Aromatic bitters recipes can be as simple as a handful of ingredients or contain dozens depending on your desired effect. Balancing these ingredients, as with any flavour combination, is the key. Bitters Lab from Salt Lake City sent me over their take on the cocktail classic bitters [as well as their Charred Cedar & Currant and Habañero Lime] and I figured I would start my review with this one.
Smelling these bitters you get a healthy dose of cinnamon and clove, so I assumed that these flavours would dominate the mix, though I turned out to be wrong. Tasting them straight you’re first hit with some cardamom though it’s not overpowering [like in Reagan’s Orange Bitters] and it gives way to the cinnamon, clove, and I believe allspice. If there’s any citrus in the mix I can’t quite pull it out though I do get some ginger tingle and there is an underlying hint of berries, not super sweet like strawberry, more like a more dull blueberry or goji berry [though I highly doubt it’s the former.] As far as bitterness is concerned, I give these a four out of five, not so bitter it hits the tongue right away but it definitely leaves an impression.
Bitters Lab Aromatic Bitters are an excellent choice for someone who thinks Angostura packs a little too much punch or is too herbal, as these are more spice forward with the exception of the cardamom. With these you also run less risk of perhaps ruining a drink due to a heavy splash or drip of them since they’re so smooth and balanced. Not only would these play very well in classics like Old Fashioned’s and Manhattan’s, but I can see these adding some nice spice notes to a gin and tonic or a hint of additional nuance in a vodka martini if you’ve got some weak vermouth.
These will definitely be in regular rotation in my Old Fashioned’s. Cheers and keep your eyes peeled for my review of Bitters Lab’s other flavours in the coming weeks.