Globe Bar Bitters
While walking home from the train station I came across a box on the streets of Jersey City, which was hosting a little literature orgy for a group of hospitality and culinary pieces. One of the members was The Art of the Cocktail by Ben Reed. Before I found that treasure I had already planned on making my own bitters to begin experimenting with cocktails, so I happily accepted the timely gift.
I definitely needed to use this book as a guideline, since my previous cocktail concocting went as far as “Old English Mimosas” (in forty ounce serving portions, of course). I was never much of a cocktail drinker, always preferring a good beer or wine. However, there is a mood set and an emotion felt when you let the inside of your hands and fingertips be caressed by the delicate stem of glassware. Even more so when the balance of flavors tickles your taste buds, and the alcoholic aromas shock your body into recognition, causing your pupils to dilate and your brain to titillate. Much like the warmth and comfort felt when you wrap your hands around a steamy cup of coffee or tea, and it hugs your hands right back.
Don’t let your morning cup of caffeine be just that. Don’t slam a cocktail down your gullet without some sort of recognition of your vitality.
Everclear or other strong liquor
Green cardamom pods, slightly abused and broken
Dried lavender stems and leaves
Dried licorice root
Small bit of cinnamon stick
1. Drown flavorings and spices in alcohol
2. Wait a few weeks; remove ingredients you don’t wish to be strongest in flavor
3. Strain completely
When making bitters there needs to be a bittering agent involved, naturally, and I was so damn impatient to get this project started that I used whatever I could find most quickly. All of the spices were already in my cupboard, the lavender from my garden, and the licorice root from a very convenient and budget-friendly Indian grocery store near my apartment. I was really just playing at this point, with no clue of how these ingredients would affect the final product, aside from being heavily spiked with cardamom loveliness and backed up by its seasonal entourage of the spice world.
Where my creation bloomed for three weeks:
The results: Pleasantly sweet and teasingly bitter. The licorice root is a fantastic asset to me now. Once I strained the soaked tidbits from the Everclear, I, much like a cat, examined the soggy bark of licorice, sniffed, approved, and chewed. Tasted like candy, felt like gnawing on a tree. I will definitely attempt to extract the flavor for other uses, perhaps ice cream, candy, or sauces.
Mr. Reed’s Vesper martini recipe was the basis for my cocktail:
2 oz gin
2 oz Lillet
Dash of cardamom bitters
1. Add gin and Lillet into a shaker filled with ice
2. Pour shaken concoction into frosted martini glass
3. Add a drop or two of cardamom bitters
It is a delicate and soothing drink, as a bitter-alcoholic beverage should be, yet with just enough spice and burn to mess things up a bit – you know, for charm.