Quite similar to the last release with a bit more gin and bitter orange – both good things!
Notes: Fee Brothers has been in business since April 1,1864 in Rochester, New York. They have just recently celebrated their 150th anniversary and working on a major expansion. Along with being one of the few remaining manufacturers of bitters, they also are one of the largest bar mixes and supply firms in the U.S. and produce flavorings and syrups for coffee shops, restaurants, etc. This Orange Bitters is one of the classic flavors of bitters widely used in a proper cocktail. However a gin barrel aged orange bitters is a bit of a twist on this classic bitter – in a good way.
Part of the almost demise of bitters in general is the sloppy research and omission of bitters in many modern cocktail books – many people say “They don’t use bitters in drinks anymore so why mention them to a recipe?” which of course just adds to the problem. If a book doesn’t mention bitters for at least martinis and manhattans don’t buy it ! It means the person who wrote it has no idea what they are doing and are perpetuating mediocre books and ignorance. Bitters blend the other ingredients together, add many layers and depths of flavor, and may even help your digestion.
Appearance: Much the same as the last batch, clear with an orange brown tea tinge to it. Rather viscous compared to some (a drop doesn’t run easily across your palm).
First Impression: More aromatic than their original West Indian Orange Bitters, with scents of oranges and whiffs of alkali bitterness.
Taste: Very bitter as in the white rind of an unripe orange, quinine, cassia bark, cardamom, cinnamon, orris root, saffron, and fair dose of gentian along with slightly stronger whispered suggestions of bitter orange, juniper and gin in this latest release.
Drinks: In somewhat of a departure from our normal format, we also discuss which drinks bitters are used in as so many people are not aware how integral they are to a cocktail. Orange bitters along with Angostura (or Aromatic bitters) were used in pretty much the bulk of cocktails from the beginning until recently. A manhattan or a martini is just not right until bitters have been added, and this applies to almost all other cocktails.
Bottle: Simple paper wrapped clear glass bottle, with a screw cap closure. It is distinguished from the other bottles by the orange color background of the printing and black colored shrink wrap around the top and neck. This year the new inscription “150th Anniversary” Above the Fee Brothers Logo and the addition of an inscription at the very bottom of the label ”A portion of the proceeds go to (pink graphic/logo of Speed Rack) for breast cancer research .(in pink lettering now) www.SpeedRack.com ”
Other: Other varieties of bitters include: Aztec Chocolate, Cherry, Celery,Cranberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mint, Old Fashioned Aromatic (Angostura),(West Indian) Orange, Peach, Plum, Rhubarb, Black Walnut , and the Whisky Barrel series : Whiskey Barrel Aged 1 (2007) , Whiskey Barrel Aged 2 (2008),Whiskey Barrel Aged 3 (2009), Whiskey Barrel Aged 4, (2010), Whiskey Barrel Aged 5 (2011) and Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters 8 (2014)
Final Thoughts: An interesting addition to any cocktailian’s bar supplies and necessary for a number of vintage cocktails calling for orange bitters – which is a lot of classic cocktails including martinis (a number of them are on their website). This product is one of a thankfully growing number of orange bitters to chose from depending on your particular tastes and requirements. Only downside is it is a bit pricey at first blush. Check our bitter math chart to see it really doesn’t cost that much more for a quality cocktail bitter on a per drink basis
A fairly simple and straightforward site. If you want to order bitters I would suggest either Amazon ( below) or Kegworks