Gourmet retailer The Meadow‘s blog “In the Cupboard” reviews the Burlesque Bitters:
Avery and Janet Glasser, prodigal makers of Bittermens Bitters, have relocated their facilities to the ever-more boozy borough of Brooklyn—or re-relocated, as Bittermens started out in Brooklyn before spending a few years transplanted in Boston. Burlesque Bitters is the first new concoction since the Glassers’ return to the fold.
The new concoction was released just ahead of Valentine’s Day with what I take to be an appeal to blushing lovers to undertake mixological experiments on one another. Avery says the “burlesque” preceded the bitters:
“This is one of those flavors that just came about based on a friend mentioning the word burlesque during our first big bottling session after we restarted Bittermens. As soon as we started talking about Burlesque, it evoked a color and texture—red velvet, like a curtain at a stage show. Once the color and texture were decided upon, we started thinking about flavors that would evoke that feeling, and eventually developed this formula.”
Avery describes the flavor as floral and tart, though to me there’s a bit more to it than that. The bitter element is very strong, with a long, pitchy-peppery flavor that comes through clearly in the aroma, and more subtly in the taste.
The simplicity of the production process belies the complexity of the product: “steep herbs, roots, peels and spices in high proof neutral grain spirits, filter and dilute.” Hibiscus flowers and açaí berries comprise the main ingredients of these bitters, though they are bolstered by over a dozen other flavor components. The Burlesque Bitters are a unique concoction and a new endeavor for Bittermens:
“This is the first time where we attempted to play with bitter and tart flavors together, so coming up with a working balance that made tart a supporting flavor, not the dominant component, was necessary. However, once we figured out how to layer the flavors, it was just a matter of tweaking some of the components.”
But what to do with this tarty new addition to the cocktail world? The Glassers recommend gin, genever, rum, vermouth, and Italian amaros.
But Lord God above, putting bitters in amaro evokes for me some turducken-like contraption made by stuffing dynamite into a firecracker. Avery insists “these all play extremely well with these bitters. Certain scotches and tequilas also work extremely well.” Tequila has not worked out so well for us, with several attempts at cocktails coming off discordant and odd. Avery insists that he finds that the smokier mescals or richer reposados make for a good tryst with the Burlesque. I’ll grant that Burlesqued tequila evokes a border town saloon with high-kicking ruffles and smoke and player pianos—and that conjures a thirst.
Generally speaking, Bittermens Burlesque Bitters is a distinctive–or maybe seductively weird is the word–and absolutely necessary addition to the bitters world; elements of razzle-dazzle ricocheting off a sophisticated reserve… what I might venture to call the hallmark of the Glassers’ expertly crafted products.
Thomas Waugh of Death & Company in New York offers this recipe inspired by Bittermens Burlesque Bitters:
1½ oz bourbon (Eagle Rare 10)
½ oz Laird’s 100 Proof Applejack
½ tsp grenadine
½ tsp sugar cane syrup
1 barspoon (or teaspoon) Bittermens Burlesque Bitters
Stir and serve on the rocks (or on one large rock if possible) without any garnish.
These bitters would also be an excellent complement for a Negroni, for those of us with more modest home bars. Equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari topped off with a dash or two of Burlesque Bitters and garnished with a slice of orange – voilà!
via In the Cupboard
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