Denver, Colorado
The infusions developed quite perfectly.  To infuse vodka with bacon, it only takes about a week, in order to fully infuse the vodka with bacon intensity.  As far as infusing vodka with jalapeño peppers, it only takes a day or two; be sure to taste along the way, for different peppers vary with intensity.

The close-up of our much-talked-about Bacon Bloody Mary, the brunch cocktail of the summer!  Photographed, along the Platte River Trail, in Lower Downtown Denver… 
We are about two weeks along in our process, creating house-made bitters.  This is my first endeavor, making bitters; we started with five bottles, filled with bitter substances:  apple rinds, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seeds, and lavender seeds.  My partner-in-crime, Dave Glasscock, well-accustomed to bitters-crafting, assisted me with this arduous process.  We added Everlcear to each container, and we are waiting, as each bitter component integrates with the alcohol.  We will create a cuveé, or house-blend, that combines bits from each of the five flavors, hopefully achieving a balanced bitters blend.  This blend can then be added to Manhattans, Old Fashioned cocktails, or any drink that needs a dash of bitterness.

Our house-made bitters beginnings…apple, orange, lemon, coriander, and lavender.  Each of these bottles contains Everclear, infused with a bitter ingredient.  We’ll see what unfolds!

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