Friday, 26 April 2013

Fabulous Friday: Cocktail Hour

Surviving Cocktail Emergencies: Saved by Bitters

Aoife, Cambridge
It's been a little while since we've spoken about surviving those dreaded cocktail emergencies. Well, since then I have found a new weapon for the fight: bitters. I've long been in awe of the ability of a few drops of Angostura bitters to transform a drink. When added to a martini or a gin and tonic they add an extra level of complexity and just generally jazz it up. I was intrigued by how different bitters could affect my cocktails and so I recently expanded my collection. A delightful bottle of Spanish Bitters by Dr. Adam Elmegirab was my secret weapon in a recent cocktail emergency.


It was a sunny Thursday evening after a long day in work and a suitable cocktail was required in the garden. As both of us were too exhausted to do much more than grunt at each other I quickly realised we didn't have any energy to spare thinking of a complicated cocktail. The Husband did not have the look of someone who would appreciate being sent to the shop for cocktail ingredients. I had to work with what I had. Juicing the fruit bowl was a good start. A grapefruit, 2 oranges, a lemon and a lime were sacrificed. A squeeze of agave nectar balanced the acidity and combined with a significant splash of overproof white rum (gorgeous Wray & Nephew) it already tasted like sunshine in a glass. A few drops of Spanish bitters later and the drink was transformed from a simple rum and juice to a proper cocktail. It's hard to describe exactly what the bitters did. They seemed to make it taste more intensely of citrus, magnifying the flavours. But at the same time they rounded the flavours out adding a herbal, almost floral edge. Tasted alone they are intensely bitter and alcoholic though you can smell the citrus and herbal aromas. This recipe would work just as well with the dregs of that carton of juice at the back of the fridge.

I’ve come to realise just how important bitters are in the fight to survive cocktail emergencies. A major advantage is that a small bottle lasts a relatively long time so you are likely to be able to keep it in stock. Unlike my bottle of rum which seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate.


fruit juice
overproof white rum (you could use vodka instead)
a few drops of Spanish bitters

Combine whatever juice you have with as much rum as you need. Add a few drops of bitters and serve over ice. Feel better.

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