Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters

  • Rating: 8
  • Value: 8
Ingredients: , ,
Age: Not Applicable
Price: $3.95 4 oz (118 ml)

Has been compared to St Joseph’s Orange Flavored Baby Aspirin by detractors.

Notes: Fee Brothers has been in business since April 1,1864 in Rochester, New York. 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 is one of the classic flavors of bitters widely used in a proper cocktail.

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.

First Impression: Low key, but somewhat aromatic smell of oranges and whiffs of alkali bitterness.

Appearance: Clear with a very slight orange tinge to it. Rather viscous compared to some (a drop doesn’t run easily across your palm).

Taste: Very bitter as in the white rind of an unripe orange, quinine, cassia bark (?), fair dose of gentian. While not actually bad, not overly complex which can have its positive and negative factors (you don’t have to deal with other unwanted flavors as part of the package). Has been compared to St Joseph’s Orange Flavored Baby Aspirin by detractors.

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 light orange color of the printing and black colored shrink wrap around the top and neck.

Other: Other varieties of bitters include: Aztec ChocolateCherryCelery,CranberryGrapefruitLemonMintOld Fashioned Aromatic (Angostura),(West Indian) OrangePeachPlumRhubarbBlack 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),  and Whiskey Barrel Aged 5  (2011)

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 was one of the few orange bitters commercially available in U.S.  the other being Regans’ Orange Bitter No 6 ( introduced around 2000 or so) until the explosion of orange bitters available today from various other alchemists of flavor.


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