A very interesting bitter , a bit pricier than their usual array of bitters but worth having.
Notes: Fee Brothers has been in business since April 1, 1864 in Rochester, New York. They celebrated their 150th anniversary a few years back and added major expansion to their Joseph Avenue Headquarters. Along with being one of the few continuous manufacturers of bitters ( one of the few torchbearers of the industry and indeed one of the very last in the United States before the bitters explosion a few years back ) , 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 bitters is a very limited expression/edition as it uses Old Tom gin barrels (not just aged gin barrels which is becoming more popular these days) so the barrels are in and of themselves quite rare and hard to find.
Appearance: Clear, light wheat straw gold in color. Somewhat viscous and oily no doubt from the natural oils and glycerin.
First Impression: Orange oil and gentian root, aromatic and alkali with dryish wisp of herbs anchoring the high aromatics.
Taste: Bitter orange with a dry as dust mid palate finish with a slightly sweet tang.
Drinks: Orange bitters along with Angostura (or Aromatic bitters) were used in pretty much the bulk of cocktails from the beginning until recently. Orange Bitters was ( and still is) considered one of the classic bitters used and its use codified in cocktail recipes fro almost 150 years ago now. A manhattan or a martini is just not right until bitters have been added, and this applies to almost all other cocktails. Many of the newer type of bitters might be more correctly called flavorings. A riff an a Pisco sour using the Gin Barrel Bitters rather than an Angustura changes the drink quite a bit, also any other drinks which have layered tops , including coffee drinks.
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. Much simpler graphics than previous edition – the inscription “150th Anniversary” above the Fee Brothers Logo is gone along with mention of proceeds going to the Speed Rack f or breast cancer research is gone.
Other: Other varieties of bitters include: Aztec Chocolate, Cherry, Celery, Cranberry, Grapefruit, Gin Barreled Aged Orange Bitters (2014 release) , Lemon, Lime , Mint, Molasses, Old Fashioned Aromatic (Angostura),(West Indian) Orange, Peach, Plum, Rhubarb, Black Walnut , Molasses 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) , Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters 8 (2014), Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters 9 (2015) , and Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters 11 (2017)
Please consult our Bitter Math Page for comparative price costs for cheap vs. higher end bitters for how much difference in cost there is per drink – especially if you are a bartender who needs to make a case to a manager to go for that particular bitter you want , or just someone who wants to make that expensive bitter more palatable to both your taste AND your wallet….
Final Thoughts: a real step up from their usual , unaged West Indian Orange Bitters with a good bit more complexity and depth to it.
A fairly simple and straightforward site. If you want to order bitters I would suggest either Amazon ( below) or Kegworks